From Colored to Black explores the intersections between public health education, oral history performance, and community arts activism, and functions as a multi-modal platform to communicate health data, historical research, and the lived experience of the Black community to the public.
Created by emerging African American playwright and UF graduate Ms. Brittney M. Caldwell, and Jeffrey Pufahl, Research Assistant Professor in the Center for Arts in Medicine, this groundbreaking play incorporates dramatized Civil Rights era oral histories excavated from the UF archive into an analytical framework designed to educate audiences and provoke critical dialogue.
The play exposes the origins and mechanisms of systemic racism on the Black community and traces these mechanisms through history, revealing their impact on current health and social issues. Themes include:
The play was performed in March 2019 as a part of the Staging Wellness: Performing Arts and Public Health Festival at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to three sold-out audiences. The full-length film of the play, and the oral history vignettes are available for streaming below.
Vignette created wtih the oral histories of the following narrators who were part of the St. Augustine Civil Rights Movement 1963-64: Dr. Robert B. Hayling Audrey Neil Edwards JoAnn Anderson Ulmer Rev. Ralph Abernathy All oral histories are in the public domain in the Samuel Proctor Oral History Archive at the University of Florida. Directed by: Jeffrey Pufahl Archival Photos: University of Florida Special Collections, Florida Memory Archive
The story of Lincoln High School in Gainesville, Florida during segregation through integration. Created with the oral histories of the following narrators: Albert White, Thomas Coward, Brenda Washington, Janie Williams, Bernard Hicks, Earl Williams, Andrew Mickle Archival Photos: University of Florida Special Collections, Florida Memory Archive Directed by: Jeffrey Pufahl All oral histories are in the public domain and reside in the Samuel Proctor Oral History Archive at the University of Florida.
The Story of the resettlement of Rosewood and the Ocala Black Business District. Created with oral histories of the following narrators: Mary Reynolds, Leonard Reynolds, Marya Reynolds. Directed by Jeffrey Pufahl.
Archival Photos: University of Florida Special Collections, Florida Memory Archive All oral histories are in the public domain and reside in the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program archive at the University of Florida./
An Oral History Vignette the stories of Cora Tyson, Affie Wright, and Barbara Norris Civil Rights Movements of North Central Florida Created by the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine, Digital Worlds Institute, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program Directed by: Jeffrey Pufahl
The playwrights created an open-access online education tool to extend the reach of From Colored to Black, aiming to spark dialogue and social change. There are six lessons in this free online course. Each lesson highlights a historical vignette pulled from the play and critical dialogue linking the vignette to the present day. These excerpts are followed by several activities designed to promote reflection and critical dialogue. Facilitators can choose activities a la carte to bring into their classroom or community discussion groups. Explore the website and start the conversations in your classroom or community!
The six lessons highlight the following history and themes:
Lesson 1 | The Ancient City: The St. Augustine Civil Rights Movement
Lesson 2 | It's Not Going To Be Easy
Lesson 3 | The Tenacious Terriers
Lesson 6 | From Colored to Black
Audience: Community groups, college, high school (with discretion)
Materials: Access to the internet. Lessons are best viewed on a desktop or laptop computer.
Time: Each lesson incorporates a vignette (approx. 8-11 minutes) plus activities.
Analyze American History through the lens of Oral History
Interpret and connect American History to current social issues through different perspectives
Examine the connections between systemic racism and health
Critically reflect through arts-based research and learning methods
Promote and inspire civic engagement
This website was made possible through funding from the Pabst Steinmetz Foundation and the UF Creative Campus Catalyst fund.
Jeffrey Pufahl and Eric Segal, Director of Education and Curator of Academic Programs at the Harn Museum of Art, discuss the first phase of the project and the approach and pedagogies used in the creative process.
Brittney Cadwell and Jeffrey Pufahl talk about the process of making the play and the theory behind the project here.
Brittney M. Caldwell is from San Diego, Ca. and is a recent graduate of the University of Florida’s 2018 MFA Acting Class. Though she’s acted for years, writing is a new creative endeavor. Her growing interest in writing was nurtured in an internship with her mentor and co-writer, Jeffrey Pufahl, during which she began to write From Colored to Black.
It wasn’t until I was well into the writing process that I took a step back to think about all of the obstacles the people before me had to overcome, before I could even try to jump over the hurdles in my own life to land me with the opportunity to write this play. From Colored to Black has changed my perception about what it means to be a Black woman in America. I have an even greater sense of pride over my own accomplishments because of it. This play is not about Black history, it’s about American history. It’s is bigger than me or any one of these people who are represented in it. It’s about all of us. It’s our past and present. I want the audience of this play to consider what the future could look like and start to play a role in the creation of that future.
Written by: Brittney M. Caldwell & Jeffrey Pufahl
Directed by: Jeffrey Pufahl & Brittney M. Caldwell
Set/ Lighting/ Costumes/ Props Design: Xotchil Musser
Videography: Darius Brown & the LUMA team
Music: Richard Kendall
Slide Designs: Briyana Butler
Assistant Stage Manager: Amanda Gerulski
The project is a collaboration between the Center for Arts and Medicine, University of Florida Performing Arts, the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, the Harn Museum of Art, the Digital Worlds Institute, the Center for STEM Translational Communication, the Actors’ Warehouse, and members of the North Central Florida community. Funding and additional support from the Florida Humanities Council, UF Creative Campus Catalyst Fund, UF Performing Arts, the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, the UF Imagining America Working Group, the UF Center for Arts in Medicine, the College of the Arts, and the Bob Graham Center.
Brittney M. Caldwell, Jessica McLeod, Nakyla Owens, E. Stanley Richardson, Darious Robertson
Brittney M. Caldwell (Cora Tyson), Amanda Edwards (Doris, Joann) , Jacques Matellus (Dr. Hayling), Ersula K. Odom (Barbara Norris), E. Stanley Richardson (Richard, Albert), Ryan Hope Travis (Rev. Abernathy, Thomas), Elaina Walton (Minnie Mae Butler, Mae, Becca), Rhonda Wilson (Mary, Affie Wright)
Thank you to the students in Digital Worlds LUMA program for your work on the historic vignettes.
Sam Choy, Rachel Morton, Thomas Nguyen, Julia Gu, Allison Samowitz, Lily Titterington, Dennis Yelito, Yong Qi Zheng