NFL quarterback DeShaun Watson, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles and multi-Grammy winner Chance the Rapper (Bennett) were among the historical figures portrayed in the W. Vernon Middleton Fine Arts Center on the campus of Claflin University on July 27.
Their message was one of upliftment.
The 67 scholars participating in the sixth year of Claflin’s Freedom School vicariously portrayed Watson, Biles and Bennett under the direction and choreography of associate professors of speech and drama Annette Grevious and Cedric Rembert during the program’s hour-long theatrical production finale.
“The Museum of Difference Makers: Hall of Historical Figures” was the culminating performance of the six-week enrichment program aimed at curbing summer learning loss and closing achievement gaps, something that Claflin University President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale and project director Nathan Chaplin both agree will ensure a level playing field for all children.
When Dr. Marian Wright Edleman, president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, visited Tisdale and extended an invitation for Claflin to be one the host sites in the Southeast for the CDF’s Freedom Schools, he said he knew he had made the right decision when accepted.
“We know the program is making a difference,” Tisdale told the crowd of parents, guardians and community leaders. “We see a difference in the scholars’ attitude towards learning, their confidence levels, and the feedback we receive is tremendous.”
Tisdale said the community has a responsibility to tell children that they are strong, visionary leaders and that they’re going to be someone great. Encouraging children to thrive is one of the best things people can do, he noted.
Chaplin said this summer’s program was one of the smoothest he’s experienced. He credits that to the support of the parents, the…