As we have gone through the month of June for the reading and writing camp, there is so much that we want to accomplish with the students.

Of course, time just begins to run out so quickly until we feel overwhelmed about not making the impact we truly want to make with them. However, there are some things we just don’t compromise because it’s a true focus for that particular summer. This summer was theatre and exposing them from the prospective of social justice.

Our main mission of RISE is to give voice to the black community. Theater is a unique way to give voice to the trials and struggles of a people and their history. Some of the students attended “Julius Caesar” at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Staunton in late June. We opened their eyes to social justice themes that still resonate after all these years. Our summer trip is to take them to North Carolina to see a black theatre performance of “Women of Soul” musical written, directed, produced by Daryl Brooks, native son of Waynesboro.

Black theater has such a significant part of our history because it was a place for our people to truly express their struggles, pains, triumphs and victories. It told the story of the black family through great arts of acting, singing and dancing. It transcended earth’s pain that happened to black lives through slavery, Jim Crow, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights era and now today through the social injustices that still occur in this country. The stage was a place for redemption. It is our hope that Waynesboro will embrace Daryl returning to give back to the community who helped him start his humble beginnings.

For those of you who don’t know him and for those of you that need to be reacquainted, I’d like to share Daryl’s many accomplishments since he’s been in Chicago for the 20 plus years.

Daryl has won three Chicago African American Arts Alliance Awards for “Black Pearl: The Story of Josephine Baker,” “Men of Soul with a Tribute to Bill Withers,” and “The Curtis Mayfield Story.” For each one of these productions, he won Best Director and Best Production. He won three Black Theatre Alliance Awards: Best Director for Josephine Baker, Men of Soul and Memphis.

To add to his long list of accomplishments, Daryl even wrote Josephine Baker, Men of Soul, and Women of Soul. He has been nominated for two Best Director Jeff Awards (like Chicago’s Tony Awards) for Men of Soul and Memphis. Two of his shows have been nationally recognized at the National Black Theater Festival 2017 “Men of Soul” and currently “Women of Soul,” which RISE is going to be going to see Aug. 3.

He was awarded the Chicago Defenders 50 Men of Excellence in the city of Chicago for the work that he has done for inclusion of people of Color in the arts as well as other social and political work for people of color. He is seated on the board of the nationally acclaimed Sarah Siddons Society and he is the Producing Managing Director of The Black Ensemble Theater. He has spent his life dedicated to telling the black experience through theatrical musical performances.

Daryl remains humble and grounded with a true desire to teach, reach, inspire, engage and uplift everyone who attends his performances. We welcome you to “ride with RISE” on Aug. 3. Please contact me for details.

Before I end this column, as always, I must give call to action for the community and city leadership. On behalf of RISE, I am proposing that the new performing arts center be named “Daryl Brooks Performing Arts.”

Daryl has committed to returning to the city at least once every two years to give a master class to the Waynesboro High School Theatre department and to put on a stage performance for the community. It is important that we embrace the arts while uplifting our born natives of Waynesboro to give back to the community. We need to make avenues for that to happen.

Please join RISE as we travel to North Carolina on Aug. 3 and please join us at a future school board meeting to formally propose the name of the performing arts center.

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Chanda McGuffin is the cofounder and CFO of RISE, an organization that focuses on giving a voice to the black community in Waynesboro.

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