Tracey Copeland HalterA Director’s Reflections on “Lift Every Voice”

by Tracey Copeland Halter

It is 2013 and we have a Black president. When I looked at the history of this country through the eyes of the characters portrayed in Lift Every Voice, I realized it is the people of the Harlem Renaissance who helped to bring us where we are today. Their struggles, their pain, their laughter, tears, art, and music gave hope to a people that had none. Out of the songs that Black people brought here on chains, and from the birth of the Harlem Renaissance, came a world that, while not perfect, is a place where Black men and women can be artists, doctors, businessmen, and even President and most people don’t think twice about it.

Lift Every Voice is a delightful journey through the lives of a race of people who took pain, hurt and tears and turned them into love, joy and prosperity. They are a clear reminder of where we came from. I think sometimes we forget, in seeing the journey ahead of us, what was behind us. Doug Floyd has given us an indication, in this wonderful play, of the places we’ve traveled, reminding us that in order to know where we are going, we have to first look at where we have been.

Tracey Copeland Halter
Assistant Professor of Theatre – UTK