Brothers live the dream
March 19, 2020
In early 2019, Mayor Jean Stothert approved the idea to begin a new tradition: The MLK “Living the Dream”Competition. Omaha residents were trying to get this event to happen for 10 years, but previous mayors had never nurtured the idea or given any initiative to support it. This event allows teenagers in the Omaha area to showcase their talents in poetry, vocal music, dance, instrumental music, and more.
Out of all of the performers, Central had submitted two contestants that did particularly exceptional in two categories. Negil McPherson, an IB senior at CHS, won second place in the vocal music category for an original rap piece he wrote about gun violence in schools, specifically high schools. The song entailed the disturbing and damaging effects of losing a child to a school shooting. It was written in first-person, and went through a play-by-play of a hypothetical shooting, with Negil being the scared student. He explained the extreme detriments his teachers, friends, and family would experience after his hypothetical suffering and death.
Additionally, Negil and his brother, Noah, a rising IB sophomore at Central, made another performance for the competition. They composed a violin piece for the instrumental music category. Negil wrote the piece just weeks prior, explaining that he got the inspiration for the song from, “one of the songs in Naruto,” an anime television series on Netflix that we watches regularly. They performed this violin duo with a PowerPoint slideshow in the background, emphasizing the lynching of Will Brown in Omaha in 1919.
The slideshow explained the unjust rape conviction of Brown, along with the gory images of his burning corpse, him being dragged by a car through Harney Street, and the smiling faces of the men who committed the crime. Throughout the dramatic musical incline of their performance, the slideshow followed along, explaining the effects of this horrid event on Omaha’s history as whole, and how it stills affects the black population today in the Midwest.
Negil and Noah won first place in the instrumental music category, receiving a check for college money, along with a trophy presented by Mayor Jean Stothert. Senator Don Bacon and his team also witnessed the celebration of the McPherson brothers.
At the end of the award ceremony, the judges called three contestants to the stage, two of them being from Central. This was for an audience-chosen winner of the Grand Prize, which was a significantly larger trophy, and a significantly larger check. The audience was instructed to stand up and cheer for the contestant they wanted to win. The other two performers got about 25% of the audience’s cheers, while the McPherson Brothers received around 75% of the praise.
Noah said, “I really didn’t expect to win, because I felt like some of the other acts were better,” he continued, “when they called our name I was so surprised and happy. This experience made me a better performer, will help me pay for my college, and will help me work better under pressure.”