EPILOGUE
Theatre, Black Women, and Change
Othe
n a cool and overcast spring evening, some one hundred years after
Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins was ousted from her editorial position at
Colored American Magazine in 1904, a new wave of black female
artists elegantly stormed the barricades of theatre culture.∞ June 6, 2004,
marked history in the making as three prizes in major acting categories for
women were handed to black actresses at Broadway’s Tony Awards. Within the
first hour of the program, the youthful Anika Noni Rose had swooped onstage
to take the evening’s first statuette for her vaunting Broadway debut as the
rebellious Emmie Thibodeaux in the musical Caroline, or Change. Tearfully,
Rose accepted the award and expressed her thanks for her ‘‘gift of voice’’ and
the love and support of cast and family. Soon after, luminous theatre darling
Audra McDonald received her fourth Tony at the age of thirty-three for her
cerebral portrayal of Ruth Younger in the smash-hit revival of Lorraine Hans-
berry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun. ‘‘Broadway,’’ McDonald rightly acknowl-
edged in her speech, ‘‘has been so kind to me.’’ She closed her remarks by
emphatically reminding the audience that her award ‘‘belongs to Lorraine
Hansberry,’’ the ‘‘brilliant,’’ ‘‘prescient,’’ and ‘‘legendary’’ playwright.≤
Finally Phylicia Rashad broke barriers as the first African American actress
to win a Tony for a lead role in a play. As the matriarch Lena Younger in the
revival of Hansberry’s drama, Rashad brought a renewed and textured wis-
dom, grace, and wit to the classic role. With a hushed eloquence, the veteran
actress confessed:
I wondered, what does it take for this to happen? And now I know it takes
e√ort and grace . . . tremendous self e√ort and amazing grace. And in my
life that grace has taken numerous forms. The first was the family into
which I was born. Parents who loved and wanted me. And a mother who
fought fearlessly, courageously, consistently so that her children above
EPILOGUE
Theatre, Black Women, and Change
O
n a cool and overcast spring evening, some one hundred years after
Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins was ousted from her editorial position at
the Colored American Magazine in 1904, a new wave of black female
artists elegantly stormed the barricades of theatre culture.

June 6, 2004,
marked history in the making as three prizes in major acting categories for
women were handed to black actresses at Broadway’s Tony Awards. Within the
first hour of the program, the youthful Anika Noni Rose had swooped onstage
to take the evening’s first statuette for her vaunting Broadway debut as the
rebellious Emmie Thibodeaux in the musical Caroline, or Change . Tearfully,
Rose accepted the award and expressed her thanks for her ‘‘gift of voice’’ and
the love and support of cast and family. Soon after, luminous theatre darling
Audra McDonald received her fourth Tony at the age of thirty-three for her
cerebral portrayal of Ruth Younger in the smash-hit revival of Lorraine Hans-
berry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun . ‘‘Broadway,’’ McDonald rightly acknowl-
edged in her speech, ‘‘has been so kind to me.’’ She closed her remarks by
emphatically reminding the audience that her award ‘‘ belongs to Lorraine
Hansberry,’’ the ‘‘brilliant,’’ ‘‘prescient,’’ and ‘‘legendary’’ playwright.

Finally Phylicia Rashad broke barriers as the first African American actress
to win a Tony for a lead role in a play. As the matriarch Lena Younger in the
revival of Hansberry’s drama, Rashad brought a renewed and textured wis-
dom, grace, and wit to the classic role. With a hushed eloquence, the veteran
actress confessed:
I wondered, what does it take for this to happen? And now I know it takes
e√ort and grace . . . tremendous self e√ort and amazing grace. And in my
life that grace has taken numerous forms. The first was the family into
which I was born. Parents who loved and wanted me. And a mother who
fought fearlessly, courageously, consistently so that her children above
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