Project Ujima Presents “The Montford Point Marines of San Diego: Legacies of Pride”

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Courtesy of the Project Ujima
Published 06.26.2014

SDUSD’s Project Ujima’s “The Montford Point Marines of San Diego: Legacies of Pride” opened at the Community Actors Theater on Friday, June 20, 2014. This drama was written by Project Ujima parents under the guidance of Director Ms. Jennie Hamilton and was made possible through a generous Community Stories Grant from California Humanities.

“The Montford Point Marines of San Diego: Legacies of Pride” is based on background material gathered from research and oral history interviews conducted with ten members of the Montford Point Marine Association, Chapter 12 San Diego, including three of the original Montford Point Marines who are active members of that Association: Carrell Reavis, Joe Jackson, and J. T. Inge.

Actors (several of whom are making their acting debut) featured in the “The Montford Point Marines of San Diego: Legacies of Pride” include DeForrest R. Hancock, Stephanie Rodriguez, Katherine Anderson, Nancy Morales, Susanna Matingou, Vikanda Voratanitkitkul, Michelle Harris, Corwin L. Harris, Sr., Corwin Harris, Jr. Jonathan Spies, Jataun Gilbert and. James McLeod. Cast members Nancy Morales, Susanna Matingou and Corwin Harris, Jr. acknowledge that not only do they enjoy learning a great deal of historical information about the Montford Point Marines and interacting with San Diego’s Montford Point Living Legend, but they are also having “amazing experiences” as cast members, experiences that are taking them “outside of their comfort zones.” Pointing to other cast members, Michelle noted that “audiences [get to] enjoy some outstanding talent on stage, me included.”

“Everyone in the audience could feel the excitement that flowed from these dedicated parents, youth and community members who practically developed their theatrical talents overnight. I was impressed to learn that, under the direction of Ms. Jennie Hamilton, the cast members had worked against the clock to bring the history of the original Montford Point Marines from their imaginations to the stage in record time,” said audience member Isam Herndon, “Fans of live, community theatre will find this one-of-a-kind all-volunteer production truly captivating and engaging.”

Project Ujima Director Elneda Shannon and Community Actors Theater Director Jennie Hamilton worked behind the scenes, supporting Project Ujima parents and their children through the whole process of attending workshops and community meetings about the history and accomplishments of the Montford Point Marines, through playwriting and acting workshops, to those first rehearsals until opening night. As strong advocates for parent involvement and student achievement, both women are confident that everyone who attends the performances will agree that the production is a fast-paced, heartfelt history lesson that is exciting and really quite moving.

There are only three performances left: June 27, 28, 29 2014. Fri/Sat at 7:00pm and Sunday Matinee at 3:00pm. All performances will be held at Community Actors Theatre, 2957 54th Street, San Diego, CA 92105. Tickets for the remaining performances of “The Montford Point Marines of San Diego: Legacies of Pride,” can be obtained through reservations at the Community Actors Theater (619) 264-3391. Suggested donation is $5.00 for the General Public, children ages 12 and under free.

Community Actors Theater located at 2957 54th Street, San Diego, CA 92105. (Corner of 54th & College Grove Dr. & Krenning St. across from the Oak Park Fire Station & Library).

Project Ujima of the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) is a dynamic program engaging African American families to achieve student academic success. Contributing factors to such success are promoting communal learning and fostering cultural pride. As such, Project Ujima is the proud recipient of a California Humanities Community Stories grant that enabled parents and their children to work collaboratively with the Montford Point Marines of San Diego, Chapter 12 to produce 10 digital stories and this original one-act play. The Montford Point Marines were the first African Americans to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps following President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 Executive Order 8802 requiring the U.S. military to recruit and enlist African Americans. Despite horrendous discrimination at home and within the ranks of the military, the Montford Point Marines served with honor and distinction. For Through 2013 and 2014, Project Ujima parents and students have chronicled the historical and contemporary significance of the Montford Point Marines to San Diego history and culture. The resulting digital stories and play will be made available for school and public workshops and presentations, with additional footage of project participants answering the question: “Why should all Californians care about the history and legacy of the Montford Point Marines?” In addition to learning the technology for chronicling the ongoing significance of the Montford Point Marines to San Diego County and beyond, Project Ujima students and their parents and caregivers will have meaningful interaction with living African American heroes and reaffirm the active struggle it takes to achieve social justice and advance personal and collective dreams.

The Parent Outreach and Engagement Department, the Harold J. Ballard Parent Center and Project Ujima are funded by the San Diego Unified School District’s Title 1 Program and the Target Foundation. This project was made possible with support from CAL Humanities, in partnership with the NEH. Experience more at www.calhum.org. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of Cal Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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