Research compiled by Aliyah C., Jimeace R., Diamond M., Rose D., Alexandria S., and Angeer K.
African American music and dance have been powerful and significant forces in the musical history of the United States. Drill and step has roots in West African social and spiritual customs, resistance during slavery in the United States, and cultural participation and innovations such as military service, community and school-based teams, and Black Greek Letter Organizations. Drill and step in Omaha dates back to the early twentieth century and continues to be part of community celebrations such as Native Omaha Days and the Juneteenth parade.
Our students relied on both scholarly research and interviews they conducted themselves to uncover the history of drill and step in Omaha. Our students had the opportunity to interview five members of the Omaha community: Vickie Young (President of the Omaha chapter of the NAACP), Wendy Jones (Drill and dance instructor with A Step Above the Rest), Phyllis Hicks (Founder of the Salem Stepping Saints), James “Miguel” Mason III (Former member of collegiate stepping team), and Derantay Stephens (Drill Instructor). These invaluable interviews enabled our students to put together a documentary about the history of Drill and Step as an important part of African American musical history and the history of Omaha.
Published on August 5, 2017
Students created this documentary as part of the OPS Making Invisible Histories Visible initiative.