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Keep Calm and Carry On, or The Show Must Go On!

The Sunday before last, for the first time in three years, our zoom presentation did not go as planned.

There were technical difficulties that meant that the screening could not be heard. However, something beautiful came from this mistake. Instead of spending the majority of the evening watching the play, the audience instead engaged in a compelling two hour discussion with panelists Henry Ealy, PhD, retired chair of the American Cultures Department and retired President of the Black Faculty and Staff Association at Los Angeles City College, and Brooke-Renee Kinser Bonnell M.A., academic advisor and adjunct instructor of Sociology at Ball State University along with Nancy Cheryll Davis and writer/director Tony Robinson about the Antilynching Act (that was just passed in March of 2021), the history of lynching in the United States as well as discussing how eerily normal lynching was in the South during the 1930s. Some audience members were shocked how fast the time flew as the panelists discussed some of the hidden history of the United States.

In case you missed it, here were some of the things talked about during the panel:

  • The history of how the iconic song "Strange Fruit" was written.

  • The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which is the first national memorial to victims of lynching in the US. It was a project conceived by Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery. Stevenson is the author of the book Just Mercy that was turned into a movie starring Micheal B. Jordan. Here are some photos taken of the memorial, including the memorials for Abraham Smith and Thomas Shipp, both main characters in the play.

  • Lynching is not just a historical crime, but has happened as recently as the 1998 lynching of James Byrd Jr.

Here are some quotes from members of the audience:

  • "I look forward to the next discussion. I thought it was brilliant!"

  • "I thought it was such a privilege to be there."

  • "The discussion was more than worth it."

  • "My minister used to say, 'when things go wrong, don't go with them.' That certainly applied to how you and the panelists handled the technical glitch yesterday. It was a wonderful discussion. I almost forgot we were supposed to see a play. I'm looking forward to 'Round II.'"

The screening of Black Annie and the Pastor can be watched here.

Round II of the panel discussion will take place on March 12 at 1pm PST. To request a link, email us at




Meet Veronica McClelland, who started at TST at age five helping stuff and stamp envelopes. She's come a long way since then and has served in various capacities at TST over the years, including Camp Intern and Administrative Assistant. Veronica graduated from UCLA in June 2022 with a BA in English and a minor in Writing. We're lucky to have her contribute her talents to the TST Blog.

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