Busta’s People of the Week: Love is the key

People enjoy the outdoor performance of “Twelfth Night – Or What You Will, Mon” at Winston Square Park during the National Black Theatre Festival.

Busta’s People of the Week: Love is the key
August 09
09:51 2019

By Busta Brown

This past week and over the weekend, I was among the thousands of beautiful and happy people congregating in beautiful downtown Winston-Salem to celebrate The National Black Theater Festival. My smile was big and I felt so much pride whenever visitors asked if I lived or worked in the city. “I work for The Chronicle newspaper,” I replied. Some said, “That’s how I found out about most of the events this weekend,” and some said they saw my article on Ted Lange, mentioning, “I enjoyed the story you wrote about Isaac.” A few of us were bold enough to sing a little bit of the “Love Boat” theme song, and then we laughed at ourselves, along with some onlookers.

As I walked through the lobby of the Benton Convention Center, I saw Bernadette Stanis, who played Thelma on the hit TV Show “Good Times.” I waited patiently in the long line of autograph-seekers for a chance to speak with her. She was very sweet and approachable. What was most fun and exciting was when my family and I would see TV stars from the 70s and 80s and we’d say to each other, “I know their face, but can’t figure out what TV show they were on.” Then minutes later we’d recognize them or someone would yell out, “Oh, that’s Thelma from ‘Good Times,’ or That’s Lucius’ mama on ‘Empire,’” and so on. I also overheard some hilarious debates on who was who. It was definitely fun times at The National Black Theater Festival. 

The dominating part of everyone’s conversation was about the plays. The ones that were talked about most: “Natural Woman: An Aretha Story,” a tribute to the legendary Aretha Franklin;  “Women of Soul,” a tribute embracing different genres of women in Soul music; Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” and “Prideland: A Dance Adaptation of ‘The Lion King.’” Most of the millennials talked about the poetry slam, “Words and Verses,” and the women were going crazy over “Let’s Get It On-Here and Now,” a tribute concert celebrating legendary singers Marvin Gaye and Luther Vandross. Terry Steele, the actor who played Luther Vandross, wrote the smash number one hit, “Here and Now.” It’s still one of the most played wedding songs to this day. I met a few women who were fortunate to meet Terry and his cast member Dorian Holley, who played Marvin Gaye. (Their comments were a bit too steamy to print.)

As I walked around downtown Winston-Salem, I witnessed so many black people rocking Kente cloth with much pride. When I went into the Benton Convention Center, it was like Black Wall Street. Black-owned businesses of all kinds: hair products, music and film companies, clothing, accessories, art, food, technology, real estate, bakeries, and more, all represented at the International Vendor’s Market. The best part was witnessing black people buying from black people, putting our dollars back into our communities.

It was nice to see so many black people in one place, displaying so much pride and unconditional love for each other. It was a judgment-free zone in downtown Winston-Salem.

The bands at the Old School Block Party played songs by artists like Earth Wind and Fire, Sly and The Family Stone, and Stevie Wonder. Although some call them secular, the lyrics in their music kept us close to God. The audience at the Block Party danced together, singing the lyrics of love, peace and togetherness – the music that bonded black people together and inspired us to fight against injustice, violence and poverty in our communities. 

As I witnessed all of this love, I was praying to God: “The National Black Theater Festival will be back in Winston-Salem in two years, and people from Greensboro, High Point, Raleigh and other surrounding cities will return. But we can’t wait another two years for this kind of love, peace and togetherness. We need it now! And it cannot only exist in downtown Winston-Salem. We absolutely must find a way to bring it to the black communities as well. Daily! God help us continue this urgency to love each other, to keep this pride that I’m witnessing. Help us to continue supporting local black businesses in our communities. God, this kind of love is how we can get rid of, or at least reduce, the overwhelming and heartbreaking violence and solve the problems that prevent us from being underserved in our communities. Lord, show us the best way to keep us from being underserved.” As my family and I truly enjoyed ourselves, I still made time to pray. I also prayed for us Christians to stop judging each other and to replace it with prayer, lifting each other up.

When I was at the Block Party, I ordered food and drinks for my son and grandson and a very polite little girl that I met, but the food truck only took cash. Dr. Whittglover, a professor at Winston-Salem State University, noticed and graciously paid my bill. I saw men giving up their personal lawn chairs to women and children. Audience members made room for others to sit and watch the Block Party concert. As people crossed the busy streets downtown, drivers were more courteous than usual. The police were very relaxed and polite to everyone, and vice versa. It was that kind of vibe every day and night, during the National Black Theatre Festival.

So, my People of the Week are the staff, celebrities and everyone who attended the NBTF. In order to keep open those doors of love, peace and togetherness, we must work together. Love is the key!

About Author

WS Chronicle

WS Chronicle

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors