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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Cultural night honors unique playwright

TR+director+of+student+development+services+Carter+Bedford+talks+with+attendees+about+the+life+of+Lorraine+Hansberry%2C+the+first+African+American+author+of+a+Broadway+play.+Photo+by+Photos+by+Johnathan+Johnson%2FThe+Collegian
TR director of student development services Carter Bedford talks with attendees about the life of Lorraine Hansberry, the first African American author of a Broadway play. Photo by Photos by Johnathan Johnson/The Collegian
February 12, 2020 | Jill Bold | editor-in-chief
TR director of student development services Carter Bedford talks with attendees about the life of Lorraine Hansberry, the first African American author of a Broadway play. Photo by Photos by Johnathan Johnson/The Collegian

Students and faculty gathered for TCCD Annual Cultural Arts Night Feb. 6, which focused on Lorraine Hansberry’s play “To Be Young, Gifted & Black,” which debuted in 1968.

Attendees met at TR for dinner and a discussion with D. Wambui Richardson, Jubilee Theater artistic director, before walking to the Jubilee Theater to experience the play.

TR director of student development services Carter Bedford said TCC partnered with Jubilee Theater to bring this play experience to students and staff.

Hansberry’s play showcased her writing and the life experiences that inspired her work.

Jubilee Theater artistic director D. Wambui Richardson explained why they chose to run Hansberry’s show “To Be Young, Gifted & Black.”

“When people think of Lorraine Hansberry, the play they think of is ‘A Raisin In The Sun,’” Richardson said. “She was so much more…she was a prolific writer, she was an activist, she was a part of the Civil Rights movement…she was moving forward the advancement of people.”

TR student Diane Wanger listens to Mayor’s Community on Persons with Disablities member Rainy Dock Matthews as she shares her life experiences with her dinnermates as they discuss what it means to be young, gifted and black, inspired by Hansberry’s play title, which then became the title of her famous posthumous biography. Photo by Johnathan Johnson/The Collegian

The dinner and discussion preceded the evening’s performance. For anyone who was not educated on the life story of Lorraine Hansberry, a brief video outlined the many accomplishments of her short life of 34 years.

In a final act of giving to her community, Hansberry spoke to six teenaged winners of a national creative writing competition during the long and painful illness that plagued her at the end of her life.

“I wanted to be able to be here and speak with you on this occasion because you are young, gifted and black,” Hansberry said to these winners at their reception. “I can think of a no more dynamic combination that a person might be.”

Attendees were challenged to discuss with their tables what it meant to be young, gifted and black.

TR student Jeremy Cornelius discusses his perspective on what it means to be a black citizen in the community at his table. Photo by Photos by Johnathan Johnson/The Collegian

“There’s a tension to being young,” TR English professor Andrea Wright said. “Because, on the one hand, you feel like you have your whole life ahead of you, there are so many possibilities, but there’s also the stress of that, too.”

Audience members discussed what is meant by “gifted” and “black,” shouting out words like “prodigy,” “intelligent,” “culture,” “anointed,” “powerful” and “inspirational.”

Some students were seeing a live performance for the first time. After dinner, students, faculty and event coordinators walked together from TR Campus to the Jubilee Theater to conclude their evening with a viewing of “To Be Young, Gifted & Black.”

Bedford said Jubilee Theater will continue to partner with TCC to offer opportunities for students to attend shows this spring.

He also encouraged students to take away a message of uplifting her community by emulating the actions of Hansberry in her final days when she attended the celebration of those young contest winners.

“To encourage them to move forward, to encourage them to do more, those are the things we are charged to do,” Bedford said.

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