Studio Arena Kickoff - January 1, 2005

Carol Halter, Director of Development, Studio Arena Theatre, and Barbara Seals Nevergold.
Carol Halter, Director of Development, Studio Arena Theatre, and Barbara Seals Nevergold.

On January 1, 2005, the Uncrowned Queens Institute, the Studio Arena Theatre, Tops Markets, Inc., County Legislator Demone A. Smith, the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitor's Bureau, the Mary B. Talbert Civic and Cultural Club, Xi Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Afro American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier, Inc., the Institute for Research & Education on Women & Gender at UB, Ujima Theatre, the Colored Musicians Club, the Kenan Center, National Conference for Community and Justice, the Buffalo Teachers Federation, the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, Niagara Freedom Station Coalition, Buffalo Educational Opportunity Center hosted a Kick-off event to commemorate the Centennial of the Niagara Movement founding in 1905. 

This event, free and open to the public, attracted more than 200 individuals.  From 1:00 - 3:00pm. (Although some people didn't want to go home at three), participants visited informational tables set up by the community partners, listened to fantastic music compliments of the Colored Musician's Club, met members of the cast of Crowns including the director, Marion Caffey, and generally had a good time socializing. 

Peggy Bertram in front of panel exhibit at Studio Arena Theatre
Uncrowned Queens co-chair, Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram stands in front of two of the panels honoring local uncrowned queens. The panel display is part of an exhibit at the Studio Arena Theatre.

During a short program, Ken Neufeld, Studio Arena Theatre's Executive Director welcomed everyone to the Theatre.  Melonya Johnson, the Convention & Visitor's Bureau associate for Multicultural affairs also addressed the audience. The Uncrowned Queens Institute presented its prestigious Culture Keeper Awards to Mrs. Lillion Batchelor, founder of the Buffalo Quarters Historical Society and Mrs. Wilma Morrison, founding member of the Norval Heritage Library and the Niagara Black History Society (Niagara Falls, Ontario). This year, 2005, was proclaimed as the Niagara Centennial Year by proclamations which were presented by a representative for County Legislator Demone A. Smith and County Executive Joel Giambra.  Representative Louise Slaughter sent a letter of commendation to the Institute for its role in organizing the commemorative event. 

We were also pleased to unveil a new exhibit featuring fifteen local uncrowned queens. These women in their church hats as symbolic of the many hats (roles that women play day to day and throughout their lives) worn by community builders. The Exhibit will be on display at the Studio Arena during the production of Crowns. Studio Arena will also display the photos of each woman in their playbill for the duration of the Crowns production run.  Special thanks to our corporate sponsor:  Tops Markets, Inc., and other sponsors, Hon. Demone A. Smith, the Institute for Research & Education on Women and Gender, Inc., the Buffalo Teacher's Federation, Xi Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Mary B. Talbert Civic & Cultural Club for making this exhibit possible.