CMC hosts Black History Tour Live events at Spring Valley, Rifle | PostIndependent.com

CMC hosts Black History Tour Live events at Spring Valley, Rifle

Actor and scholar Becky Stone will portray Maya Angelou Tuesday at CMC Spring Valley and Wednesday at CMC Rifle Campus, as part of Black History Month.
Colorado Humanities

IF YOU GO…

What: Colorado Humanities’ Black History Live tour

Where: Colorado Mountain College, Spring Valley and Rifle

When: 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, New Space Theatre, Spring Valley; and Wednesday, Feb. 27, Clough Auditorium, Rifle Campus

Cost: Free

It’s one thing to read a biography or watch a movie about historical figures, but to be able to be in the same room, interacting and asking questions is a whole different experience.

Colorado Mountain College and Colorado Humanities’ will bring actor and scholar Becky Stone, who will portray poet, singer, memoirist and civil rights activist Maya Angelou Tuesday, Feb. 26, at CMC Spring Valley and Wednesday, Feb. 27, at CMC Rifle Branch, as part of Black History Live tour.

Angelou published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and many plays, movies and television shows in a celebrated career that spanned over five decades.

Her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” brought her international recognition and acclaim, hailing her as a new kind of memoirist.

Angelou was one of the first African-American women to publicly discuss her personal life.

A well-respected spokesperson for black people and women, her work has been considered a defense of black culture and is taught in schools and universities worldwide.

“She was brilliant, and passionate, and would jump into things with both feet,” Stone said. “She was a woman who had great love of humanity and who we are as human beings. I think people connect with that.”

Stone aims to bring Angelou, who died in 2014, to life in a living history portrayal, giving insight into how she wrote, and why, and reflect on her philosophy of life, which included a strong belief in the power of words.

A resident of Asheville, North Carolina, Stone is an active storyteller who began portraying significant figures from history in 2003 as part of a Chautauqua Festival in nearby Greenville, South Carolina.

“I did not find chautauqua; chautauqua found me,” Stone said.

She says it’s pretty overwhelming portraying someone of Angelou’s stature, spending a year doing research on Angelou and reading her books.

“It is a long process,” Stone added.

“My presentation is interesting and compelling. I try to tell stories from her life that are significant in terms of her self-image and her relationship with writing and words,” she said.

Next Tuesday’s presentation will be held at 4 p.m. in the New Space Theatre at the CMC-Spring Valley campus. An encore performance will take place at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Clough Auditorium at CMC-Rifle.

A unique aspect of the presentation, Stone said, is that people have a chance to ask questions of her in the character of Angelou.

“It’s amazing, the type of dialogue that happens,” she said.

She said it is a chance to not only hear a bit of history, but to interact with it and discuss it.

This will be Stone’s third visit to the Roaring Fork Valley.

She has portrayed Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman on the Western Slope in previous years as part of Colorado Humanities’ Black History Live tour.

Stone, who is doing 17 presentations across Colorado, is looking forward to visiting Glenwood Springs again.

“People have a hunger for the history, and for being able to talk about it and being able to respond,” she added.

kmills@postindependent.com