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Film, TV star speaks at Motlow in honor of Black History Month

Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Motlow College will welcome Dr. Tonea Stewart to the Moore County campus for two performances in Eoff Hall on Thursday, Feb. 16. Her presentation is one of several events held during February in honor of Black History Month. An 11 a.m. performance is scheduled for Motlow students, faculty and staff.

The public is invited to attend at 7 p.m. to hear Stewart share her message entwined with poetry, personal reflections, and singing. There is no admission charge and a reception is planned after the performance.

The multi-talented Professor Tonea “Tommie” Stewart’s resume includes over 21 years of tenure at Alabama State University (ASU) in Montgomery, Ala. where she serves as director of the theater department and was named Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts in 2009.

She is the first African American female to receive a doctorate from Florida State University’s (FSU) School of Theater in 1989 as well as the first McKnight Doctoral Fellow in Theatre Arts. During her studies at FSU, Stewart received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1995, she was inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame.

Her connection to theater is highlighted with an acting career that spans over 40 years.

Television viewers and moviegoers will recognize Stewart from some of her more notable roles including Aunt Etta Kibbee in the television drama In The Heat of the Night and Gwen Hailey, on-screen wife of actor Samuel L. Jackson, in A Time to Kill. Other acting credits include roles in The Wronged Man, Mississippi Burning, The Rosa Parks Story, and I Know Why Caged Birds Sing.

Dr. Stewart’s message of remembering your past and embracing your future is the result of a promise she made to her grandfather as a young girl in Greenwood, Miss. Her ‘Papa Dallas’ shared the story of how he lost his sight many years before. He was a young black slave working in the Mississippi Delta and the overseer of the property caught him trying to learn the alphabet. After a severe beating, the owner decided to make an example of her grandfather and burned his eyes out. At her grandfather’s request, she vowed to tell his story to children of future generations so hatred could be left in the past.

Professor Stewart has earned a long list of awards and accolades for her work including international recognition and the Gold Medal Award for her project and narration of the Public Radio Internationals Series Remembering Slavery. She has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center and visits universities and colleges across America to educate others on black history.  Dr. Stewart’s visit is co-sponsored by the Motlow College Cultural Series, Access and Diversity, and Student Affairs Division.

Visit the College website for additional information about Motlow and to learn of other guests appearing at Motlow locations for Black History Month.