BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Students from a Birmingham Southern College business class traveled to New York City as a part of a class project on social impact.
Led by their instructor Rick Alan Lester, they got connected to a Birmingham Southern College alum who went from Birmingham to Broadway and works tirelessly to give back. He’s a Birmingham native by the name of Erich McMillan McCall.
“It was an opportunity for my students and me to see one of our own Hilltop panthers making a difference,” said Dr. Lester.
The class project was about meeting with organizations and companies to find out more about the social impact programs. McCall is part of a program called Project 1 Voice.
“The power of one voice can make a difference in this world that’s why the name of this project is called Project 1 voice.” described McCall.
McCall exposed the Birmingham Southern College students to a Broadway play called “Trouble in Mind.” It was written by Alice Childress 66 years ago. The play would have been the first Broadway play by an African American female but Childress refused to change the script to make it more appealing to a broader audience.
“I think what they will take back to Birmingham the knowledge of a playwright like Alice Childress in the 1950’s was so bold to speak against the injustices of this country,” said McCall.
McCall is working to bring attention to seven plays on Broadway, written, directed and starring people of color. Trouble in Mind is one of them.
“You don’t get to the see beauty and humanity of people of color until you walk into these theaters and you see plays like Skeleton crew, which we are doing now me and Brandon, trouble in mind, Lackawanna Blues, festival, all of these plays you get to see a different part of us which is our humanity,” said Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the director of the Broadway play Skeleton Crew.
McCall’s Project 1 Voice also works with a reading program at Birmingham’s Oxmoor Valley Elementary. For seven weeks, actors on Broadway are reading to the students on the school’s Facebook Live page from the seven plays: Pass Over, Lackawanna Blues, Chicken & Biscuits, Thoughts Of A Colored Man, Trouble in Mind, Clydes and Skeleton Crew.
Professor Lester says Trouble in Mind had a profound impact on the students and will aid in their class project.
“I think we saw in the play today is the importance of being natural, being honest, having integrity, and we do know that you have left a footprint on society,” he said.