Jeffers, Gaye; Lightfoot, Stacy
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
The foundation of my thesis was laid in May of 2022 when I had the privilege of taking part in a transformative journey to Kenya through the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Honors College. During this remarkable experience, we immersed ourselves in the lives of the Kenyan people in Nairobi and the Maasai Mara, looking to unravel the interplay between innovation, empathy, and culture. As an African American, I experienced a profound sense of belonging in a majority Black environment for the first time in my life, which left an indelible impression on me, offering a sense of relief and connection. Those three weeks in Kenya remain among the most cherished memories of my life. However, during the third week, a life-changing event occurred as I contracted Covid and found myself confined to an isolated tent. In the solitude of that moment, I contemplated how this experience could serve as the foundation for a compelling script, but more importantly, a poignant thesis. It struck me that the contrast between my experiences as a Black individual in a predominantly Black space versus my experiences as a minority in predominantly white settings was a vital aspect worth exploring. This contemplation gave birth to the concept of a thesis: The Black Caucus, which revolves around the central question of how Black individuals find and shape their identities in predominantly white spaces. Upon my return to the United States, I engaged in discussions with my thesis instructor, solidifying the idea of a performance as the focal point of my thesis. Given my initial interest in playwriting, I saw this as a remarkable opportunity to put my writing skills to the test. I resolved to conduct interviews with Black students, faculty, and alumni of my institution, which happens to be predominantly white, to glean insights into their experiences. By skillfully transcribing their words into a script, I sought to craft a powerful production set to debut during the spring semester of my thesis year. Through this project, I aspired to shed light on the nuanced and complex realities faced by Black individuals in predominantly white educational spaces, fostering empathy, understanding, and meaningful dialogue on this crucial subject matter.
Anne Swedberg, Gaye Jeffers, and Stacy Lightfoot for being the best Commitee Team ever!
B. A.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
African Americans in the performing arts; Experimental theater; Playwriting
Owens, Isaiah, "The Black caucus: a theatrical exploration of the Black experience in a predominantly White institution" (2023). Honors Theses.