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Black Theatre Festival will be 'marvtastic
By JEM YOUNG
r --? yit-'
Forget March Madness.
The real firenzy for members of
the North Carolina Black Reperto
ry Company hits in July and ends
the first week of August
At stake is the company's bien
nial National Black Theatre Festi
The festival wiD draw an esti
mated 40,000 theater enthusiasts,
critics and scholars to the city for
five days of productions by the best
black theaters in the nation
Mote than 20 companies will
h?e a chance to showcase their tal
ents at more than 13 venues across
the city. This year* lineup includes
legendary actress Ruby Dee starring
in her play "My One Good Nerve:
A Visit with Ruby Dee.** Based on
Dee's book by the same name, the
play is a compilation of short sto
ries, humor and poetry and has gar
nered stellar reviews on both coasts
The festival, slated to kick off
with a star-studded gala Aug. 2, is a
little more than a month away, and
Larry Leon Hamlin, NCBRC's
artistic director and founder, is
slatting to feel a little pressure.
"You should see us at 2 a_m. or
3 a.m. gathered around a table,"
Hamlin said with a chuckle The
phones aren't ringing off the hook,
and we can get some real work
done You can really go over things
with a fine-tooth comix"
, This year marks the 10th
anniversary for the festival and the
20th anniversary of Hamlnrt reper
tory company. For the Rcidsville
native, both milestones are nothing
short of "marvtastic'* - Hamlin's
own creative combination of the
words "marvelous" and "fantastic "
The idea of holding a festival
was born in the late '80s when Ham
lin was researching an article on
black theater companies in the
South for a magazine Hamlin
thought there were only 50-60 black
companies in the nation. To his sur
prise, he found more than 200. And
most of them suffered from a
chronic lack of funding and a gross
ly inaccurate reputation for lacking
"I was touched by the screams
of frustration from the Made the- ~
ater companies," Hamlin said.
"Most didn't have office space,
money or even the bare necessities.''
Hamlin also found that bbdt
theater companies were closing at
an alarming rate, and most of the
companies teetered cm financial
Sme NBTT am A9
75 cwh Winston-Salem Greensboro High Point Vol. xxv no.44
si r7 Chronicle
? ? :t 5 1974 - Celebrating 25 Years - 1999
' gather for
Bishop stresses need
for church leadership
By DAMON FORD
Last week, thousands of members of the
African Methodist Episcopal Zion church
gathered in Winston-Salem for the 109th Ses
- sion of the Western North Carolina Annual
The six-day conference was filled with
meetings, committee reports and worship ser
vices. The Rev. James Sloan and his congre
gation at Goler Metropolitan AME Zion
served as the host church.
"I thought (the conference) was a tremen
Hniis siiaws hv wav of attendance and issues
dealt with," said the
Rev. Horace Walser,
presiding elder of the
. Winston-Salem Dis
started off with educa
tional workshops Tues
day morning and ended
Sunday with a morning
worship service at the
"The highlight of the conference is the
opportunity to fellowship with other believers
and members of the AME Zion Church,"
- said Anita Harvell, a conference delegate
from Union Bethel AME Zion in Charlotte.
"The unity of all our brothers and sisters in
* the Lord is definitely something to be proud
Nearly 135 churches make up the Western
v AME Zion Conference. The churches are
* broken down into six districts in Statesville,
> Salisbury, Lincolnton, Charlotte, North
> Charlotte and Winston-Salem, which has 21
Z churches in and around the city.
' i Across the world more than 1 million peo
ple are a part of the AME Zion church. The
beginnings of America's oldest black church
go back to 1796 when a group of slaves were
told they were no longer able to worship with
Historic black figures such as Harriet
Tubman and Sojourner Truth were staunch
See AME Zion on A11
? 4 ?
t Photo by Damon Ford
AMI Zion ministers march into tho Bon ton Convention Confer for Sunday'* doting worship service.
Thousands of members of the church gathered in Winston-Salem last week for the denomination's
1996-1899 End of Crad* Proficiency PeccenlBBee
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>^totKte8'43' ^ l77 5 82y
gap with whites
on test scores
By T.KEVIN WALKER ; '
THE CHRONICLE ^
It's been a long time coming, but
school system officials say change is
Year by year and percentage
point by percentage point, African
American students here and across
the state are closing in on the test
scores of their white counterparts.
The school system - after being
dogged by months of not-so-glow
ing publicity - decided to create
some positive advertisement for
themselves, holding an early morn
ing news conference last week to
tout the impressive strides black stu
dents have made over the years.
"Our African American students
have been gaining faster than our
white students in almost every grade
level," said Superintendent Don
Martin is referring to the per
centage of black students who have
been proficient on end-of-grade
math and reading tests. The end-of
, grade tests are administered yearly in
grades three to eight.
The figures that the school sys
tem released show that the percent
age of black students who are profi
cient on the tests is growing fhster
than the percentage of whites who
are proficient. /
The results are not a shot in the
dark, officials say. Using a "longitu
dinal comparison." which officials
say is the most unbiased way to pre
sent the data, the data measures the
growth of the same students over a
three-year period, from 19% to 1999.
"There is no masking of poor scores here." Martin said,
speaking to those who may find the figures too good to be
See Tests on A10
Group says loophole in decree renders it moot
BY DAMON FORD
THE CHRONICLE :
i- A group of black farmers is appealing a con
troversial settlement aimed at making up for years
cjf discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agri
culture. The Durham-based Land Loss Prevention
Project and the Lawyers Committee for Civil
Rights, based in Washington, D.C., issued a notice
of appeal earlier this month of the $350 million
consent decree approved by U.S. District Court
Judge Paul Friedman.
Stephon Bowens. executive director of LLPP.
See Block Farmers on Al I
Photo by T Kevin Walker
A Qrwp of youth* pnteiko thoir iwinj tUo*<tay at Roynohh Parit GoH
Court*. Thm youth* tooh pw t In o ffotf cfimc iponKxud by tchool bootxI tnotn
L. - - 1 ft . |nl.n arirl
Dw vKrOf /onnMjn.
The next Tiger?
School board member teaches youths life lessons
and golf during month-long clinic
BYT. KEVIN WALKER
When Victor Johnson joined the city-county school board in 19%. he
went in search of a way to make a positive impact on young people.
, Johnson said sitting on the board is only a small way to show a strong
commitment to the children he's charged with educating.
He wanted to walk the walk and talk the talk.
His search was brief. When it ended. Vic Johnson's Golf Clinic began.
The month:long summer clinic has been going strong for the last three
years, teaching dozens of 8- to 14-year-olds the ins and outs of a sport that
is foreign to many of them.
"It is the only sport black kids do not play." Johnson said
About 80 young people have signed up for the clinic this year. They hail
from public housing communities and various churches and recreation
Set OoN on A9
* 'OR SUBSCRIPTIONS CALL (336) 733-3624 ? MASTERCARD, VISA AND AMERICAN EXPRESS ACCEPTED ?