Laura Stedge, an Ithaca College student from Suffern majoring in Performance/Music Education, performed in a Mother’s Day concert with the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers on the Millennium Stage of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

The Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers are a non-profit music group whose sole mission is education, the preservation of the Negro Spiritual, and the use of its themes of sorrow, despair and hope to promote racial healing and social justice. It is named in honor of civil rights pioneer Dorothy Cotton, an Ithaca resident who worked in Dr. Martin’ Luther King, Jr.’s inner circle as education director in the 1960s. In 2007 the U.S. Congress officially designated African American spirituals a “national treasure.”

“The Negro Spiritual has an honored place in American history as the voice of a uniquely American experience — the perseverance and triumph of an oppressed people through its indomitable spirit and incomparable ability to sing through its anguish with steadfast faith to a God above, with a joy and sorrow unparalleled in our history,” says Ithaca College Associate Professor Baruch Whitehead, who founded the chorus seven years ago. “Our mission is to raise our voices once again in these words and harmonies and to reach for these redemptive powers in our own times.”

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