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Jane Griner

Jane Griner

A Summer student of the College of the Pacific, California

Jane Griner remembers the impact Jester made in the 1960s: For many of us the racial turmoil was distant and confusing. The segregation of the south was foreign, and the more subtle racism was sliding by unnoticed by many of us. There was no Black History Month, no black studies in school, little mention of the contributions and accomplishments of this part of 9our population. But all of us listened as Jester Hairston told stories. As he taught us about pronunciation he told us where in Africa these people had come from, the kind of work they were being forced to do when they sang, the origin of the rhythms, and the stories of hardship, family, work and loss. We learned the messages of the underground railroad embedded in the songs. We began to hear the pain, struggle and longing in these Spirituals.