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Boston Children's Chorus Invokes Country's History In Martin Luther King Day Tribute03:50
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Boston Children's Chorus rehearses in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory. (Delores Handy/WBUR)
Boston Children's Chorus rehearses in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory. (Delores Handy/WBUR)
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Among the city's Martin Luther King Day Jr. tributes, the Boston Children's Chorus will take the stage at Jordan Hall.

This will be the 14th annual Martin Luther King Day concert performed by the chorus. But this year, the focus has changed in light of concerns raised by the recent presidential election.

"I was heading in one direction, then it did shift a little bit," says Anthony Trecek-King, the president and artistic director of the chorus. "No matter where you are on the spectrum of where you voted. It's clear that we are a divided country and it's probably regressing, not improving. So how do we get over that how do we move forward?"

The theme of Monday night's concert is "How I Got Over." It now includes songs about the Syrian refugee crisis and the Trayvon Martin shooting.

The chorus was founded to break down barriers and foster understanding among young people in the city. As they prepare for the concert, the teenagers in the chorus are reflecting on what's happened since the death of Dr. King.

"It's definitely uncomfortable to see stuff that we might have assumed to be all set and finished coming back — mostly prejudice, racism, things that Martin Luther King really worked for — and that we hoped would definitely be over with," said Boston Latin School senior Richard Dang, of Dorchester.

These young people were born long after King was assassinated and have seen the nation elect its first black president. But just days before Barack Obama leaves office, Framingham High School senior Robin Kerr says Obama's time in office is a reminder of how far the country has yet to go.

"Early when he got elected, people would use that to kind of say that race isn't an issue," she said. "But obviously coming out of this election, we can see that there are many issues still revolving around race and we've haven't really gotten over the prejudice that has divided our country for so long."

That makes it even more important for the country to remember its history, said Trecek-King. On Monday night, the chorus is premiering a song that tells the story of Anthony Burns, the last slave captured in Massachusetts and returned to the South. (Listen to the end of the segment, by clicking the red play button above, to hear an excerpt from the song.)

This segment aired on January 16, 2017.

Delores Handy Twitter Reporter
Delores Handy was formerly a host and reporter at WBUR.

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