Mr. President, Meet the Alliance

Alliance students traveled to snowy Washington, DC, in February to visit the White House, meet the president and learn firsthand about the indelible impact of music on the civil rights movement of the 1960s and '70s.

Organized by the L.A.-based Grammy Museum, students were excited to attend a star-studded White House concert along with President Barack Obama and his family. The group, 10 of about 120 students nationwide selected to participate, spent the evening of February 9 at "In Performance at the White House" concert that featured Smokey Robinson, Jennifer Hudson, Natalie Cole, Morgan Freeman, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and others.

"I was fortunate to have a seat in the third row behind Vice President Joe Biden," said Raul Moreno, a senior at College-Ready Academy High School #4. "I got to shake President Obama's hand and got a hug from Michelle Obama. ... I was part of a great experience that will forever be in my heart."

During the trip, students learned about civil rights from many different perspectives. Earlier in the day Harris Wofford (pictured), special assistant to President Kennedy on matters of civil rights policy, discussed his decision to join Martin Luther King for the historic voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.

The Alliance group, some of whom had never flown in an airplane and many of whom had never seen snow before, then visited the State Dining Room of the White House for a workshop titled "Music That Inspired the Movement" where Dr. Berenice Johnson Reagon of the Freedom Singers engaged them in identifying the link between music and the history that she helped shape--a lesson that had a profound impact.

"This served as a reminder not just of my culture but a reminder to take advantage of opportunities presented to me," said Daj'shone Bruce, a sophomore at College-Ready Academy High School #7. "Everyday I dread catching the bus, but I forget that someone fought for me to be able to be on that bus, someone who would cherish the chances I have as a student in the 21st century."