From Colored to Black sits at the intersection of public health education, oral history, and community arts activism, and functions as a multi-modal platform to communicate health data and historical research to the public. 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 women’s roles in the Civil Rights Movement, epigenetics and intergenerational stress and trauma, the significance of redlining and racist public policies on education and community health, the lasting effects of integration on Black education, the portrayal of Blackness in the media, and more.
Written by emerging African American playwright and UF graduate Ms. Brittney M. Caldwell, 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 around sensitive topics.
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. A 90-minute full-length film is currently being produced, along with seven educational modules and supplemental materials for school teachers.
The project is directed by Jeffrey Pufahl and is a collaboration between the Center for Arts and Medicine, University of Florida Performing Arts, the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, the Center for STEM Translational Communication, the Digital Worlds Institute, and members of the North Central Florida community. Funding and additional support from the UF Creative Campus Catalyst Fund, UF Performing Arts, Florida Humanities Council, Digital Worlds, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, the UF Center for Arts in Medicine, and the Bob Graham Center.
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
Scholars in African American Studies have been exploring the ways in which Black identity today is interwoven with intergenerational stress and prejudice. By examining the cultural tropes that shape our identities, the humanities create spaces for communities to talk about concerns in their lives and articulate resilience. But, these important conversations are not often found where they are needed the most: in young audiences.
From Colored to Black is an original multi-media play that sits at the intersection of oral history performance, participatory action research, community arts activism, and health education. The play is a platform to connect youth to Florida’s Black history and expose the origins and mechanisms of systemic racism in America. This content is delivered through an entertaining and non-confrontational lens designed to educate youth of all races and provoke critical dialogue. The play features a Black family who gather for a backyard BBQ to talk about the issues facing Blacks today. Weaving filmed oral histories with the dialogue at the BBQ, the play reveals the untold history of:
This history provides the platform to discuss:
Developed in 2018/19, this project is led by Jeffrey Pufahl, a publically engaged scholar and theater/filmmaker. The play was written in collaboration with emerging African American playwright Ms. Brittney M. Caldwell and had its pilot performances March 15-17/19 (263 attended).
We are currently developing a web-based, modular companion course which will include complimentary educational materials including full oral history transcripts, supplemental history, and reflective activities. This course will provide the space for students to deepen their experience of the humanities content and can be administered in the classroom.
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
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