Music Forges Link Between Oakwood University and University of Alabama This Weekend

Musical performances by the group Take 6 and the Aeolians this Saturday night at University of Alabama will provide an opportunity to tap into the rich history of Oakwood University, one of the historically black universities in Huntsville, Ala.

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I’ll have to admit before now, I knew very little about Oakwood University.

mlklogo  It took a news release about the line-up for this year’s Realizing the Dream Celebration, a collaborative effort between University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College to mark the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, to spark my interest.

In the release, there were two mentions of Oakwood University.  As a college student at Howard University 20 years ago, I was a big fan of the a capella group Take 6.   In fact, I have at least one of the Take 6 cassette tapes in my collection of beloved music.

But, until now, I had no idea that the group started at a small historically black college in Huntsville, Alabama.  Likewise, the musical group, the Aeolians also got their start at this Seventh-day Adventist school.

take6stuff-rl-288x300Saturday night both the Aeolians and Take 6 will take the stage of Moody Music Concert Hall on the University of Alabama campus here in Tuscaloosa, a place that only a half-century ago admitted its first black students.

About Oakwood University

In my quick read about Oakwood University, I discovered that it’s a historically Black Seventh-day Adventist institution that “emphasizes academic excellence; promotes harmonious development of mind, body, and spirit; and prepares leaders in service for God and humanity.”

This past fall, its enrollment topped 2,000 for the first time.

“The work that we’re doing is sacred work, ” said Dr. Leslie Pollard, in a 2011 video history of the school.   “Oakwood University’s best days are still ahead.”

Pollard is in his second school year as the 11th  president of his alma mater.

From Oakwood to UA?

I began to wonder how many times in the school’s 117-year history have the people there been linked here to the “Capstone of Higher Education in Alabama” and its record enrollment of more then 33,000 students?   The two schools are  in the same state of Alabama right?

Oakwood University Aeolians
The Oakwood University Aeolians won three gold medals in 2012 at the World Choir Games, which were hosted for the first time in North America in Cincinnati. They’re ranked #1 in the pop/jazz gospel category by INTERKULTUR.

But, Oakwood just became a university in 2008 after decades as a “college. ”  The two schools, University of Alabama and Oakwood University,  have very different missions even as they both seek to educate a generation of students.

I’m not sure if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ever spoke on the University of Alabama campus.   But, he most certainly did address students and faculty at Oakwood University in 1962.

In that respect, Oakwood has a link to Dr. King, whose birthday the nation celebrates this weekend,  that the University of Alabama may not have.

Come Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., we’ll capitalize on that link as current Oakwood students who make up the Aeolians and Oakdale alumni who are part of “Take 6”  travel to Tuscaloosa to share their talent and their spirit through song.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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