By: Wesley Martin
From the opening video montage set to the National Negro Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” to the lovely Griot (pronounced Gree-oh) chorus, Our Voices are Many: The Sons of Africa was a stellar hit last Sunday afternoon.
The Jean and Paul Amos Performance Studio was at full capacity as spectators were “infotained” according to Creator and Artistic Director, Mamie Webb Hixon.
“I feel most people aren’t informed about African American history or African American Literature – especially black people,” Hixon said.
Hixon, who teaches literature and grammar classes at the University of West Florida, says the aforementioned was made apparent to her when she would only have five or six black students in a African American Literature course.
“Those classes, for whatever reason, aren’t [as] appealing to black people,” she said. A true educator, Hixon decided to merge her love of black literature with theater to inform and educate others of the richness of African American culture.
“I think I know far too many black people who won’t read,” Hixon sadly admitted. “But, they’ll go sit in an audience and will be entertained by the same information that’s in a book.”
Hixon says she hopes her productions spark a desire to read black authors.
Dr. Gael Frazer, Associate Vice President for Diversity, Community & Media Relations at Pensacola State College in association with WSRE, PBS for the Gulf Coast, says programs like these give us a fuller and collective view of our history.
“It’s an extraordinary production set to prose, poetry, song and dance,” Frazer said, “but, it really is a history lesson.”
Frazer, who is the producer of WSRE’s Aware, which is in its’ 22nd season, said a special segment will be devoted to “The Sons of Africa” sometime in the near future.
“I think Our Voices are Many has a wonderful following … this was an opportunity to showcase some of the talent of Pensacola’s African American men in the community as well as the other groups that were represented in the production,” Frazer said.