On Friday, March 23 at 8 p.m. a chamber music theater work titled “Ain’t I A Woman” by The Core Ensemble will be performed in the concert hall of the Fine Arts Center.

The music and acting explores the struggles and successes of four strong African American women, who “Ain’t I A Woman” is designed to celebrate. These four women are, Zora Neale Hurston, novelist and anthropologist, Sojourner Truth, abolitionist, Clementine Hunter, exuberant folk artist, and Fannie Lou Hamer, a fervent civil rights worker.

“Ain’t I A Woman” will be featuring actress Shayla Simmons, cellist Ju Young Lee, pianist Mikael Darmanie and percussionist Michael Parola.

“There are elements of African American history, women’s history, civil rights, social justice included in the performance,” said Mark Conley, department chair and professor of music. “From the music point of view it’s another example of the role of the arts in the promotion of social justice.”

This performance is being brought to campus to introduce students to these elements and give appreciation to the these elements. The event also ties in with February being African American History month and March being Women’s History month.

The performance will be approximately one hour and 20 minutes, without intermission, and will be broken down into three parts. The first part will be recognizing Zora Neale Hurston. Part two will recognize Clementine Hunter. The third part will recognize Fannie Lou Hamer and Sojourner Truth.

The title, “Ain’t I A Woman” is in reference to a speech Sojourner Truth gave at a women’s conference directed towards white women, saying that her experience as a woman is genuine. It was a speech of validation. Truth repeated the phrase, “Ain’t I A Woman” multiple times throughout her speech and the phrase is now being used as the title of this chamber music theater work.  

For this performance, along with other future performances, Conley wants every member of the student body to feel welcomed to the Fine Arts Center, even if they have never been there before. Especially for this performance because it’s covering important moments of history today.

“I hope that even if a student has never come to concert or a show in their time at URI that they might make this one the one to see because it’s going to be different from anything we’ve presented before,” said Conley.

The University of Rhode Island’s music department along with the Provost office, the Gender and Sexuality center, the Women’s Center, the center for Nonviolence and Peace studies, the department of Gender and Women studies and the Department of Africana Studies are sponsoring this event.

“Ain’t I A Woman” is open to the URI community and the general public. Tickets are $7 for students and seniors citizens and $12 for the general public.  

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Kayla Michaud
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