On Monday, January 16th, 2012, I attended the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Community Celebration presented by Justiceworks in Stevens Point, WI. At first, I did not know what to expect. I guess I expected the usual presentation of a person who made a difference trying to inspire us to be better people. But what I saw was so much more than that.
The Monteverdi Master Chorale started the program by singing the National Anthem. Then with everyone still standing they performed a song called “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is the Negro National Anthem. After this very moving song they presented Patti Cahill with the John Klismet Justiceworks Award. Patti has been an active member in PRISM, a jail ministry organization, and Justiceworks, a non-profit community justice organization, in Stevens Point since 2004. Because of her efforts Stevens Point is one of only two places in Wisconsin that provide drug and alcohol free residential living for both men and women. To my surprise I discovered that my neighbor Arlene Mucha received this award in 2007. This made me realize that more people are making a difference than I know.
The main event of the evening was a performance by Professor Patrick Simms. Patrick is the Director of the Theatre for Cultural and Social Awareness and Associate Professor of Acting in the Department of Theatre and Drama at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When Patrick arrived onstage he was emanating confidence. He began talking about a man named James Cameron who was a civil rights leader. James Cameron, as a young man, was the only person in American history to survive lynching. I have never heard of James Cameron before this and he survived a hanging. This baffled me but when Mr. Simms said he was twenty-two before he heard of James this made me feel better about my arrogance.
And so the show began. Patrick Sims was to perform for us and excerpt from his drama 10 Perfect: A Lynching Survivor’s Story. Patrick put on the most interesting one-man performance I have ever seen. He spoke so clearly. I can only imagine how difficult this must have been and how much he practiced. He played many characters and all with a different voice; even a female character which was quite comical. There were so many emotions that he displayed making you feel these emotions as well. This made me feel very in sync with the story. Without gestures and his movements nothing would have been as affective as it was. He made it a very successful performance while conveying a very important message. There was a big audience and I know I would have been scared to death. If he was nervous, he did not display it at all.
Communication skills are applied to everyday life. I never realized this before. All of the skills I have learned from my Comm 101 class, Prof. Patrick Simms displayed amazingly. I saw a unexpectingly profound performance from Patrick that I would see again and again.