As a Freshman Richmond Arts and Culture Commissioner, the last year has been exciting and an uphill learning process. A part of this experience includes the Neighborhood Public Art mini-grant program. Richmond is a wonderful and rare example of a city that funds art projects locally since 1997.
A recent NPA recipient, Michelle Wells, created the play The War At Home utilizing local outreach that eerily mimics current events. History repeats itself, if change isn’t a priority. Wells’ story is necessary and engaging.
From the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts website: “Based on the true story of Jesse Thornton, as investigated by the Civil Rights & Restorative Justice Project in Boston, MA the story tells of a black veteran, chicken farm manager who was killed by a white police officer for refusing to call him ‘Mr.’ ‘The War at Home’ is a story of black soldiers who fought for freedoms they would never know, the untold sacrifices of black women who were not honored as Rosie the Riveter’s, and a country grasping for answers to the: what is democracy in America for the Negro? This is a story about how America lost World War II.”
Each actor had strong community ties highlighted in the production’s booklet. For example, Donte Clark’s character is Jack and he’s currently the Richmond Poet Laureate. Nyabingha Zianna McDowell portrays Sarah Church and represented Richmond for two consecutive years by winning first place at the regional Youth Speaks slams. Briditte Edington plays Anne DuBois, is a Richmond native, and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran. Very impressive indeed!
Last Saturday evening, my husband and I had the honor to attend this history, story, and manifesto. The venue was packed with a supportive and diverse audience. Hope exists when people gather and strive for a better society. Change can happen and will. We saw it with our own eyes.