Downtown Springfield Association
Event poster for Ujima's Black History Month Concert
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Ujima’s Black History Month Concert features MSU Gospel Choir and The Milly Project

February 17, 2021

Support Ujima Language and Literacy, the Missouri State University Gospel Choir and The Milly Project from the comfort of your own home this weekend by streaming the Ujimia Benefit Concert for Black History Month 2021.

Donations will be accepted for the event, which will be streamed on Facebook Live. The concert itself, which is sold out, is at Turning Point Church. The show features the MSU Gospel Choir and vignettes from The Milly Project.

Here’s more information about the organizations involved.

Ujima Language and Literacy

Ujimia Language and Literacy is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It uses literacy to educate, connect and empower children and families. Founded by Dr. Shurita Thomas-Tate, an associate professor of speech-language pathology at Missouri State University, Ujima builds literacy skills and social capital based on a model that leverages the rich legacy of our culturally diverse community.

What is Ujima? It’s the third principle of Kwanzaa, the African-American cultural holiday. It stands for “collective work and responsibilities.”

Missouri State University Gospel Choir

The MSU Gospel Choir was formed in 1989 as a small student organizations. It continues to progress as the premier organization of its kind. Membership in the Gospel Choir is open to all who love to sing gospel music.

The group frequently performs for campus and community events. They rehearse every Monday at 7 p.m. in the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts. Want more information? Contact director David Knox at

The Milly Project

The Milly Project is the true account of an enslaved woman in Springfield becoming a freedwoman. Through storytelling, spirituals and historical accounts this theatrical troupe tells the story of Milly Sawyers and provides an insightful narrative that resonates across time.

Sawyers won her freedom from slavery, and a cash sum, through litigation in August 1835, prior to the Supreme Court ruling on Dred Scott. It was her third attempt, after courts in St. Louis denied her requests in 1829 and 1833. Sawyers was savagely beaten by some of Springfield’s founders just north of Park Central Square on April 1, 1836. Not much is known about her life after the attack.

The Milly Project has performed in venues across Missouri and beyond, including the Gillioz Theatre in Downtown Springfield. Admission is not charged and performances typically include a panel discussion about Sawyers’ relentless fight for freedom and the ongoing effort to achieve racial equality and justice.

Learn more about The Milly Project on Facebook.

Want to help?

You can donate to Ujima’s Black History Month Concert by mailing a check to 918 East Calhoun St., Springfield, MO, 65802. Call Monica Horton at 417-812-5204, or email at, for other methods of payment and with any questions you might have.