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Howard Students Can See a James Baldwin Classic, ‘The Amen Corner,’ on College Night

Deidre LaWan Starnes as Sister Boxer and Mia Ellis as Sister Margaret Alexander in “The Amen Corner” by James Baldwin. (Photo by Scott Suchman)

By Jaylen Williams

James Baldwin has entered into the cultural zeitgeist once again, after the release of “I Am Not Your Negro” and the trending of videos with Nikki Giovanni. His debut play, “The Amen Corner,” which was first performed at Howard University in 1955, makes its comeback just down the road at The Shakespeare Theatre in the Sidney Harman Hall. 

Baldwin writes a timeless and introspective look inside the black church and the dynamic of the black family. A self-righteous woman named Sister Margaret leads a church, but “pride goeth before a fall” and her past comes back to bite her.  

After the play was performed at Howard University, it had a short run on Broadway a decade later in 1965, but fell into obscurity. Director Whitney White is giving Howard students a chance to view the Baldwin classic more than a half century after it premiered on their campus during college night on Feb. 22. 

The cast also includes Howard students, faculty and alumni. Local colleges and musicians will perform before the show on College Night, which will include a talkback with faculty members and the cast at the end.

There’s a certain familiarity present in Baldwin’s play, said Nia Aiyana Meeks, a Howard student who sings in the play’s choir. 

“All Howard students might not be familiar with the church, but I want them to feel connected,” Meeks said. “There is someone in the show they know.”  

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Students can register with the code College20 to buy discounted tickets for $20 for the Feb. 22 performance of “The Amen Corner.” They must also show a valid student ID. (The regular price is $59 to $120.) Sidney Harman Hall is located at 610 F Street NW.

Learn more here.


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