A runaway slave is crouched behind a building. In panic she talks with Harriet Tubman about escaping. She is scared because she said her husband and daughter have just been sold. She doesn't want to be sold. She wants freedom.
Tubman reassures her that she has come to help her escape. They hear noises. They both scream. "O my Lord, the massah is coming!"
In the background, the old Negro spiritual, "Troubles of the World," is heard.
That is a scene from the Harriet Tubman Project program, performed by the Youth Empowerment Inc., a group of African-American students from suburban schools.
Ashlee Carlisle, 15, a student at Princeton High School, plays Tubman. Arielle Frazier, 15, also of Princeton, is the runaway slave. They were rehearsing for a performance at 4 p.m. Feb. 16 at Peace Baptist Church, 652 Rockdale Ave., Avondale.
Arielle Frazier and Ashlee Carlisle rehearse their parts for the "Harriet Tubman Project."
(Tony Jones photo)
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The program is sponsored by the Southwest District of the Federation of Colored Women's Clubs as part of its black history program. Diane Payton is chairwoman of the program.
"I love playing the part of Harriet Tubman because I have so much respect for her and what she did," Ashlee said. "The role gives me a chance to act out a different part of me. When I play this role, I feel that I am transformed to the 19th century."
In another scene, Thrisheana Rucker, 15, also a Princeton student, is playing Tubman as an older woman, talking and singing about her mission.
"Most of all, I can feel the bravery she had. I have lots of respect for her because she was a brave woman," Thrisheana said.
Others in the group are: Brandon Greenwood, 16; Alexius Scott, 16; Krishna Smiley, 16; Teriah Stewart, 15; and Timothy Wilson, 15, all of Middletown High School; Emanual Jones, 15, Roger Bacon High School; Madeane Jones, 16, Mount Notre Dame; Brooke Hines, 10, School for Creative and Performing Arts; Agyei Lewis, 16, Princeton High School; and Tisha Smith, 16, Winton Woods High School.
Merrell G. Frazier, project administrator, calls it the 21st Century Overground Railroad Project.
"The young must know and understand the works of those that preceded them," Frazier said. "It provides them the foundation to launch their own ideas, create their own work and go their way to build their futures."
He said the Overground Railroad Project made six stops last year. Performances this year will also be at St. Phillip CME Church in Hamilton Feb. 23; Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Feb. 28 and Heritage Hill Elementary School, Sharonville, at a time to be announced.
Allen Howard's "Some Good News" column runs Sunday-Friday. If you have suggestions about outstanding achievements, or people who are uplifting to the Tristate, let him know at 768-8362, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at 768-8340.
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