Directors of The Contradictions of Fair Hope Documentary to Show Film at Cheyney University and Talk to Audience

October 3, 2013

The Contradictions of Fair Hope documentary narrated by actress Whoopi Goldberg will be shown on Saturday, October 26, at the Marian Anderson Music Center at Cheyney University at 6:00 p.m. The film was directed by S. Epatha Merkerson who played Lt. Anita Van Buren in NBC's Law and Order for over 15 years, and attorney Rockell Metcalf.  At the conclusion of the screening, directors Merkerson and Metcalf will speak to the audience and provide additional insight into this powerful drama. 

The film turns the camera on modern-day Hale County, Alabama as it traces the story of Metcalf’s family involvement with the Fair Hope Benevolent Society, an organization that originally helped former slaves bury their dead, and aided the sick of transitional families in the late 19th century.  The Contradictions of Fair Hope is Mr. Metcalf's first feature film project. Set prior to Emancipation, the documentary traces the development, struggles, contributions and gradual loss of tradition of one of the last remaining African American benevolent societies.

Through gripping human stories of some of the last surviving society members and interviews with historians and local residents, the film provides an unprecedented look at the complex and morally ambiguous world of Fair Hope juxtaposed against the worldly pleasures of what has become known as the annual “Foot Wash” celebration.  Tickets are available at  

More information can be found on 

The program is presented through the The Arts and Lectures Series. Other offerings this season include:

  • Layon Gray’s Black Angels Over Tuskegee – Monday, November 18, Marian Anderson, 7:30 p.m. 

Black Angels over Tuskegee is a play told in narrative of six men embarking on a journey to become pilots in the United States Army Air Forces.  The play explores their collective struggle with Jim Crow challenging their intellect, patriotism, brotherhood, and dreams of an inclusive and fair society.  The play goes beyond the headlines of popular stories and reveals the heart and soul of the Tuskegee Airmen who exhibited the courage to excel, in spite of all the overwhelming odds against them. Tickets are available at

  • Leslie McGurdy - The Spirit of Harriet Tubman - Wednesday, February 19, Marian Anderson, 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 

Born into slavery in Maryland, Harriet Tubman not only ran away alone to escape slavery, she returned to the south 19 times to lead over 300 other slaves to freedom in the northern United States and Canada.  Unable to rest as long as there are those who need guidance, The Spirit of Harriet Tubman, returns time and again sharing her life story and the things she learned along the way.  Leslie McCurdy captivates her audience in this dramatic work with only a trunk of costumes and a barren stage as her landscape. Tickets are available  at

  • KUN-YANG LIN/DANCERS - Thursday, March 27, Marian Anderson, 7:30 p.m. 

Taiwan-born Kun-Yang Lin probes at the limits of national identity, drawing upon Eastern philosophy while expanding the perimeter of Western contemporary dance.  KUN-YANG LIN/DANCERS (KYL/D) is one of the country's foremost contemporary Asian-American dance companies.  Described as "deeply spiritual, remarkable" (Dance Magazine), the company celebrates the ability of dance to integrate body, mind, and spirit, inviting viewers to engage in their own journeys of self-discovery.  Tickets are available at 

  • JAZZ AT THE MARIAN featuring Stephanie Jordan - Thursday, April 4, Marian Anderson, 7:30 p.m. 

Stephanie Jordan, described as a premiere jazz artist, has appeared live on NPR Talk of the Nation, at the Kennedy Center, in Central Park, at Marians Jazzroom in Bern, Switzerland, the Duke Ellington Festival, and the Marciac Jazz Festival in France.  One reviewer wrote, "every so often a new voice stands up and proclaims itself, but few do so with such supreme depth and understated soul."  Jordan is the fifth performer to emerge from a family of New Orleans bred musicians.  Tickets are available at 

The series began on September 7 with the opening of the Synthia SAINT JAMES Exhibit in the Biddle Hall Art Gallery.  Works from the world-renowned multicultural visual artist, author and illustrator of over 23 books are on display in Biddle Hall Art Gallery through October 18.  

“The Arts and Lectures Series is a part of the Academic Quality and Excellence activity which is funded by a grant Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Title III),” notes activity director Dr. Sebronette Barnes-Aborom, a professor in the Department of Fine Arts, Design and Liberal Studies.   “Because of this support, we can continue to expose students to artists of the caliber of SAINT JAMES, along with a diverse roster of speakers and other visual and performing artists for the purpose of cultural enrichment.  

Tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for youth and non-Cheyney students and are available at   Admission for all events is free for Cheyney students, faculty and staff with ID.   Tickets may also be purchased at the box office one hour before each program.   Refunds and exchanges are not permitted.  Doors open 30 minutes prior to the start time and parking is free.  For more information, call 610-399-2365.  

Please Note:  All programs are subject to change or cancellation.