Storytellers tonight share personal tales of racial awareness and confronting racism


By Cory de Vera • NEWS-LEADER • January 15, 2011

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 Martin Luther King Day is Monday, but if you are looking to get in the spirit tonight, think about going to Q Enoteca on Commercial Street.


Saturday night is the second night this month that the business is presenting “So There I Was … Story Telling Series” featuring area residents telling personal stories touching on racism, racial awareness, and diversity.

Friday night’s performances were gut-wrenching, sad, enlightening, and funny, too.


The storytelling series started in September by Skinny Improv actors Jeff Houghton and Sarah Jenkins. Houghton is the host of The Mystery Hour, a live talk interview show. He said his favorite part of the show has always been the personal stories people tell.


Jenkins and Houghton then discovered a podcast called “The Moth,” which features live storytelling events that take place in New York, and decided to start a series in Springfield. The events take place once each month, but January was the first time they decided to adopt a theme, recognizing Martin Luther King Day.


“Storytelling is a way people connect to each other,” said Jenkins. While our grandparent’s generation would naturally tell stories, life today is busier and different, and the art is becoming lost. The series, she said, is an attempt to revive the tradition.


Storytellers at the Friday event were:


• Mary Norman, a graduate assistant at Missouri State who spoke of her father’s experiences in a Japanese interment camp during World War II.


• Business owner Lyle Foster, who spoke of his friendship with Ricky Byrdsong, a coach who was murdered by a white supremacist who went on a shooting spree near Skokie, Illinois.


• Leslie Anderson, who spoke of growing up in an upper-middle class white family in Oklahoma.


• Wes Pratt, who spoke of civil rights demonstrations in Springfield when he was a college student, and his mother’s memorable ways of letting him participate although she worried about him.


Houghton said tonight’s event will likely feature the same speakers telling the same stories, but, as a live event, there may be some variation.


Q Enoteca is at 308 W. Commercial St. The event begins at 9 p.m. 


About jeffhoughton

I'm a sometimes writer, actor, comedian and an all the time adventurer.

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