Underground Railroad Michigan Connection Performance Feb. 23

Underground Railroad Michigan Connection Performance Feb. 23

Pontiac- The School District of the City of Pontiac and Omicron Alpha Alpha Foundation of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and, in conjunction with Black History Month, will present “The Underground Railroad Michigan Connection”, a stage performance, on Friday, February 23, 2018 at 6 p.m. at Pontiac High School Auditorium, 1051 Arlene Street in Pontiac.

The performance will benefit the fraternity’s Scholarship Fund. Over the past thirty-seven years, the Foundation has contributed more than $300,000.00 to eligible college and university bound students in Pontiac and North Oakland County in their aspirations for higher education.

Tickets are $10 adults, $5 students and can be purchased at James Johnson Builders and Contractors, 358 W. Huron, Pontiac, by calling 313-467-7930 or at the show

The event is free to children 12 years old and under, according to Dr. Willie W. Payne, writer, historian, and producer of the award winning performance.

Payne, a Historical Society of Michigan member, OAA fraternity member and former Pontiac mayor, refines the art of storytelling in this one hour and 30 minute performance.  Dressed in period costume and using music, song, dance, drumming and projected visuals of safe houses used on Michigan’s Underground Railroad route, Payne takes his audience on the actual route and share true accounts of how southern slaves escaped captivity with help from Pontiac, Detroit, Farmington, Orchard Lake and other abolitionists.

Guest performers include Pontiac High Performing Art students, St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church Choir, and Pontiac drummer Clifford Sykes. Payne contends the stage performance is his  way of preserving a rich history in an entertaining manner.

He began his research on the Underground Railroad in the early 80s while highlighting Black History in Oakland County and while working as a news reporter for the Oakland Press. His story centered on the small, rural community of Cassopolis which, at that particular time, contained the highest percentage of mixed ancestry in Michigan.

After learning that the community was Michigan’s first stop on the Underground Railroad and the intermingling between the slaves, Native Americans, Quakers and other settlers was the reason for the race mix, it heighten his interest because of his slave and Native American descent and compelled him to research other stops.

Payne commends Pontiac School District Superintendent Dr. Kelley Williams and staff for embracing the project and is excited by student participation.

“Anytime we can engage young people in understanding their history, I believe it creates a driving force in them, as it did me, to emulate those great leaders who came before us,” explained Payne.

Tickets are available

Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 10am to Noon; Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 1 pm and Saturday Noon to 4 pm.

313-467-7930

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