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BBE Comments from the June 2, 2017 Workshop
“Exploring Tools to Help Dissolve Racism & Other Discriminations”
This was a unique event and I appreciate how much preparation was involved. The careful and thorough planning made for an effective, flowing and valuable learning experience- not to mention getting to meet lots of new people who are struggling to end racism. Well done. Thank you! Catherine Crockett
Nice balance of activity, lecture and video. Karen Lehman
I love the variety of teacher methods used. Some are visual and easy to remember. The video clips are great. Sylvia Shih
Very good workshop. You could do this workshop at CSUMB or other places. Persay Bryant
Great job LaVerne! The projects you had us to do really influence the brain and what I was able to bring into greater understanding because of the kinesthetics. You’ve tackled a huge arena and you’ve done a very thorough coverage with a tapestry of elements that work together so beautifully. Rita Thangaraj
Thank you so much for organizing and delivering the workshop! I really enjoyed the day and appreciated the opportunity for community building around such an important and (unfortunately) relevant topic in today’s culture. NN
Here are a few found at onlinecollege.org. They are tips from successful writers:
Toni Morrison. “Remember that writing is always about communication.”
Oscar Wilde. Be unpredictable. Wilde suggested that “consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”
Anais Nin. “The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.”
Anton Chekhov. Show, don’t tell. This advice comes out of most every writing class taught. Chekhov said it most clearly when he said, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
To sum it all up: Quote of the Month: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ― Toni Morrison
COMMENTS FROM DRAMATIC CORN HOLLOW PRESENTATIONS:
Audience Comments from Dramatic Author Presentation held at Carmel Valley Community Chapel on September 28, 2017
It was important to see the colored/white separations in the bus experience through the eyes of an innocent child. A hard education for her to see that honoring one’s elders did not cross color lines. CY
You made it real for me. For me, I could feel the frustration and confusion of that little black girl- her first realization that the world is not fair! Thank you for your passion. Nancy R
Your presentation was very powerful. I didn’t grow up in this country. I wasn’t exposed to discrimination in my country as I only saw it on tv and in the movies. To see you evoke what your experience was like makes it real for me.
What struck me tonight was the tragedy of a child who knows nothing of bigotry and prejudice being taught to know her “place” in a white racist society. The violence done to a young, energetic, curious and innocent spirit is appalling. No child should ever have to “learn” that he or she is less than. Rick
I appreciate the interactive nature of your presentation. The “stage setting” and rows of pews helped bring reality to the bus situation. Susan
LaVerne’s dramatization gave me a multi-dimensional feeling more of my senses than reading the book myself and it was a conversation between my eyes and my brain. So much more feeling as each character is experienced more vivid, more felt. Ellen
My heart is sad because I grew up in the south and experienced all of this that you spoke about- a lot of the sadness and unfairness. Linda Montenegro
AUDIENCE COMMENTS & REMARKS from Dramatic Author Presentation held at Esalen Institute on August 23, 2017
I appreciated the dramatization versus just talking. Well done! Seeing things like discrimination from the perspective of a child was helpful.
Ms. McLeod, I would like to acknowledge you for providing us an opportunity for empathy to arise inside of an immersion experience of racism, separation and degradation. Your work is of value. Thank you! K. Elder
That presentation touched me very deeply. I was moved to tears and my heart felt deep pain. JL
Thank you for reminding me to be awake, aware and alert. It was also very helpful to send love to the perpetrators of violence and racism. I shall carry that with me and use it on my journey. Thank you again.
The presentation aroused deep grief for our history and desire to not repeat the past. Ben Red
Prejudice is real and there is all kinds. Things are at times very subtle. More awareness is needed. TP
People are different in many ways. If we are aware of this in life, we can appreciate our world and fill our world with love. If we are not full of love for our self, it will be hard to find love for people that have differences. ML
I was struck by how our society allowed systematic psychological traumatization to be perpetrated every day. JH
Love in the beginning. Love in the end.
This brought up humiliation. Feeling helpless against societal norms even though I don’t necessarily agree. Carlos
The presentation brought up the memory of my father explaining to me about the different drinking fountains as we drove through the sough in the 50’s. Vicki
We must stay AWAKE and COMPASSIONATE. We are not separate from this reality- HOPE & ACTION. PD
Thank you for your courage and inspiration. I pledge to build bridges to equity. The word UNIOPAN means one of all. We need a vision of where we are going. Simple vision like, all are fed. All are safe. It really is simple. Let’s make this one planet a garden.
This presentation is the profound tragedy of the initiation of racism and bigotry to a 7-year old girl.
AUDIENCE COMMENTS from Dramatic Author Presentation at Whites for Racial Equity on August 17, 2017
A powerful presentation, brought to life by including the participation of the audience.
I was holding back a flood of tears and was surprised at the depth of pain I contacted.
An emotionally moving and intellectually stimulating evening- Thank you so much for opening my heart and mind.
Please do as much live dramatization as possible. We grew up being told nothing only “black people can’t swim in the swimming pool” for example. The best education ever! Your special gift touched my heart.
Thank you LaVerne for asking us to attempt the very difficult by sending love to those who hate. TA
This presentation does so much to visualize what it was like growing up in 1954. This shows all kind of people from all walks of life should and must be viewed as equal human beings. Please do more of these presentations that shape the world you desire to be.
Thank you for writing the book and sharing an evening that took us into the book at such a pivotal moment in history. Bob Sadler
It was heart-breaking to witness the little girl- excited, open & curious- being shamed and overpowered by the brutal and inhumane system of racism.
You did well. Got to keep hearing, “treat everyone the same.”
How can I feel or express love for those who hate and hurt others? It is a challenge that I continue to struggle with.
My favorite part was the interaction between mother and daughter on the bus. Powerful demonstration about the institution of racism.
Although the word “RACE“ is commonly used to differentiate between colors, cultures, ethnicities, religions and classes of our human family, the reality is that we are all one RACE- the HUMAN RACE (which first emerged in Africa!). Thank you for your presentation. Katharina Harlow
I grew up in Claremont. Merlie Evers brought her family after Medgar was killed. They were the first black family in my hometown. Her daughter Rene was in my girl scout troop. I found myself reflecting that Rene may have probably had an experience like the one you dramatized. Ann McDowell
Reminded me of being in Florida by ship from Australia and traveling from Ft. Lauderdale to NYC by Greyhound bus. I was shocked and appalled to see the signs for bathrooms, water fountains, etc as well as the attitude towards African Americans who were people just like us. Pauline
I was born far away in my country never had racial issues, though the lack of interracial co-existence may speak about it. Humanity gets their ways to express fear. I am sorry for the history. .Today and from my foreign eyes seem surrealistic that these issues exist. I embrace the pain and love of this presentation. Thank you LaVerne. Liz V.
I was taken by the little girl’s confusion about why there were so many signs in so many places that were labeled “white” and “colored”- how the two words seemed new to her from her pronunciation to spelling of them. I really loved her chatter, trying to figure all of this out- to make sense of it somehow when in reality there was no sense to it at all.
Great presentation and bringing us to do some real thinking!
I was most impacted by the way white and black expected the young black girl to learn and fall In line with “the system” for very different reasons. Your enactment of each character was enlightening. Thank You.
LaVerne makes the reality of racism come alive to educate and open our hearts.
Stupendous one-woman, one-act tragic soliloquy about many voices
Thank you for this powerful presentation-very moving. Brought up a lot of disturbing memories of traveling through the South with my family as a child in the 50’s.
Loved being able to stand together and sing “We Shall Overcome.”
AUDIENCE COMMENTS from Dramatic Presentation at The Breakthrough Men’s Community & The Village Project on 4/2/17
Acceptance without understanding is merely mental. Dialogue, literature, theatre and sharing experiences with people from different backgrounds and cultures and appearances is key to learning and understanding at the cellular and emotional level. Ellen Gannon
I was raised in a small west Texas town in the 1940’s-50’s that had sundown ordinances which required that African Americans leave the city limits by sunset. Seeing LaVerne’s performance put me in touch with the mindset of whites of that era that considered such an atrocious perspective to be “normal.” I didn’t have the opportunity nor privilege of knowing an African American until I was in my 20’s. Thank you LaVerne for the memory and for the important work you are doing. Bill Herr
Very moving- never seen an author act out their book. It was a lot of talent on display. The impact and persuasiveness of subservience – intergenerational trauma. Association of Black Psychologists
Thank you for the honest, thoughtful and thought-provoking (emotion-provoking) presentation. We are a multi-colored society, but it is truly the kids who tend to not see color!
Growing up in California, I had not experienced racism until I went to Alabama in 1971. It was then that I actually saw what I had read or been told about. Thany you for your presentation. I hope you take your play to schools. Nancy
Thank you for your great presentation. Keep up the good work! Miriam Low
Your book and your presentation are timely. More white people need more experience with people of color. What you are doing is ever helpful and needed. We all need to mix more. Your acting out of this is great. There are so many different situations in all of our many States. Judy
AUDIENCE COMMENTS FROM CalRTA Division 29, February 15th, 2017
LaVerne reenacted a scene from a snapshot of a life of a child in the 1950’s. She made an emotional connection with her audience demonstrating how not to treat others. Indeed, all people deserve fairness and equality.
A brilliant and compelling evocation and synopsis of a child’s experience confronting divided worlds. Thank You!
An inspiring one-woman show of history-from the eyes of prejudice and humanity. Paula Browning
A realistic sketch of a divided world back in the 50’s. Good presentation for the schools and groups because today so many young people of color do not understand what their ancestors have gone through. Cheryl McGhan
Considering our current state of government, this book and author reminds people to remain vigilant. Thanks for your work!
Let’s not go back [to those early times]. We are One people in love and compassion, we can heal ignorance.
LaVerne gave a moving presentation from an excerpt of her book about how racial prejudice affected a child in the 1960’s. Very well done. A must read for all.
I enjoyed your presentation. Yes; we must stick together and stay positive and never let those times of segregation return.
LaVerne gives a lively and compelling performance in readings of her book, Corn Hollow. She gives an insight into the characters and a desire to read the whole story. Patricia Domingo
In LaVerne’s expressive enactment of various characters in the deep south, my heart was most touched by her portrayal of a vibrant little girl confused by her initial awareness of scorn and rejection. Her natural, innocent curiosity perceived as offensive, is a sad stunting of a sense of wonder for any child, such a loss for all of humanity. Kudos to you, LaVerne for, with compassionate assertion deepening awareness, energizing the momentum of a movement to integrated peace. Vivian Danzer
I felt a lot of empathy for the Black child who just wanted to see the yarn and who was confused by segregation.
Timely. Racism was and is the result of categorizing a group of people as separate thereby making it easier to dehumanize them. I fear the same thing is occurring now with respect to labeling one another as conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat rather than recognizing that we are all human beings deserving of love, kindness, and compassion. Katherine Malengo
Very good presentation-thought provoking-interesting.
Coming from the East Bakersfield High School which had about equal numbers of Blacks, Whites and Mexicans, I never thought there was any differences. Then I went to Nevada and Missouri and saw signs: Coloreds Only, Coloreds Not Allowed, Whites Only. Even folks from India could not be served in restaurants and hotels would not allow dark-skinned persons to rent a room. What a difference from Bakersfield!
*****Comments from Dramatic Presentation at the Carmel Women’s Club, January 16th, 2017
The dramatization of a chapter in your book helped see a glimpse of what it was like for a child growing up in the south and the injustice that occurred. J.M.
I enjoyed listening and watching you doing different roles. Loved it! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!
Excellent. Brilliant. Timely. Channeled. The ten-minute question/comment section proved valuable with individual stories of personal experiences. I can see a follow-up of these stories, inspired by Corn Hollow and published. Thank you so much for doing this and being Laverne. Much Love, Ellen
What a fitting day to honor Martin Luther King Jr. by somebody who’d live during the segregation. There is still a lot of work to do. M.
Excellent presentation. Thank You.
Thank you for manning all those memories current and timely. We can never forget.
Great dramatic presentation! I am looking forward to reading Corn Hollow to find out the rest of the story. Linda J.
A powerful book and presentation. Relevant to our times. Paul M. Finnegan
*****Comments from Dramatic Author Presentation at the Grange, Dec 10th, 2016
“LaVerne, your presentation was everything I hoped it would be: the true voice of the characters and the truth about the times they lived in. The room was full of such amazing witnesses and activists. I was honored to be invited.” DW
“Thank you for bringing this issue [dissolving racism] to the community. Much needed! There is always room for EMPATHY and compassion for all those opposed as well as those living in fear and innocence.”
“Thanks for your heartfelt sharing. Living in our little bubble, it is easy to forget about racial conflict. I so appreciate your unique perspective.” SJ
“The singing accompanying the slides made both (drama and slides) more effective and very effective. You may have seen the tears streaming down my face. I was glad I was in the front row of singing so I could watch the slides at the same time. I enjoyed and thought your presentation was timely.”
“I’m so glad I got to be part of your wonderful presentation. I’m sure your book will do well. Ou must be very proud of it.” EM
“I am so proud of you. Your courageous Heart and your willingness to “get out there” and be seen and illuminate others in the process, is profound and so needed in our world. I am honored to be your friend.” JG
“I loved the author event. I was impressed with the high quality of your presentation.” DM
“Loved your unique presentation of your book, Laverne. So much more than just talking about it. I can’t wait to read it. Thank you.” MAJ
“Thank you for sharing your courage. I appreciated the acting/re-enacting of the story. I think the discussion is key as it allowed others to have a voice to share and feel part of the never-ending Civil Rights Movement.”
“Fear is the root of hatred-pain-intolerance. Pity the people who were turned out by their “tribe” to feel powerless and vulnerable. Not the way we of color were raised. ”DM
“Thank you for your riveting presentation. It was carefully prepared and clearly given. Very well done. I certainly appreciate your efforts and enthusiasm.” C. Weber
“Thank you for the presentation and for setting it in 1954. I grew up in Topeka.”
“Wonderful engaging presentation! I hope you are doing it at elementary schools. Thank you!” J.E. Sells
“Thanks for your great presentation! There is nothing like dramatization. Have you gone to the Berkeley schools? My old school, Malcolm X on Ashby would love to see/hear you.” B. Foster
“Powerful experience to watch you act out your experiences. Keep up the acting and presenting. Thanks for coming.”
“Thank you for sharing your personal experiences. I, a white child, have a very strong memory of my 1st time seeing black people. I was shocked and full of loud questions, which my grandparents shut down fast. We were driving in Waterbury, Conn. They closed the car windows and told me to be quiet. They gave me no explanation and I was in trouble. I think you and I must have that questioning child in common.”
“Very interesting. We have all learned much too gradually.”
“Appreciate your personal experience.”
“Thank you for sharing a painful experience.”
“Thank you for the presentation. I encourage you to continue and hope that each time someone will shift audience focus to present work to be done. I am a grandmother in a multi-racial family who sees a need for descendants of Europe to legitimize our presence on stolen land.”
Audience Comments from Previous Dramatic Book Presentations
***** at NAACP General Meeting- Monterey Chapter on 3/28/13
“Very enlightening and thank you for the presentation.” Judy P.
“You excite the pupils and are a role model” D.EL
“It was an excellent skit, I really enjoyed it. It really hit home because I am from Georgia State. I cannot wait to read your book once it gets published.” KH
“Thank you for your presentation. I can relate to everything you talked about. At eighty years of age and growing up in the South, I can relate to all forms of discrimination and segregation.” Helen R.
“Beautifully presented. An excellent portrait of a young girl’s experience of racism, as well as the challenges present for the child’s caregiver.” Ann
“Well done! If you add audio visual components, such as music, sound effects, video clips of photos or old news reels from the ‘50’s, I believe you would dramatically enhance the impact of your presentation. Computer graphics and an LCD.” Bill
“Thank you for your voice and writing about this. I grew up as a white girl in the 1950’s and was very sad and upset with segregation and the ugliness I saw.” D.
*****at TaleSpinner’s group presentation – Monterey Library 3/4/13
There was a lot of audience discussion after the presentation. This was mostly about the sorrow of the movement, who they were at the time, and how their parents viewed the era. The general tone was reflected in this comment:
“You presented your story very well, using different voices, different scarves or hats to differentiate characters. This was my time as well and I have memories of witnessing racism and being enraged at the humiliation I felt as a white person. Your story really underscored how difficult it is to understand racism, as it makes no logical sense. It seems to be horrible to hear the bus driver encourage the mother to keep her daughter down, but black people had to walk on eggs to avoid being beaten and killed so understandable.”
“I have to say that beyond the standing ovation of some of the audience, I was inflamed with joy and compassion from the various comments.” From the author, LaVerne McLeod
WRITING AND A TIME TO WRITE
Writing gives me a sense of completion and exhilaration particularly before the crack of dawn. Ideas come and flow to me during this sacred time. Since I have this author platform website, I have to look more carefully at my time, especially in learning the editing process to update the website. Then I focus my time elsewhere.
Since marketing is the way to get my work out to readers, I spend time doing this. It is part of my writing projects. I am truly overjoyed with creating proposals and presenting a chapter drama which makes me more firmly entrenched with my character’s feelings. Because my presentations require audience interaction, it keeps them awake and engaged. And believe it or not, I am strengthened knowing that my work has been a catalyst to letting go of past guilt and degradation.
During my four designated 5:00am writing mornings (as my body only tolerates getting up this early only a few times a week), I often get carried away with a particular piece. In that case, I continue with the flow. And sometimes when I just want to work five hours straight, an idea will come that I jot down and tend to sooner than later. Other than my 20 hours of writing project time a week, I do a variety of things as gardening, studio creativity, volunteer activity, a day with the grandkids, and of course an entire golf/town day.
My life is blessed with fullness. However, don’t think for a moment that I won’t drop it all for a week or so should family matters or “let’s get away for a few days” comes to the forefront. I am then refreshed and renewed to continue writing.”
Notes by LaVerne
Links of Interest
Other Comments or Questions