Pauletta Pearson Washington
It’s that time again! It’s that time when Thesbians and playwrights of color converge from various locations in the United States to Winston Salem N.C. to showcase their plays. Known affectionately as Black Theatre Holy Ground, the 2013 National BlackTheatre Festival (“NBTF”)
will commence on July 29, 2013.
The festival which occurs every two years was founded in 1989 by Larry Leon Hamlin. Hamlin died just weeks before the 2007 festival. At the time of his death, the economy started a downward spiral placing the Arts in a dismal funk. The NBTF is no exception to the harsh economic times, but it continues to persevere in the memory of Hamlin. Hamlin’s mother and wife continues to keep the festival afloat by keeping it interesting. Part of keeping the festival interesting is the performance selections.
This season, in addition to “Crowns”, “The Marvin Gaye Story”, “Lady Patriot”, “Fried Chicken & Latkes” and many more fine performances by exceptionally talented individuals, the festival brings back Lorey Hayes’ Power Play. The newly reworked piece is being produced by VOZA RIVERS/NEW HERITAGE THEATRE GROUP and DEBRA ANN BYRD/TAKE WING AND SOAR PRODUCTIONS, INC.
The play stars Pauletta Pearson Washington and Roscoe Orman. Febone1960.net had the privilege of interviewing Mrs. Washington, the wife of two times academy award winner Denzel Washington. We wanted to explore Pauletta Pearson Washington, the woman. During the interview we discovered some interesting black history regarding Mrs. Washington and her family.
Malcolm X insisted that he was the sum of all the people he had met.
That is basically true of all us, including Pauletta Pearson Washington and her famous husband. Most of you know her as the wife of Denzel Washington, but if the truth be told, Pauletta was an accomplished performer before taking on that title and has certainly been a positive influence on the actor’s career. That impact doesn’t come from being the woman behind the man, but from the woman who stands by his side on a solid foundation developed during her childhood by her parents. Pauletta’s parents placed a strong emphasis on education.
For both Hayes and Washington, bringing this play to the Central Piedmont area of North Carolina is akin to a homecoming.
Lorey Hayes a N.C, native is a graduate of N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro. Needlees to say she was a theatre major, and has turned into a prolific award winning playwright. Power Play is one of those award winning plays and it’s rumored that the rework is also deserving of an award.
Washington’s journey to the central Piedmont brings her closer to the roots of that foundation that still shapes her life.
This area is possibly the derivative of the integrity plus education plus Aggie Pride equal Pauletta Pearson Washington equation.
Pauletta was born in Iredell, North Carolina to Phairlever and Arletta Smallwood Pearson. She was raised in Newton Conover, N.C. The area is located in the western part of the state of North Carolina.
Her father an educator and civil rights leader was educated at N.C. A&T college. Her mother was born and raised in Eden, N.C. Eden is not far from Greensboro where she matriculated to the all female Bennett College. Bennett not being far from the Aggie campus made the meeting between Phairlever and Arletta all the more probable. It probably did not hurt matters that Phairlever Pearson was the drum major of the school’s band. It might have even escalated the chances for the college’s first drum major to win the Bennett Bell’s heart. Armed with a Bachelors of Science degree in education and sciences, Phairlever married his sweetheart and they moved to the western part of the state where he began teaching.
The degree Phairlever received in August of 1935 was not just a piece of paper. It was sheep skin backed with the integrity and pride instilled in him during his tenure as a student and drum major at N.C. A&T college. A&T’s mission was to educate people of color and develop leaders who would deliver the descendants of slaves from economic bondage cultivated by a Willie Lynch mentality.
Education was thought to be the way out of this dark and weary abyss. There were limited employment opportunities for people of color, so in turn those educated would become educators of others. There existed hope that we would one day break through the discriminatory barriers to entry into the whites only non domestic workers job market. However, we needed to be prepared when this equal opportunity came knocking.
At the inception of her birth, equal opportunity was on the horizons. Major league baseball and the armed services had integrated. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ended school segregation in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education. That opened the door for four freshmen students from Phairlever Alma Mater to initiate a nonviolent sit-in at the Greensboro’s Woolworths.
In listening to Pauletta describe how her father’s leadership lead to a smooth transition in the desegregation of the public schools without any opposition and violence, you knew that Phairlever Pearson had instilled that integrity and Aggie pride into his daughter.
The parents prepared Pauletta to take advantage of the opportunities that were beginning to surface. One of those opportunities was her successful matriculation to the all white Lenoir–Rhyne College in nearby Hickory, N.C. and the N.C. School Of The Arts where she earned her Bachelors of Arts Degree. Mrs. Washington also received a Masters in Fine Arts from North Texas State University. It was a matter of choice and not because she felt that the schools were superior to historical black colleges/universities (“HBCU”).
Fueled with a desire for their daughter to succeed in her life pursuits, Pauletta’s parents transported her back and forth to Charlotte, N.C. for piano lessons for ten years. So talented, Pauletta had become a member of the National Guild of Piano teachers in the sixth grade.
In 1970, opportunity came knocking for their daughter when she was asked to enter the Ms. Newton beauty contest. It might have been surprising to some but her historical win was not a surprise to her parents and those who knew her. The win elevated her to the Miss N.C. Beauty Pageant.
It is said that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. In Pauletta’ case it was education plus integrity plus self pride and pure talent that lead her into becoming the first black to not only enter the Miss North Carolina Beauty Pageant as a contestant, but to be selected by her peers as Miss Congeniality. Those peers happened to be white. It also placed her as the undisputed winner of the talent contest, bringing an all white audience to their feet after she delivered her rendition of the theme from the Valley Of the Dolls.
The record books places her firmly as second runner up in that contest in 1970. This is still quite a feat in the land of Jesse Helms.
Armed with a strong foundation (the sum of education, integrity and Aggie Pride) , Pauletta left N.C. in pursuit of an acting career. That strong foundation lead to a promising stage career on Broadway, film and television.
It also caught the attention of an unknown but up and coming actor named Denzel Washington who asked for her hand in marriage three times. See August 2013 Ebony Magazine In a recent interview with Ebony Magazine, Mr. Washington admits that there was something special about Pauletta and her family. He knew that he wanted to part of the Pearson family. The third marriage proposal was the charm and he and Pauletta have been married for thirty years. With Pauletta at the helm, they have raised four children.
Pauletta’s integrity and pride have had a profound influence on his career performances which has lauded him several awards including two Oscars and a Tony Award.
Although she and Denzel attended all white colleges, they know the importance of historically black colleges (“HBCU”). Their offsprings (John David, Katio, Malcolm and Olivia) have successfully earned their own college and post college degrees from an HBCU.
Black history is also something she thinks is very important. That may explain the selection of the roles she has selected as an actress, like Oprah Winfrey’s Beloved, and August Wilson’s Two Trains Running.
Pauletta and Denzil now have an empty nest which allows her to return full time to an acting career. She has landed the starring role in “Lorey Hayes’ Power Play”.
Opportunity now avails itself for all in the Piedmont triad to witness the talents of Pauletta Pearson Washington. The play starts its run tonight (July 30, 2013) at 3 PM at the NBTF. For more information, please go online to nbtf.org.
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What a difference a penny makes was probably the question on Roland Bauer’s mind last evening. Roland is the general manager of Thornton service station. Thornton’s had it’s grand opening this morning on it’s second service station in the Tampa Bay area. The station located west of the Veterans Express at the corner of George Road and west Hillsborough Ave had to open twenty minutes early to accommodate the many customers who wasted no time taking advantage of the penny difference between the new station and the Race Trac station located next door.
Maybe it was rebellion against Race Trac that offered gasoline for $3.39 a gallon just a few days ago. Before that it was $3.35 dropping from the $3.39 then jumping to $3.49 a gallon. All the stations in the immediate area follows Race Trac in pricing. There appears to be no competitive pricing, and one might think that their is some collusion taking place which offends to the highest the Federal Anti-Trust Act.
Roland Bauer (right)
At 5 A.M this morning Roland saw the cars lining down George Road. The customers not only found a cheaper gas price, but they found free coffee and fountain drinks. The free drinks will last for thirty days. Customers took advantage of the offer and they also purchased breakfast sandwiches to go after filling their tanks. Although they could pay at the pump, they got out their cars and gathered inside for some friendly banter. As they walked in they were warmly greeted and served by Thornton employees with infectious smiles.
Tonya Robinson (left) Recruiter/Trainer
Offering much needed employment, the station is a welcome to the town country area of Hillsborough county. The station is also estatic about the area. According to Tonya Robinson, a recruiter and trainer for the Kentucky based chain, the area accommodates their diversity plan for employment. The area is a heavily populated Latino community with a mixture of blacks and whites. It is both blue collar and middle class.
Within a few hours after their opening, other stations followed suit and drop their prices. Could a gas price war be brewing? Time will tell. For now however, Thornton’s and the penny difference with a smile is a welcomed blessing for the Tampa Bay economy.
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Dr. George E. Bonney
He arrived in this country to further his education. Unlike many of his ancestors, George came to the United States not on a slave ship but on his own accord. Upon arrival with his wife and children, George Bonney soon experienced some of the discrimination that couldn’t match the horrific treatment his ancestor’s had experienced in bondage. Like WEB Dubois, who had left the United States to live the rest of his life in George’s home country of Ghana, Dr. George E. Bonney found power in knowledge. With the civil rights movement firmly holding his back he used the power of knowledge to overcome any and all discriminatory obstacles. George became a faculty and staff member as a Statistical Geneticist and Biostatistician, Professor of Community Health and Family Medicine at the Howard University (“HU”) College of Medicine, and Director of the Statistical Genetics and Bioinformatics Unit in the National Human Genome Center (NHGC) at HU.
Dr. Bonney eventually became a United States citizen. Armed with the gift of helping, he dedicated his life in helping people in both the United States and Ghana to achieve an education which resulted in gainful employment and productive citizenship.
As he approached retirement, he eagerly made plans to focus full time and attention on the Village Schools of Africa, a non-profit organization dedicated to education of underprivileged children in Ghana and across the continent of Africa. George established the non-profit more than five years ago. Those plans will not be realized by George who walked the last mile of the way on life’s highway on June 29, 2013. He is survived by a loving wife, a son and a daughter and two grandchildren. George’s wife Efua is an educator herself and is quite capable of carrying out George’s mission. I have no doubt that she will pick up the batton, for she too possess the gift of helping.
Although George never forgot his homeland, he will be funeralized and buried in the U.S.
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It’s Sunday morning in McDonald’s and most of the regulars are in for their morning cup of Joe.
The Vietnam vets are at their usual table discussing the downside to the technology that now prevents them from being backyard mechanics.
Celeste (not her real name) is in her corner ,but something is a little different about her this morning. Although she has been plagued by health issues the gray haired black woman is not smiling. Always cordial, Celeste is hovered over by a slim white man who appears to be trying to console her.
Celeste’s laptop was not visible, and her bicycle was also absent.
Could it be that someone mugged Celeste and took everything she owned?
You see Celeste is homeless. That’s got to be a hard road for a black woman who appears to be on the downside of fifty years of age. Celeste is no Jackie Brown, and she lives a different type of street life that Randy Crawford sings of in her 70′s hit with the Crusaders. The song was featured in the film Jackie Brown starring Pam Grier.
How does she and other similarly situated women make it in a homeless world? Life for the homeless has proven to be difficult in a post 9/11 world. The laws which once leaned towards freedom and equal protection now acts as enemy combatants against the homeless. No identification for lack of a fixed address has relegated these American born citizens to a non citizen status. Most people treat their pets better than the homeless are treated.
The Boston bombing suspect has it better than these individuals who have lost their ability to vote because of their homeless status.
The Boston bombing suspect has three hots and a cart. Until convicted he can still be considered a registered voter. If he can’t afford a lawyer the government will provide him with one at no charge. Further his rights are being scrutinized to make sure they are not violated. It’s understood and under the U.S. Constitution that he should be afforded these rights in protecting his liberty.
Ironically, the homeless whose liberty is not questioned because they are not incarcerated are considered as trespassers by most people. Most merchants refuse their request to use the bathroom where they try to clean themselves up to maintain some kind of dignity. They may not be behind bars, but their liberty is definitely restricted in many ways by their status.
In one instance, a homeless woman’s suspended drivers license was confiscated by police after she presented it upon request for some identification. The woman who has no car, now finds that she can’t vote or get a decent hotel room when she collects enough money to do so.
Who protect their rights? Who fights for Celeste? How is she protected on the streets when night falls? Celeste like others find refuge in local churches that feed and cloth the homeless.
Another unlikely champion of the homeless is McDonald’s 24 hours service. McDonald’s does not deny the homeless the right to come onto their public accommodation. Nor do they deny them the privilege of using the bathroom. Just like any other customer as long as they are orderly they are treated with respect. This is why they are regular customers. Yes they do patronize the fast food restaurant by purchasing from the dollar menu and like Celeste, they utilize McDonald’s free WiFi. As they surf the net to keep abreast of local news weather ans sports, they charge up their cell phones if they are fortunate enough to have one.
This particular McDonald’s is near Uncle Bob’s storage where most of the homeless who patronize McDonald’s rent a small storage locker for their belongings. They organize these possession with compartmental plastic containers purchased at the Dollar Tree.
It’s a hard hard road, but Celeste has managed to endure with a little help from local Churches, the Dollar Tree and McDonald’s 24 hour service and their dollar menu.
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Recently I read an article pertaining to McDonald’s Broken Service
During a webcast last month the McDonald’s executives indicated that 20 percent of complaints were related to workers’ attitudes. According to the Wall Street Journal, gripes about “rude or unprofessional employees” topped the list, and complaints that it took too long to get food increased “significantly,” over the last six months.
If McDonald’s is looking for a solution they should travel to Tampa, Florida to store number 856 located at 4333 Hillsborough Avenue. Upon arrival they will find a friendly crew lead by Tiffany Arrington.
As the store’s general manager, Tiffany runs a well organized restaurant. Service is always with a smile. As you enter the door you’re greeted with warmth.
The floors and tables are always clean, and the bathrooms are exceptionally clean. Windows are washed everyday, and the grounds are liter free.
The employees take their job of providing great service serious.
As you sit at your table, an employee approaches to see how they can better serve you.
That is not service broken. Instead that is service that makes you come back again and again, and again.
What is Tiffany’s secret? I will leave that up to the executives to explore. The Casper Company who owns that franchise already knows what a gem they have in Tiffany. They just promoted her to another store to spread the sunshine she describes as dedicated service.
So if you’re traveling to Tampa stop by to get some of that sunshine along with some delightful meals such as the McWRAP from their menu.
Make the connection.
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