Shirley King, the daughter of Blues great B.B. King, came to perform at Brown Elementary on Chicago’s west side today as part of a lesson about the Great Migration.
That’s when millions of blacks moved from the rural south to the north, bringing cultural traditions, like Blues music, with them.
“In Chicago, we do a lot of what’s called traditional Blues,” Shirley King told a gymnasium full of middle schoolers.
King has lived in Chicago since 1967 and says she worries about kids losing access to arts programming in schools.
“My heart hurts knowing our kids are getting everything snatched out of the schools,” King said, alluding to the last several rounds of budget cuts at Chicago Public Schools.
Brown Elementary Principal Kenya Sadler built a partnership with an organization called Changing Worlds that brings more art into the small school, which serves mostly African-American children, many who live in public housing.
King’s appearance at the school was part of that partnership. As the students were filing in, King told WBEZ she wants kids to learn about their history and have fun at the same time.
“Let’s see if we can get an image of a young B.B. King coming up,” she said.
Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her @WBEZeducation.