NBTF takes first steps toward Hall of Fame and Museum

NBTF takes first steps toward Hall of Fame and Museum
August 06
00:00 2015

In above photo: Inside the National Black Theatre Festival Hall of Fame and Museum is an exhibit dedicated to the late Larry Leon Hamlin, who started the National Black Theatre Festival in 1989. (Photo by Tevin Stinson)

Vision of Larry Leon Hamlin closer to reality

By Tevin Stinson

The Chronicle

It was in the mid-1970s when Larry Leon Hamlin envisioned a hall of fame dedicated to the cultural contributions of black actors, playwrights, directors and others of significance.

On Tuesday, Aug. 4, Hamlin’s vision took one step closer to becoming a reality when a ribbon- cutting ceremony was held at 713 South Marshall St. for a preview of the National Black Theatre Hall of Fame and Museum.

An initial campaign in 2016 will provide seed money for detailed planning and design for the hall.

The National Black Theatre Festival is one of the most significant events in the history of black theater and is produced by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company.

The Hall of Fame and Museum features exhibits on the careers of Hamlin and Mabel P. Robinson, who had a long a distinguished career as a dancer, actor, choreographer, playwright and director.

A new group of honorees will be inducted into the hall of fame each year of the festival, which runs every two years.

Robinson attended the ceremony and was excited to see the museum finally come to life.

“This is really amazing,” said Robinson. “I know Larry would be very proud of what this festival has become.”

The museum also features exhibits documenting the origins of the National Black Theatre Festival. One exhibit even features an original playbill from the first festival in 1989.

“This museum will make sure presence of the festival is felt year-round,” Robinson said.

The Hall of Fame will be the anchor of a downtown arts center that will also serve the Arts Council and The University of North Carolina School of the Arts. During the festival, Segway tour operators in Winston-Salem will offer hour-long tours to historic African-American places in Winston-Salem that will end at the museum.

Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin, the widow of the late Larry Leon Hamlin, said that since the beginning of the festival, Larry wanted to include a hall of fame.

“Before the festival started, Larry talked about creating a museum for black theater,” said Sprinkle-Hamlin. “I know he’s looking down on us smiling, not only because of the museum but also because it is his son’s birthday.”

Hamlin passed away in 2007.

For more information on the National Black Theatre Hall of Fame and Museum, visit or

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