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Out & About in Cleveland

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Black History Month Presentation at The Rotunda

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At noon on Wednesday, February 22nd, we went to the Rotunda in Cleveland City Hall for a Black History Month presentation which, on this day, was in the form of a one-act play titled "Juba (Song of Negroes)" that concerned what life was like for a family of slaves living on a plantation in the Pre-Civil War South.

The play was both written and directed by Mr. Cornell Hubert Calhoun, III whose work has figured quite prominently on Cleveland's local theater circuit. Mr. Calhoun also happens to be the Arts and Coordinator for Mayor Frank Jackson and the City of Cleveland.

The program was introduced by our friend, Dr. Yvonne Pointer, who said that, "I promise you that you will be in for an amazing treat."

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And, indeed we were because the play was quite moving. Particularly powerful were scenes wherein actor Terrell Edward Cole talks about describes what it was like to witness the whipping of a fellow slave and actress Tonya Davis talks about the shame and humiliation of having to submit to the plantation owner. Nevertheless, the play was not depressing; if anything it was uplifting because the people depicted were bound together by the genuine bonds of family and love which in the end prevailed.

The play opened and closed with songs sung by Ms. Christina Johnson, the acclaimed actress and singer who was given a special award for her contributions to Cleveland as a whole as well as the African American community.

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Mr. Calhoun spoke a moment and said that the term "Juba" has enjoyed several different meanings over the years including a slave child, an African king, a sniper shooting at U.S. soldiers, and a dance originating among plantation slaves. He said that he believed that it was very important that we not forget our ancestors who came before us and so, here was "Juba (Song of Negroes)".

Thankfully, because it is important that stories like this be passed on, this program was attended by children from "Dike School of the Arts" on East 61st Street in Cleveland.

During the performance, we sat next to Ms. Erin Dorsey Robinson, the former Public Relations Manager for the City of Cleveland, who was very familiar with Mr. Calhoun's work and thought highly of him. We told her that Ms. Margaret W. Wong believes that it is important that our office be represented at as many cultural events as possible, even those that do not directly pertain to immigration. Ms. Dorsey Robinson readily agreed because, as she said, "it's diversity!"

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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