Play powers Black Male Symposium at WSSU

Play powers Black Male Symposium at WSSU
March 03
00:00 2016

By Tevin Stinson

The Chronicle 

More than 200 young men from high schools in Forsyth County participated in the annual Black Male Symposium held on the campus of Winston-Salem State University.

WSSU’s Black Male Symposium examines issues related to black male upward mobility and progress to uplift black males, prepare them to be leaders and see them through the graduation process. In past years, featured speakers have included Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Dr. Mark Lamont Hill, Spike Lee, and a host of others.

Instead of a keynote speaker, this year’s event featured the play “We Shall Overcome” under the direction of Garrett Davis of Forget Me Not Productions. The show centers around the adversity experienced by youth in the African-American community in the 1960s and how their struggles contributed to social changes leading to equality in education which provided guidance and hope for students today as they encounter situations of injustice and intolerance.

Davis, who has been directing and producing plays for more than 21 years, said his latest production is not just a play, but a movement. Before the start of the play, Davis encouraged the auditorium filled with mostly juniors and seniors to take their education seriously, respect authority figures, and stand up and fight for what they believe is right.

“It’s okay to fight for what is right, it’s okay to stand up and protest, but you have to know what to fight for,” said Davis. “The biggest issue with young brothers and sisters is that they don’t like to do things that make them uncomfortable. You have to get out of that comfort zone; only then will you be able to make a difference.”

Following the play, a number of students said they learned a lot about the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Freedom Riders, and the impact the youth had on the civil rights movement. Walkertown High School senior Marcus Williams said although a lot has changed over the years, he also sees a lot of the same things happening today.

“The play really opened my eyes to what life was like back then,” said Williams. “I’m glad I got the opportunity to come here today [on Thursday, Feb. 18]. I really learned a lot.”

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