By Harry Sutton ’20
It was a cold and mundane Saturday morning at The Gunnery, when 300 tired and sullen students gathered in the lower gym for another typical programming meeting during a Community Weekend. Everyone was having the same conversation: “I hate these mandatory programming days,” declares one student. “Well, it’s better than having classes,” responds another. The entire population of our quaint school plunked down into the small, cramped seats of the lower gym, waiting for the event to start, and hoping for it to end as quickly as possible.
Everyone was expecting an ordinary, rambling lecture about racial and social inequality; white privilege this and racism that. But our New England campus was in for a shock as this performance was anything but ordinary.
The energetic and passionate performers captivated the attentions of the students with a jaw dropping hip-hop introduction. Subsequently, an epic vibe filled the room and blindsided our unexpecting crowd. Students were immersed in an atmosphere of anticipation and eagerness for the oncoming presentation. Like a gas that fills the volume of its container, the energy of the performance mesmerized the crowd and filled their spirits with enthusiasm. When either of our guests searched for an affirmative “yurr,” the audience complied vivaciously.
Our relatable guests, Eric Axelman and Assitan Coulibaly, both young and very relatable, put on a legendary and informative performance. The dynamic rapper-dancer duo captured the crowd by teaching volunteers how to rap and how to perform West African dances. The audience was blown away as the volunteering dancers learned how to hit the woah, nae nae and default dance. Mathes Payne ‘20 described his West-African dancing experience as “life-changing.” Coulibaly taught the crowd that her name sounds like a song, while Axelman told us many times that he went to Brown University.
While most of the speech was enlightening and upbeat, our performers didn’t hesitate to completely reject claims made in audience questions during the Q & A portion. Whether it was a question about Affirmative Action or welfare for single-mothers, the performers were happy to say that what the audience asked was utterly wrong.
Overall, however, our visitors from Pushed Learning and Media were extremely valued and they enlightened us on social inequalities while adding a hip and fresh style that everyone responded to – Axelman was hailed with a standing ovation after performing his legendary rap “Too Much Space.” We genuinely appreciate the duo for visiting The Gunnery and teaching our youth these pivotal lessons.