As the music quieted for a moment, students, faculty, and staff listened intently as Joseph Patterson spoke about Martin Luther King Jr. The imagines that played on the three large screens in Luzerne County Community College's cafeteria provided attendees with a glimpse into King's life as a Civil Rights leader.
"He was one of the greatest men in our history," Patterson said as the iconic and powerful words of King's "I Have a Dream" speech showed on the screens.
Patterson, along with Nathan Harman and Joy Massie, sang in the Totally Awesome Traveling Black History Show at LCCC on Feb. 19 as part of the College's Black History Month activities. The College's Office of Student Life & Athletics sponsored the event to help teach students and the College community about Black history.
"We're honored to offer events like the Totally Awesome Traveling Black History Show at Luzerne County Community College because it gives our students an additional opportunity to learn beyond the classroom," said LCCC President Thomas P. Leary. "At Luzerne, our faculty and staff are always looking for ways to enrich the lives of our students. This show teaches our campus community about the men and women who have played a vital role in societal changes throughout the years."
Patterson, who owns Key Arts Productions, puts on the show for colleges, universities, high schools, middle schools and elementary schools.
"We want to highlight Black History and honor all the work that has been done throughout the years," said Patterson, who is based out of Philadelphia and has brought his show to LCCC for 10 years. "We can all learn from each other. Our shows are meant to show how it's beautiful to be different and we should embrace that."
Throughout the show, participants were able to sing along and clap to popular songs like "Respect" by Aretha Franklin, songs of faith like "This Little Light of Mine," and music from blues artists and Black composers like John Legend.
"This group does a wonderful job portraying events throughout history," said Teddi Janosov, secretary of Student Life and who has coordinated the event at LCCC for the past 14 years. "Every event they have done for us is different and gives our students an in-depth look at the different genres of Black History."
In between the music, attendees learned more about historic figures such as King, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and Ruby Bridges. Bridges attended a desegrated elementary school in New Orleans in 1960 and had to be escorted by federal marshals to school when she was 6 years old.
"People would throw things at her as she entered her school," Patterson explained as the singers sang in the background. "She had said she thought it was part of Mardi Gras and didn't realize what people were actually doing to her. She was instrumental in making big steps in the Civil Rights movement."