March 3, 2017  |  Civic Engagement New Orleans

Diarra McCormick

I believe that it’s important for the black community to tell their own stories, uplift each other, and support each other economically. My parents have always instilled in us the values of working together and supporting each other. As the ninth child of 13 creative siblings, I always wanted to do something that involved the whole family. With everyone living their own lives and having their own families, I didn’t initially know how I was going to do it. Last year, I scored my first principle role as a slave performing an ancestral dance on the remake of Roots The Miniseries. I was excited until I got on set. The filming of the series was very intense. Malachi Kirby, the actor who played Kunta Kinte, was visibly shaken and started crying during the lashing scene. After filming, I was inspired to write about the ancestors. Then, my sister gave me a book on the Willie Lynch Letter — said to be a letter of a slave owner teaching other slave owners how to mentally control their slaves. After participating in Roots and reading the Willie Lynch letter, I was convinced that all of our problems came from slavery. I started doing research and wrote a play called “Black People Problems”.

In the play, the cast examines the said theory of Willie Lynch and how the lasting effects of slavery are still present today. My message is to break the slave mentality that has been placed on us involuntarily by reclaiming our identities, creating unity amongst each other, supporting each other economically, and refraining from letting social problems such as welfare and Section 8 cripple families. Of my 12 siblings, 11 participated in my play, as did five other family members. My play ran for four days at the Community Book Center and each day my play sold out. Tickets were $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Altogether about 200 people saw my play, and I’ll be performing it again on March 18th.

After the four shows, I paid the Community Book Store a portion of my profit. I am now applying for an FII Social Club stipend to defray the costs of putting on theatrical productions. My hope is to do traveling plays.

In the play, I tackle issues such as the lasting effects of slavery and social concerns within the black community social issues. My message is that the black community cannot let social problems like welfare and section 8 cripple families, and the importance of unity. Of my 12 brother and sisters, 11 participated in my play, as did five other family members. My play ran for four days at the Community Book Store and each day my play sold out. Tickets were $10 in advance and $15 at the door. All together about 200 people saw my play, and I’ll be performing the play again on March 18th.

Because the Community Book Store offered their venue for free, I am making a donation from my profit. I am now applying for an FII social club stipend to underwrite the acting classes that I teach in the community. My hope is to do traveling plays.

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