Sharing Our Legacy Dance Theatre to Perform in Tuscaloosa

Sharing Our Legacy is a performing group of undergraduate and graduate students that uses interdisciplinary art to bring powerful stories from the past to audiences of all ages.

By Diane Kennedy-Jackson
Publications Coordinator, Division of Community Affairs

Sharing Our Legacy Dance Theatre (SOL) will perform at Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, Sept. 14, at 2 p.m. as part of the ongoing Realizing the Dream performing arts series. The performance is free and open to the public.

SOL is a performing group of undergraduate and graduate students that uses interdisciplinary art to bring powerful stories from the past to audiences of all ages. Created under the Community Engagement Initiative at the University of Delaware, the group is under the artistic direction of Dr. Lynnette Young Overby. SOL members conduct research on African-American history to add meaningful foundations to their performances and work with outside collaborators, such as historical researchers, guest choreographers, composers and artists, as well as educational organizations, to further enhance their productions.

Dr. Byron Abston, Associate Dean for Student Services at Shelton State Community College and a member of the Realizing the Dream Committee, noted that Shelton State has been a proud participant in the Martin Luther King Jr. Realizing the Dream annual celebrations for many years, adding that the partnership has provided many opportunities to learn from one another and share unique talents.

“Given that Shelton State has the distinct honor of being designated as the Alabama Junior College of the Fine Arts, and is home to the Sandra Hall Ray Fine Arts Center, the College has been a natural partner with the Realizing the Dream Committee,” said Abston. “Audiences have benefited from the collaborations with a wide variety of performing artists from all over the country. It has been a great opportunity for our faculty, staff, students and the entire community to experience these educational and cultural performances.”

SOL’s performance in Tuscaloosa will bring attention to Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the first African-American woman newspaper editor in North America. The production includes a multidisciplinary presentation of original choreography, music and poetry to portray her life and times. Cary was born in 1823 to a free family in Wilmington, Delaware. After editing the Provincial Freeman in the 1850s, she went on to become the first black woman to enroll in Howard University’s then-new School of Law. Despite her many accomplishments, Cary is relatively unknown.

“There are many untold stories of courageous African Americans who achieved greatness in spite of racial and gender discrimination,” said Overby. “Mary Ann Shadd Cary is one of those people. We are pleased to be able to share the premiere of this arts-based research project, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Her Life and Legacy. We hope the performance will engage and inspire audiences of all ages to learn her story and pass the baton of empowerment to everyone they encounter.”

In addition to their Saturday performance, the group will perform and conduct a workshop for Hillcrest students on Friday, Sept. 13.

“The Tuscaloosa County School System is excited and honored to partner with the Realizing the Dream Committee to bring this performance to our students and to our community,” said Terri Brewer, director of public relations for the Tuscaloosa County School System. “This will provide a wonderful opportunity for our students to experience how the performing arts can convey history and a powerful message.”

Both events are hosted by the Realizing the Dream Committee, comprised of members from Stillman College, Shelton State Community College, the Tuscaloosa Southern Christian Leadership Conference and The University of Alabama. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Realizing the Dream Committee exists to raise consciousness about injustice and promote human equality, peace, and social justice by creating educational and cultural opportunities for growth, empowerment, and social change so that every person may experience the bounty of life’s abundant possibilities.

For more information, contact The University of Alabama Division of Community Affairs at or 205-348-8376.