Black History Live: living history performances hit the road in Colorado
Each February, Colorado Humanities’ Black History Live program, now in its 15th year, honors the struggles, triumphs and contributions of pivotal unsung heroes, visionaries and trailblazers who have shaped the intricate tapestry of Black heritage.
The 2024 statewide tour will travel to 10 communities, including Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction and Paonia, to feature living-history portrayals of either Rosa Parks or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by nationally acclaimed scholar/actor Becky Stone and scholar/actor Marvin Jefferson.
The portrayals will be performed in a Chautauqua format, which is a first-person dramatization of a historical figure. The speaker’s monologue typically runs 40 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A, first in character and then out of character as the scholar/performer.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR
Reverend, theologian, civil and human rights leader, and felt by many to be the greatest American of the 20th century, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an intensely brilliant man who rose to greatness during the most eventful years of the Civil Rights Movement. From the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56) to the Poor People’s campaign (1967-68), his optimism regarding human nature and inner knowledge of the worth and dignity of African American people comprise an everlasting inspiration and guiding light for our shared struggle for racial equity and justice.
Jefferson, who portrays King, studied acting at Rutgers University, and was the producer/artistic director of the Ensemble Theatre Company in New Jersey. Jefferson taught acting for summer programs at multiple colleges. He currently teaches acting at Bloomfield College.
Rosa Parks, even as a child, challenged Jim Crow. She understood herself to be a child of God, fueling her sense of civil rights and personal dignity. Parks became the secretary of the Montgomery Chapter of the NAACP, recording incidents of civil rights abuses and police brutality and writing protest letters to legislators and newspapers.
Parks challenged segregation at every turn, with only partial success, until the day she took action to defend her personal rights and suddenly galvanized the Black people of Montgomery to take a stand together. Change in America was on the way with the Montgomery Bus Boycott—the only protest of its size, length and impact in the history of the United States.
Stone, who embodies the role of Parks, holds a B.A. in drama from Vassar College and an M.A. from Villanova University in elementary educational counseling. Her acting credits include Lime Kiln Arts Theater; Warehouse Theatre; Haywood Arts Regional Theatre; Southern Appalachian Repertory Theater; Asheville Community Theatre; Highland Repertory Theatre; and Asheville on Broadway.
Stone has also presented at North Carolina and Colorado Humanities Chautauqua festivals and Black History Live tours as Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman and Josephine Baker.
FREE Chautauqua Performances
Featuring Becky Stone as Rosa Parks
February 3: Grand Junction
Mesa County Libraries Central Branch, 443 N. 6th St.
1-2:30 p.m. | 970-243-4442
February 6: Grand Junction
The Art Center, 1803 N. 7th St.
6-7:30 p.m. | 970-243-7337
February 4: Paonia
Blue Sage Center for the
Arts, 226 Grand Ave.
2-3:30 p.m. | 970-527-7243
February 16: Glenwood Springs (Featuring Jefferson as Martin Luther King, Jr.)
815 Cooper Ave. (2nd floor)
1:30-3 p.m. | 970-384-8772
The full schedule of events can be found at Black History Live.