Inspired Student Question

by Abraham Tetenbaum

Los Angeles, California

     I recall many inspiring scenes from Enrichment Works productions, but some of the most indelible and dramatic moments actually came during the post-play discussions. That’s when teachers would whisper to me, “The boy who just asked that question? He has been in my class for months, but I’ve never heard him say a word until just now!” My favorite such moment occurred following a performance of Spirit In My Soul, a play interweaving the lives of Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks. That performance had an inauspicious start. The teacher who had requested it no longer taught at the school, and had informed no one that we would be arriving. Making matters worse, the auditorium had been committed to some other purpose. Fortunately, the principal took charge, commandeered the library and in no time at all packed it with eager fourth- and fifth-graders. They hung on every word of Chris Jorie’s play. When Regina Randolph and Gigi Bolden took their final bows and invited questions, one boy raised his hand and inquired sincerely, “Was Harriet Tubman a good slave?” Could there be such a thing? The discussion that followed under the nurturing direction of our actors made me very proud. Today, as America continues to struggle with issues of justice and race in the wake of the shootings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, I can only hope that the national conversation remains as open and respectful and illuminating as the one I witnessed in that Burbank elementary school’s library.

Founder, Enrichment Works

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