I am Tami Tyree, Founder and Artistic Director of Echoes of Our Ancestors African-American History & Song. This initiative is the culmination of everything I love and care about: the arts, history, culture, communication, community.
Echoes of Our Ancestors began (in my kitchen!) in 2008 when I lectured my school-age sons on Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement. I realized that few parents would have the time or opportunity to teach their children our history and that public education would not fill the void. At that moment, I made a vow to develop a teaching initiative. I created a curriculum and fortunately, local schools, churches, and summer camps were interested in commissioning me to present aspects of the African-American story in my own unique way.
A graduate of Howard University with a degree in Theater and Communications, I am also formally trained as a singer and my factual presentation of events in history utilizes my strengths and creativity. It has never been my intention to foster anger or sadness in conveying the obvious struggles and injustices hurled toward black Americans (although the realities of our sojourn cannot be denied). Through music, art, literature, and other forms of creative expression, I weave a portrait of black innovation, resilience, and dedication to a land not originally ours. I explain that through our labor and work in all capacities of American life, we are full-fledged citizens entitled to the cornucopia of rights and privileges afforded to persons of this society.
My program is experiential in that current textbooks do not tell the full or accurate story; it is my goal to breathe life into history by visiting sites, reading and writing for personal expression,touching artifacts, and attending or performing theater, music, or art. Furthermore, I have enjoyed a lifetime of singing and feel strongly that the entire African-American sojourn can best be told through its [earliest] music: [Negro] spirituals, blues, gospel, and jazz. Most of my programs incorporate these “foundational” musical genres which evolved organically depicting enslavement, Reconstruction, The Great Migration (of blacks from the south to other parts of the U.S.) the Civil Rights era; preparing students to comprehend the challenges being addressed by the current Black Lives Matter movement.
Today’s Echoes of Our Ancestors programs expand beyond youth and classroom teaching. I grew up without the benefit of black history, and so I customize free or low-cost educational and artistic events for adults in the community. My outreach has expanded beyond my Harlem, NYC residence, and I have enjoyed national and international experiences. The following individuals have helped launch events:
Rev. Arnold Thomas
Dr. Deborah Noble
Dr. Joyce Duncan
Special Thanks to supporters, collaborating artists and the following funders:
Harlem Arts Alliance
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Borough President’s Office
Harlem One Stop
The Riverside Church
Mother A.M.E. Zion Church
North Carolina History Center- Tryon Palace Foundation