On April 5, 2014 the Atlanta Music Project South Bend Wind Ensemble had the honor of performing for the opening day of The Kinsey Collection at the Atlanta History Center (where a scene from the Hunger Games was shot!). Our own South Bend Lead Wind Teaching Artist, Averil Taylor, led our young artists.

Bernard and Shirley Kinsey pose with the AMP South Bend Wind Ensemble, me, Averil Taylor (AMP Lead Wind Teaching Artist), Marc Boehm (AMP Trombone Teaching Artist), and Aisha Bowden (Director of AMPlify). Photo by Jennifer Boxley Photography.

As stated on the collection’s website,  The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey – Where Art and History Intersect,  is a national touring exhibit of authentic and rare art, artifacts, books, documents and manuscripts that tell the often untold story of African American achievement and contribution. Wells Fargo Bank is a major sponsor of The Kinsey Collection showing at the Atlanta History Center.

Averil and AMP South Bend Wind Ensemble had the honor of performing two shows for over 100 audience members. Included in the audience was Bernard and Shirley Kinsey themselves. After listening to the performance, Mr. Kinsey, who is an alum of FAMU’s Marching 100, proclaimed that one day all of our wind ensemble’s young artists would be in the Marching 100!

Between shows, our young artists and their families were able to tour the Kinsey Collection and the rest of the Atlanta History Center. They especially enjoyed running around the replica track at the 1996 Olympics Exhibit!

Personally, I was absolutely taken by the idea behind The Kinsey Collection. In fact I bought two copies of the collectors book, one for myself and one to send to my parents. I also enjoyed Mr. Kinsey’s presentation, which followed our young artists’ performance, where he went into more detail about several of the pieces in the collection.

Photo by Jennifer Boxley Photography.

One of Mr. Kinsey’s quotes from that presentation that stuck with me was “success and achievement, not pity and struggle.” The United States has a very dark past as it regards slavery, Jim Crow and segregation. But amazingly, throughout all of the pain and suffering of African-Americans during that time,  there were some incredible successes in the African-American community. For example, Henry Ossian Flipper, born a slave in Thomasville, Georgia in 1856, was the first African-American to graduate from West Point Military Academy. During his entire four years at West Point, not one word was spoken to him by his fellow white cadets. He still graduated and was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant. How’s that for motivation and inspiration?

At the end of our second performance, Mr. and Mrs. Kinsey surprised us by presenting a check for $500 to the Atlanta Music Project. It was a great moment. Thank you to the Kinseys for their encouragement and support, and thank you to the Atlanta History Center for inviting us to perform and being such great hosts.

The Kinsey Collection at the Atlanta History Center is on display through July 13, 2014. I highly recommend it!