BRONZEVILLE — Dozens of Doolittle Elementary students will soon be able to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater thanks to hundreds of donors.
School Principal Iysha Jones and social justice organization Organic Oneness created an online fundraiser so 25 students at the school, 535 E. 35th St., could see a performance from the dancers. Hundreds of people donated after a Block Club story about the effort. The story also caught the attention of “Blacklist” star Harry Lennix, who offered to fund the trip, Jones said.
Donors have also given more than $18,000 to the online fundraiser since Friday. With the trip funded by Lennix, that money will instead be used by the school to set up an instructional kitchen and buy supplies for Doolittle’s elective classes.
“This is amazing. I’ve gotten calls from Hollywood, New York and Washington, D.C.,” Jones said.
Lisa Johnson, a former Alvin Ailey dancer, also offered support to Jones.
Jones and Organic Oneness founder Syda Segovia Taylor said they expect more donations in the coming days as donors continue to reach out. Bright Star Church Rev. Chris Harris plans to stop by Monday to provide the school with $2,500, Jones said.
Jones and Segovia Taylor know firsthand the transformative power of the arts, and they want to share that gift with their “incredible students,” hence the trip.
“This year, we started a dance program at the school, and they’re being exposed to different genres. They fell in love with the art. Seeing Alvin Ailey gives them a chance to see people who look like them, and it gives them exposure to [a place] outside of 35th Street,” said Jones, who took over the school three years ago.
Organic Oneness began its partnership with the school in September 2020, moving into the school to help with programs. The organization was formed by members of the Greater Bronzeville Community Action Council, which became official in 2018. A lot of its programs are centered around racial and environmental justice, partnering with communities to mobilize change.
Segovia Taylor, who is a dancer, said that when Jones suggested the trip to see the famed historically Black dance troupe live she jumped at the chance to help.
“Music and dance activates the creative parts of our brain, and that’s not always activated through traditional classwork. We become solution-oriented. It opens up a whole new world of what’s possible,” Segovia Taylor said.
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