A picture is worth a thousand words, but words are all I have for you this time. In fact, the words of Thurgood Marshall mesmerized youth from Charles Houston and Cora Kelly, neighborhood recreation centers within the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, on their recent cultural excursion to the John F. Kennedy Center, starring the award-winning actor, Laurence Fishburne. The excursion was a part of the ACCT (Alexandria City Community Theatre) field trips designed to expose youth to the arts through witnessing some of the finest performances in our region.
Getting the firsthand experience of seeing Fishburne transformed into the first African-American Supreme Court Justice of the United States, Thurgood Marshall, was a performance that kept the youth engaged and I’d say a little star struck. Maybe it helped that many of the young people related to Fishburne as Morpheus of The Matrix, but their connection to the character, the person of Thurgood Marshall was more significant and personal. Most of them were from the Charles Houston Recreation Center, where Ms. Bertha Coleman is a supervisor. Coleman took the youth to the Kennedy Center and was taken aback at how involved they were. Did I mention that the Thurgood performance was a one-man show? One-person shows are difficult for any given audience demographic, but to have pre-teens and teenagers' attention without involving massive text messages and music is quite an accomplishment properly credited to Fishburne's performance. But their interest was sparked by the fact that they were personally connected.
The youth knew the history of Charles Houston. They knew that he was a scholar and the distinguished law professor and mentor of Thurgood Marshall at Howard University. He was the visionary that made the law school at Howard University the training ground for black lawyers.
There were few special effects and little mind-blowing technology to speak of. However, there was this commanding actor/person/embodiment that took the stage and made you feel as if you were a mischievous child peeking in on a stranger that you later realized was like one of your relatives.
Words seem to be the theme throughout this article, so here are a couple more that come from the heart. The words of thanks and sincere gratitude are in order. The outing was possible because of the financial sponsorship of the Northern Virginia Urban League for which Ms. Lavern Chatman is the chief executive officer. Ms. Chatman’s commitment to the community and collaborative partnerships is evident with her involvement and generosity. A "thanks" goes to my colleague, as well, because she made sure that the youth were transported safely to the Kennedy Center. Thank you, Bertha Coleman!