Even when she was forced to teach between jobs she

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Even when she was forced to teach between jobs, she kept her focuson drama—and breaking down racial barriers. Between 1939 and 1941she taught dramatic arts at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Car-olina, where in that short period she made a historical firstPaula Giddings / 65
for the school and Blacks. Bennett was invited to participate in the NorthCarolina Drama Festival, an annual event sponsored by the associationof drama departments from colleges and high schools throughout thestate. Adams’s group were invited as guests, as there were no Blackaffiliates in the association, and therefore they were not an official partof the competition. But when the invitation came, she thought it an“excellent opportunity to propagandize these young white people.”12She selected Paul Peters’sLetter to the President, a drama about a Blacksharecropper whose frustration at being unable to support his familyby farming under that exploitive system violently retaliates against theWhite farm owner. The title of the one-act play came from a scene inwhich the young daughter of the sharecropper writes a letter to thePresident begging him to somehow stop the lynch mob that has gatheredoutside their cabin door. In the end, the mob succeeds in burning downthe cabin, consuming the entire family within its flames.Although the Bennett group was technically ineligible to take partin the competition, their performance was so moving that they receivedthe winner’s plaque—the first time a Black group had done so in thetwenty-five years of its history.Adams wasn’t the only one to pursue the arts. Myra Hemmings, whoreceived her master’s in speech from Northwestern University, andtaught in San Antonio, was also very active in amateur theater. She wasa major figure in the San Antonio Negro Little Theater, where she dir-ected many of its productions. Her husband, John “Pop” Hemmingswas a dramatist and its director. Ethel Watson, in addition to herteaching career, noted that she was well remembered for her dramaticperformances in Ocala, Florida, where she once presentedShe Stoops toConquer, and in her home Parkersburg, West Virginia’s, Smoot Theater.In the latter she presented two “all-colored revues—giving an excep-tionally clever performance and displaying gorgeous costumes whichI designed and made of satins, tricotine spangles, and tarleton,” shewrote in a bio sketch. “I have been the only colored who has ever givena performance at Smoot Theater for Warner Brothers in Parkersburg,West Virginia,” she noted.13There were also wordsmiths in the group. To no one’s surpriseMadree White, who believed deeply in Kelly Miller’s conviction of thepower of the pen to fight injustice, became a journalist; she also wrotepoetry, and gathered a number of poems in a volume titledReveries ina Poetic Vein. Wertie Weaver published a novel,Valley of66 / In Search of Sisterhood
the Poor, about racism, poverty, and exploitation—“diseases” that scienceattempts to overcome.

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Term
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Fraternities and sororities, National Pan Hellenic Council, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

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