T.C. Choir Sings National Anthem For President and Civil Rights Activist John Lewis at Museum Opening

What do Congressman and Civil Rights Activist John Lewis, the President, a former president and T.C. Williams have in common?

The answer is that they were all part of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday. T.C. Williams High School Choir performed the National Anthem for the dedication ceremony of Washington DC’s newest Smithsonian museum.

smithsonian-african-american-museumThe T.C. choir was selected as one of three area high school choirs to perform together for President Obama and former President George W. Bush at the Dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday. A crowd of 200,000 turned out to watch the event.

Choir students from T.C. Williams High School, Suitland High School in Maryland and Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland, sang the National Anthem to open the ceremony, in addition to a song that Director Thorpe described as an “inspiring and showcasing the tremendous talents of these students” as a finale.

This was such an incredible experience. We feel honored to be selected to be a part of it. I am truly proud of the way our students perform and rise to every challenge,” said Theodore Thorpe III, Director of the T.C. Williams Choir.

Congressman-Lewis-12Last November, Congressman John Lewis, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma and was a key activist in the Civil Rights Movement, came to speak to students at T.C. Williams High School. This November, he returned the invitation when he invited T.C. Williams Choir to be part of the opening ceremony of the museum for which he has campaigned for 15 years.

The Georgia Congressman said the museum was about “never giving up”. Among the items in the museum’s exhibits on the country’s civil rights struggle are photos of Lewis speaking at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. “I’m 23 years old, I have all of my hair, and [am] a few pounds lighter!” he said. Also included is a mug shot of Lewis, arrested in Mississippi in May 1961 during the Freedom Ride.

12208298_638398602966605_2711511605268270409_nDr. Joyce Garrett directed the 200 person choir, and was by T.C.’s choirmaster, Patrick Lundy, Ken Boucher, and Kelly Bulter. T.C. Williams was the host for rehearsals. Students from T.C. Williams made up one third of the total choristers.

The reputation of the T.C. Choir has grown over the past five years. During this time, it has won 11 national awards and has become one of the strongest music programs in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

To have Director Thorpe a part of the leadership of a multi-school choir from different states is a true testament to his musical ability” said Becky Santana, President of the T.C. Williams Choir Boosters.

The Dedication Ceremony began at 9 a.m. on the grounds of the Washington Monument and was shown live on multiple television channels.

Watch the choir as they sing the National Anthem during the first five minutes and sing again at the end of the ceremony, at approximately minute 1:50.


Listen to a past performance by the T.C. Williams High School Choir.

Watch the video of Congressman John Lewis at T.C. Williams last fall.


ACPS, Alexandria City High School, Video