Students Overjoyed to Learn About Go-Go


On September 17, John Buchanan visited two of Kerry Sylvia’s D.C. history classes at School Without Walls (DCPS). In advance of the lesson, students participated in an introductory activity called “Meet the Beat” about go-go. This visit was one of many by noted go-go performers and scholars that took place at schools across Washington, D.C. Here are some reflections from the students about Mr. Buchanan’s visit and their preparation for it.

Everything connects back to the culture of D.C. There is a civil unrest that results in the marginalization of our D.C. neighborhoods and it is hurting us—whether we choose to notice it now or later. D.C. is going through so much now politically, socially, and economically that its residents need to be reminded that D.C. is still home. Continued presentations [like the one by Mr. Buchanan] about the history of and importance of go-go to D.C. will be a small step to combating a larger problem. —Kori Lurk

The go-go meet and greet activity was not only informative but also entertaining. Prior to the interactive activity I had no knowledge of go-go music or musicians. After participating in the creative activity, I not only gained a greater understanding of the important contributions to go-go music, such as Chuck Brown, but also learned about various elements, such as call-and-response that make it unique. —Xiu Chen

I really appreciate John Buchanan taking the time out of his day to share his experiences and the history of go-go with my class. I also appreciate the effort of Teaching for Change for sponsoring and organizing the visit. I think that every student in the D.C. area should learn about our musical past in the way my class was able to last week. —Asha Pappajohn

DONATEGo-go is an integral part of the cultural history of D.C., so naturally it is relevant to learn about it in D.C. history class. Since it is not covered in the textbook, our class completed alternative activities to learn about the rich history of go-go. The first day of the lesson we were assigned important figures and traditions in go-go and presented them to our classmates. This activity was helpful to prepare us for the second day of the lesson—the guest speaker—as it gave an overview of the go-go basics. The guest speaker, Mr. Buchanan, was very informative of the history of his band — “the Soul Searchers” and gave us an insightful overview of his life. Hearing him speak was an invaluable experience and was the best possible way to learn about go-go and its roots in D.C. —Isabel Walston

I have always been extremely proud to call D.C. my home, and have always heard go-go music but I never fully understood it. I never listened on my own and never felt a connection to it. After the visit from John Buchanan I feel as though I can say I do in fact have a connection to the music. And in doing so feel more like a Washingtonian. —Max Vichr 

When Mr. Buchanan came to talk about go-go music I knew little about the musical genre. Growing up in D.C., I have always known about go-go and have listened to some popular songs, but have never really delved into what go-go is and how it is unique. Mr. Buchanan gave a nice overview of what go-go music is and told his own story of his experience playing with the first go-go band. It was truly remarkable to have a go-go icon talking to us in our classroom. Hearing his stories and clapping out popular go-go beats was fun. —Natasha Zakin

I think that the presentation given by John “JB” Buchanan the other day was informational and interesting. As someone who was neither born nor raised here in D.C., I was pretty ignorant of what go-go is. I had only ideas of what it could be. My sister, on multiple occasions, has expressed her dislike for it before, which affected my perception of it. However, Mr. Buchanan’s presentation showed me what go-go was about, as well as its importance to Washingtonians. —Nathan Smith

The go-go meet and greet activity was a great way to begin the first lesson on the history of go-go. This activity encouraged students to be inquisitive and creative in the way in which they uncovered what part of go-go history a student represented. The activity taught everyone a lot of the information in a way that was memorable and interesting. When learning about each character in the role play our class was also able to connect the dots between some of the go-go history that was being presented. —Gabrielle Towson

I enjoyed the go-go presentation by John Buchanan, and the additional insight this presentation gave me into the history of go-go music, and the history and culture of my city. This is especially important to me because I consider myself a very well-assimilated citizen of D.C. culture, but yet have never known much about go-go music, its origins, or what makes it unique. I think this experience filled a hole in my knowledge of D.C., and as a proud D.C. native, this new knowledge is especially important to me. —Ezra Wright

I found the pre-activity for the go-go discussion, where we represented different people and elements of go-go, to be very helpful in giving me a sense of what to expect the next day when the speaker actually came. I was already somewhat familiar with the genre, but didn’t know anything about the history of it or the technical aspects of what differentiated go-go from other types of music. As great as the meet and greet was, the discussion and presentation with Mr. Buchanan was even better. He seemed very down-to-earth, even when he was letting us hold his gold record. —Brian Contreras