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Tennessee Reconnect and Promise. Graduating high school seniors can attend tuition-free. Free tuition for adults.Tennessee Reconnect and Promise. Graduating high school seniors can attend tuition-free. Free tuition for adults.
Online degrees available. Choose from seven completely online programs.Online degrees available. Choose from seven completely online programs.

Roane State Equity Evenings

As part of its ongoing conversations about racial and social justice, equity, and inclusion, on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, Roane State Community College is sponsoring a free streaming performance of the play Alabama Story. The showing will be followed later in the week by an Equity Evening discussion among students, college employees and special guests.

Alabama Story is a play about the early flowering of the Civil Rights movement and was produced and filmed under COVID-19 restrictions by the Oak Ridge Playhouse. Although live performances in the theatre were not possible, Reggie Law, Executive Artistic Director of the Playhouse, said the goal was to make the experience as close as possible to watching from a Playhouse seat.

“Virtual productions are now the reality in theatre, at least for the foreseeable future,” Law is quoted as saying. “It’s also a beautiful, thoughtful and touching work that examines and sheds light on matters of censorship and race relations,” Law said of Alabama Story.

The play is the true story of a state librarian persecuted by politicians for protecting a children’s picture book published in 1958 in which a black rabbit marries a white rabbit.

Karen Brunner, Roane State’s Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Student Success Initiatives, had one of the starring roles. She portrayed Emily Wheelock Reed, director of the Alabama Public Library System who defended the children’s book titled “The Rabbits’ Wedding.”

“During this time when systemic injustice and racism have become an important part of a national conversation, the opportunity to experience the Alabama Story provides not only historical perspective but also a compelling view of the human side of the story,” Brunner explained.

Over the summer, Roane State began holding Equity Evening discussions in response to the ongoing national dialogue surrounding systemic racism. College leadership described Equity Evenings as a way to have open, respectful conversations about equity and justice in a safe, virtual space. The goal of the sessions is to identify ways Roane State can support every member of its community to work, learn, grow and succeed.

The virtual performance will be available beginning at 12:15 a.m. on November 17 and can be streamed anytime that day. Following the one-day showing, there will be an Equity Evening discussion via Zoom beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 19, 2020. Students, faculty, staff and other members of the campus community are invited to join the conversation to share their thoughts about the play. Links for both opportunities are listed below:

Participants in the Equity Evening are also encouraged to keep these discussion questions in mind as they watch Alabama Story:

  1. Some of us watching the play may be thinking “things have improved so much since Joshua and Lily were children;” others may be thinking “not so much.” What kind of progress toward racial justice do you think we’ve really made in America, in the South, in our communities?
  2. One of the major themes of the play, of course, is censorship. Emily says that she believes the free flow of information is the best means to work out problems facing the South, the nation, and the world. Do you believe the college is a “safe place” for the expression of all ideas? What do we need to do to make sure our discourse is civil, but open to all ideas?
  3. Students frequently question the value of the Humanities for application to “real life.” How do you think experiencing a play like Alabama Story helps to bring real life issues into focus in a very personal way?

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