City Music Honors Rev. Dr. Gloria White-Hammond

The Unsung Heroes Breakfast also includes a panel discussion with 1961 Freedom Riders Jean Thompson and Judith Ann Wright.

January 12, 2010

Berklee City Music honors the Rev. Dr. Gloria White-Hammond at its seventh annual Unsung Heroes Breakfast, recognizing those who have made significant contributions to the local community as educators, artists, and mentors. White-Hammond will be the keynote speaker at the event, and will be presented with a plaque for her tireless work as an activist and humanitarian.

Berklee City Music's Unsung Heroes Breakfast takes place Saturday, January 23, 9:30 a.m. to noon, at Berklee's David Friend Recital Hall, located at 921 Boylston Street, Boston. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 617 747-6059. 

Special guests Jean Thompson and Judith Ann Wright, members of the 1961 Freedom Riders movement, will participate in a panel discussion moderated by Krystal Banfield, director of Berklee City Music. The panelists will share their experiences during the civil rights struggle, highlighting the theme of this year's event, Courage: Arts, Academics, and Empowerment.  

The event also includes performances by Berklee City Music ensembles and student Jennifer Manzanillo, who founded the humanitarian group Beyond Borders to inspire love, peace, and unity through the power of music. The group will soon travel to the Dominican Republic to create a music education program.

Reverend Doctor Gloria E. White-Hammond, copastor of Bethel AME Church in Boston and a pediatrician at South End Community Health Center, has a long history of community service. In 1994, she founded the creative writing/mentoring ministry Do the Write Thing for high-risk young African American women. In 2002, she cofounded My Sister's Keeper, a group that partners with women in Sudan in their reconciliation and reconstruction efforts. In 2003, White-Hammond became coconvener of the Red Tent Group, which brings together Christian and Jewish women for Torah/Bible study.

White-Hammond's humanitarian work has achieved global impact. She is cochair of the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur and has made seven trips to war-torn Sudan, where she helped obtain freedom for 10,000 women and children enslaved during the civil war. White-Hammond is on the board of trustees of Brigham and Women's Hospital, the board of overseers for Tufts University College for Community and Public Service, and the board of Christian Solidarity International. She earned a bachelor's degree from Boston University, a doctorate from Tufts Medical School, and a master's from Harvard Divinity School.

As a 19-year old Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) worker, Jean Thompson trained Freedom Riders headed into Jackson, Mississippi. She also did civil rights work in Canton, Mississippi, after the murder of Medgar Evers, and in other areas of the South. She continued to work with CORE in New York in the mid-1960s, and later was involved in civil rights, anti-war, and feminist efforts in San Francisco. Thompson has lived in Amherst, Massachusetts, since the 1970s.

Judith Ann Wright joined CORE in New York and traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, where she and the other Freedom Riders were arrested and sent to jail for being an interracial group in the bus station's "White-Only" waiting room. In 1964, she went to Meridian, Mississippi, after the murders of Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman, and helped with voter registration and anti-segregation demonstrations. Wright currently lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Berklee City Music is the college's strategic educational initiative that uses contemporary music to reach underserved fourth- to 12th-graders. Programming includes instruction by expert faculty, individualized mentoring, after-school classes, Saturday schooling, summer study, and full-tuition scholarships to attend Berklee at no cost to the students or their families. City Music has provided educational and mentoring opportunities to more than 1,000 local teens from urban areas since 1991. Four years ago, Berklee's City Music Network—launched in 2001—expanded to include partnerships with community organizations nationwide that actively share the goal of changing teenage lives with contemporary music education.