LATROBE, PA – Versatile entertainer and civil rights pioneer Josephine Baker will be featured in the next edition of History Dinner Theater, presented by Saint Vincent College’s Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, in the Fred M. Rogers Center on the Saint Vincent campus.
The performance replaces the originally scheduled Oct. 25 History Dinner Theater featuring Rosa Parks, which was forced to be canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.
Overcoming the limitations imposed by the color of her skin, Baker became one of the world’s most versatile entertainers, performing on stage, screen and recordings. Decorated for her undercover work for the French Resistance during World War II, she was a civil rights activist and often refused to perform to segregated audiences, which usually forced venue owners to forcibly desegregate theaters or risk losing her as a performer. Her opposition to segregation and discrimination was recognized by the NAACP. In 1963, she was one of the few women allowed to speak at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. She made efforts to integrate Las Vegas nightclubs and adopted 12 children from around the world whom she called her “rainbow tribe.”
Josephine Baker will be played by Vernice S. Jackson. Jackson is the president of the Board of Directors and Managing Director of Women in History. She has guided and watched WIH grow since its inception in 1991 and has found her experience with WIH quite extraordinary.
“Each time I step into a costume,” she said, “I open a door to the past and enable my character’s voice to be heard once again. I take pride in presenting details about her life and times that few people are aware of. I want my audience to know the woman as well as her historical contribution.” Ms. Jackson’s favorite character is Josephine Baker because, “she was a free spirit, who successfully reinvented herself over and over again. Obstacles were a temporary evil. She overcame poverty, lack of formal education, illnesses and racial discrimination. She was a true survivor.”
Jackson holds a bachelor of arts degree in communication from Baldwin Wallace and a Master of Science in organizational development and analysis from Case Western Reserve. She is an organizational development consultant, running her own practice named Match Method Solutions. Jackson actively mentors students as they transition from college into business and engineering professions. A civic volunteer in the Cleveland area for many years, Jackson is the proud mother of two daughters and one son, and “Grandma Niece” to two girls and a boy.
Attendees of the Oct. 25 performance will have the choice of Mediterranean chicken breast or grilled 10 oz. strip steak. Each entrée will be served with a salad, side dishes, soup and dessert.
Tickets are $65 per adult, $10 for children under 12 and $35 for students with valid IDs. Discount group rates for parties of 10 or more are also available, while season tickets to all five 2019-20 History Dinner Theater productions are available for $245. For more information or to order tickets, call 724-805-2177 or visit http://mccarlgallery.org/events.
PHOTO: Josephine Baker
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