“As a black student attending a PWI (Predominantly White Institution) I believe it is important for me to stay connected to my identity as a black girl and step team has been a great way to make these connections. I am learning more about my own culture while also sharing it with the rest of the Stone Ridge community, whether it’s through a performance at Feast Wishes or a presentation during morning assembly.”- Nadia Anderson ‘22, SRST member of two years
The Stone Ridge Step Team has been an institution in the Stone Ridge community since 2003. The team was founded when a group of minority students felt that their majority white school needed more activities that were geared towards their interests. The SRST was founded out of a need that every single Stone Ridge student should have met: a safe space to express themselves freely. Under the leadership of Coach Stacey Claytor, the team has grown into a bonded troupe that promotes confidence, community, and school spirit. But why is any of this significant?
When a new member joins the team, one of the very first things we discuss together is the history of Step. Stepping is so much more than just body percussion or dance. It's rooted in black expression and cultural connection. Stepping does not have a single date or place of origin. Evidence of lower class workers using song and body percussion to communicate with one another can be traced back all over the African continent. But stepping as seen in SRST performances really began in the early 1900’s, when many HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) were founded in response to the Ivy League denying admission to black students. Students at HBCUs, all of whom were men at the time, began forming their own fraternities. In a desire to assimilate less to white America and instead connect with their African heritages, they turned to Step. From there, stepping became an act of cultural exhibition and self determination. The National Pan-Hellenic Council a.k.a. The Divine Nine a.k.a. an organization of nine black fraternities and sororities, use stepping in their own unique ways to uplift audiences and show pride and unity in their groups. Many of your favorite celebrities proudly rep their identity as part of the Divine Nine, including but not limited to: Chadwick Boseman (Alpha Phi Alpha), Shaquille O’Neal (Omega Psi Phi), Colin Kaepernick (Kappa Alpha Psi), Angela Bassett (Delta Sigma Theta), Aretha Franklin (Delta Sigma Theta), Maya Angelou (Alpha Kappa Alpha), and Kamala Harris (Alpha Kappa Alpha).
"Now, almost twenty years after those first SRST members came together, we can look back and see why the power, art, and athletic requirements of stepping resonated with them so much. Stepping is a product completely of black history, but it is because of the fact that it offers such a giving and joyous experience for performers and audiences alike, you can see people of all races and backgrounds participating in it. Joining the SRST has changed my life, putting me on a personal journey of bettering my self-confidence, social anxieties, and performance skills. But it has also taught me and continues to teach me about aspects of the black American experience I would have otherwise never known." - Jackie Klein ’22, current SRST Captain
Article by Jackie Klein ’22 and Nadia Anderson ‘22
Nadia '22, Step Team during Feast Wishes 2019
Jackie '22, Step Team during Feast Wishes 2019
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion