Theatre group raising money

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 1, 2007

EUTAW &8212; The New Black Belt Theater Company had two goals in mind when preparing for their next production of &8220;O, Mary, Don&8217;t You Weep&8221;: to raise funds for a local church rebuilding project and awareness of racial issues in the Black Belt.

Browne said she and her husband, Malik, were approached by a group of Christian women who wanted to raise funds to help rebuild Morning Star Baptist Church in Boligee, which was burned by three college students in February 2006.

But their show, which is based on a real life event, is more than just a way to raise funds for the church, Browne said.

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&8220;We still have many stories to be told,&8221; she said. &8220;Telling our own stories is a strong healing tool as well as a way to preserve our history.&8221;

The focus of the show is the events surrounding the killing of Margaret Ann Knott while she marched in a demonstration in Butler on Sept. 11, 1971. While she demonstrated a motorist struck and killed her.

According to Browne, the Choctaw County civil rights movement, which was at the latter end of the national movement, centered around getting more jobs and better economic status rather than voting and social rights.

Browne, who was raised in Green County but later moved to New York, said it was important for her to do this because there are fewer and fewer participants of the civil rights movement.

Furthermore, Browne sees the production as part of a larger effort to begin work on a strategic plan for Green County to allow them to move forward with economic growth and development.

The theater company is an umbrella organization for StoryTree Company, which is co-directed by Browne and her husband, and The Drama Project, under the direction of Dr. Billie Jean Young, a poet, author and teacher.