The Story: African Americans who made a difference

By Alexus Monds
Staff Writer
The Hillside Chronicle
Hillside High School

Editor’s Note: This story appeared originally in The Hillside Chronicle, the school newspaper of Hillside High School, which is led by journalism teacher Elizabeth DeOrnellas. The Durham VOICE is proud to serve as a mentoring partner to The Hillside Chronicle.


This year Hillside High School celebrated Black History Month by presenting the play The Story. It was presented the weekend of Feb. 3-5 in the Hillside auditorium.

Hillside student Emmanuel Tabb developed the original conception.

Photo Caption: The cast of The Story performs at Hillside. (Photo courtesy of The Hillside Chronicle)

“The original concept of the play was derived from the book African Americans Who Made a Difference,” Director Wendell Tabb said.

Hillside students and cast members Stephan Patterson, Symone Crews and Sylvia Jones contributed to the script development.

“I’m in Leadership, so I got the responsibility of writing the play through that,” Jones said.

Her favorite part about working on the play was “the whole researching part and working with friends while doing it,” Jones said.

Tabb believes students got even more out of the production.

“They got a chance to really understand and become more knowledgeable about African American heroes that they maybe did not know,” Tabb said.

The play was written as a frame story. Two teenage girls were trapped in an African American History Museum overnight, and the statues came to life in their time there.

With each statue there was a monologue, short script, mini concert or talk show.

The statues were African Americans who’ve made a difference in our history such as Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King Jr., Shirley Caesar, Ernie Barnes, Condoleezza Rice, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michele Obama and many more.

This play “brings a little of each individual that made an impact on this country,” Ruth Morgan, mother of former Hillside cast member Victoria Morgan, said.

The audience enjoyed singing along with the mini concerts by cast who played famous African America artists such as the touring gospel group Caravans, Shirley Caesar, Luther Vandross and others.

“I loved the musical tributes because I could relate to it,” said Deinse Rogers, mother of cast member Tarryn Nunn. “I remember listening to them while growing up.”

Toward the end of the play there was an interactive talk show by “Oprah Winfrey” and guest “Michelle Obama” was enjoyed by the entire audience.

This was a very educational and inspiring play. I think that the cast members played their parts well and were serious when they needed to be, but they also succeeded in getting audience reaction.