‘The Ground On Which We Stand: An Exploration of Black Excellence’


— The Baltimore Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. in partnership with Baltimore Center Stage presented “The Ground On Which We Stand: An Exploration of Black Excellence,” on Sunday, February 12, 2017. The one-time performance to a sold-out crowd featured music, dance, art, film and projection technology highlighting breakthrough moments in history.

The program was created and performed in collaboration with children of Jack and Jill, an organization dedicated to nurturing future African American leaders. For this performance, 100 Baltimore Chapter youth (ages 3–18) were challenged to match the excellence of the best of the artistic canon. Luminaries whose work was celebrated included: poet Langston Hughes; author and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois; photographer James Van Der Zee; author Zora Neale Hurston; singer Billie Holiday; novelist and poet James Baldwin; choreographer Debbie Allen; ballet dancer Misty Copeland; inventor Elijah McCoy; astronaut Michael Anderson; politician Shirley Chisholm; boxer Joe Louis; and many others.

Center Stage Associate Artistic Director and Jack and Jill mother Hana S. Sharif conceived and produced the show with the help of her dedicated professional staff. She noted “The Ground On Which We Stand” celebrates iconic African-American voices who have redefined history.

“It’s so important for the next generation to see themselves as part of this continuum of excellence.We’ve encouraged the young people participating in the program to challenge themselves creatively—the performance will truly showcase their many skills and talents,” Sharif said.

The performance also included a pre-show gallery display in the theater lobby highlighting paintings,sculptures and photographs by the children, curated by two Jack and Jill teens.Tickets sales benefitted the Jack & Jill Foundation of America,Inc. and Franklin Square Elementary Middle School in Baltimore City.

Jack and Jill of America, Inc., is a membership organization of mothers with children ages 2–19, dedicated to nurturing future African American leaders by strengthening children through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving and civic duty. Jack and Jill boasts more than 230 chapters nationwide, representing more than 40,000 family members. Each chapter plans annual programming activities guided under a national theme. Through service projects, Jack and Jill of America creates a medium of contact for children to stimulate their growth and development.

The Baltimore Chapter recently celebrated 70 years of service to Baltimore City and the surrounding areas. The 61 members and 100+ children regularly engage in activities geared towards programmatic thrusts including: cultural, education, health, civic and social/recreation. Multifaceted initiatives such as STE[A]M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) and Healthy Living (centered on lifestyle improvements and health development) all help our kids and others to know that they have The Power to Make a Difference!