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Theater and Education for Social Action

Mar 26, 2023
flyer for NCCU

This webinar features a collaborative effort between the Wilmette Institute and NCCU (North Carolina Central University), a historically Black university in Durham, North Carolina. These two institutions utilized the power of combining theater and education to put on a thought-provoking play, The Bus Stop, that features how the mass incarceration of Black men affects Black women, their families, and the community. The panel will include two professors from NCCU – one who started the collaboration between the institutions and the other who mobilized her graduate students to facilitate the post-performance discussions and continued to challenge her students with transformative pedagogy to build capacity for social action. An NCCU graduate student, and formerly justice-involved activist will share their experiences in raising awareness about the need for reform. The Baha’i perspective on questioning the underlying assumptions of society and how we can approach the root causes of issues such as mass incarceration of people of color will be explored.

The Moderator for this panel discussion will be Dr. Chitra Golestani, WI Associate Director. See list of panelists from NCCU below, who will be joined by Bus Stop’s playwright, Najee Brown.

Najee Brown (pictured below) is the Founder of Theater for the People, a new theater company for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color based in Eliot, Maine. Speaking to Seacoastonline, Brown said “Our number 1 mission is diversity, not just in talent, but in the production staff.”

Theater for the People plans to produce throughout New England and New York, and to build community “through the pursuit of oneness and diversity,” to connect people of all races, ages, cultural backgrounds and socio-economic groups, and to provide artists of color the opportunity to produce and present work to diverse audiences, “uplifting voices of true nobility in the midst of adversity.”

Source: “BIPOC touring theater is born: Najee Brown makes impact on Seacoast with Theater For The People

photo of Najee Brown in a black sweatshirt with a pink and purple logo made of hands intertwining

Student Contributors

Kalimah Williams (Director): Kalimah is a Junior Performance Theatre major at North Carolina Central University. She has portrayed Alisa in “Long Time Since Yesterday”, Ms. Caldwell in “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show”, Pamela in “Kites” and Ms. Deborah in “The Bus Stop” on the University Stage. She has previously worked in the role of Stage Manager for “House of George” during the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, NC in August 2022. Ms. Williams is also a writer, having published her debut novel Bound in April 2021.

Kyla Brown: “I’m from Greensboro NC. I am currently a sophomore at North Carolina Central University studying theatre with a concentration in preforming track. While I have worked on previous productions backstage,Bus Stop was my debut to the front of the stage. Playing mahogany has lead to many opportunities on the stage for me.”



Dr. Harvey L. McMurray

Dr. McMurray is Professor of Criminal Justice at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, a Masters Degree in Urban Studies at Howard University and his doctorate degree in Criminal Justice at Rutgers University. A former Washington, D.C. police officer in the early 1970s, Dr. McMurray arrived at NCCU in August, 1987. His research areas include community policing, homeland security concerns, comparative criminal justice, and community change. He is a 1998-1999 Senior Fulbright Scholar and was assigned to the Sociology Department at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. His tenure at Makerere included several speaking engagements throughout Uganda and South Africa. He served as a senior consultant for the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI). Dr. McMurray traveled to Uganda in an advisory capacity at the request of the Uganda Prisons Service in 2006 and 2009.


Professor Penny Carroll

Penny Carroll's qualified achievements in social work practice, public health, and community collaboratives span over 20 years. As a professor at NC Central University, Department of Social Work, she empowers undergraduate and graduate students to reach their highest academic potential far beyond the classroom walls. Her charismatic and energetic teaching style inspires students to be authentic leaders while discovering unique utilization of digital technology to enhance social workers’ reach and scope of the profession. A promoter of advocacy and agent of change, Professor Carroll has created a template of modern digital technology adaptation that educates, heightens social awareness, supports individual and community engagement and partnerships, and other transformative instruction that builds capacity for social action.


Ms. Nora Dicker

Nora is a social worker, passionate about working alongside those with mental health conditions and justice involved individuals. She is a current MSW member student at NCCU, looking forward to graduating in May of 2023. Nora worked at a transitional house for men released from prison, and now is currently a Student Coordinator at Boomerang Youth, Inc., an alternative to suspension program in Orange County, NC, and has based much of her research for her school program on mass incarceration and the School to Prison Pipeline.


Mr. Tyrone Lamont Baker

Born and raised in Durham, NC, Tyrone Lamont Baker made a series of decisions as a teenager that resulted in a 22-year prison sentence. While incarcerated, Mr. Baker completed dozens of classes, acquired numerous trades, and read over 500 books about topics ranging from hedge fund management to race relations. He also authored multiple articles for academic journals before authoring the critical, pseudo-academic text, A Convict’s Perspective: Critiquing Penology and Inmate Rehabilitation (which is available on Amazon). After an 8 year sentence reduction, Mr. Baker was released in 2020, and has since become a homeowner and an entrepreneur.


Chitra Golestani, PhD

WI Associate Director, Faculty, Institute for Humane Education

Dr. Chitra Golestani is currently Associate Director of the Wilmette Institute and an Adjunct Faculty at the Institute for Humane Education/Antioch University. She also works as an educational consultant, guest lecturer, qualitative researcher, and a co-founder of the Paulo Freire Institute (PFI) at UCLA - an organization committed to social justice education locally and globally. Her areas of interest, lectures and research include Human Rights, Social Justice and Global Citizenship Education, Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice, Youth Activism in Extended Education, Conscious Living and Social Action. She holds a PhD in Social Science and Comparative Education from UCLA and a Master’s in Education from University of California, Santa Barbara. Her areas of interest, lectures and research include Human Rights, Social Justice and Global Citizenship Education, Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice, Youth Activism in Extended Education, Conscious Living and Social Action. In September 2019, she began a new administrative position as Associate Director of the Wilmette Institute. Her work is inspired by her lived experience with persecution in the country of her birth, Iran, where members of the Bahá’í Faith are not allowed to practice, are prohibited from accessing higher education, and denied other civil rights. While still a young child, her family escaped this marginalization and fled to the US in search of religious freedom, equality between women and men and human rights. Currently, Dr. Golestani is engaged in numerous grass-roots programs aimed at raising human capacity, locally and globally, to work towards a more just, united, and sustainable planet. Listen to Chitra's interview on "A Bahá’í Perspective."See Faculty Bio


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