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Operation Be Proud play to focus on racial tolerance

Operation Be Proud has set out to prove that art is mightier than the sword.

Monday, January 07, 2002

Operation Be Proud has set out to prove that art is mightier than the sword.

In light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the United States and the increased tension and racial violence against Muslims and people of Middle-Eastern decent – such as the defacing of mosques and attacks against Middle-Easterners – the organization is taking the message of peace to the stage and relying on art to pierce the veil of violence.

The group’s play, "E Pluribus Unum…Out of Many ONE," is described as a celebration of the lives of the men, women, and children from 80 countries and cultural backgrounds who died on that day. The play will raise – and attack – a few controversial issues faced in America, such as racism, sexism, first amendment rights, and religious freedom.

The play will explore these topics using a cast of five characters, played by Ironton High School students Andrew Cronacher, Katie Huff, Gregg Hill, Katie Scherer and Randy Blair. In the play, the characters from various backgrounds will interact with one another through life.

"By being a part of the Operation Be Proud’s presentation, I have had the opportunity to learn about how cruel people can sometimes be to those who are not the same as them in race, religious belief, or culture," Scherer, an IHS senior who plays a very judgmental working mother, said. "It has definitely taught me to have a more open mind to others with different beliefs than my own."

Belinda Brown of Operation Be Proud said it is time everyone became aware of these issues.

"We feel as though these issues need to be brought to the forefront and people need to be educated, not only in this community but all over," she said. "I just don’t think we can be a stronger community without addressing this. That’s why we’re so impressed with these students – they were not afraid to step into these controversial roles."

The main goals, according to the organization, is to acknowledge the issues by bringing them to the forefront of conversation and to challenge people to confront these stereotypes, prejudices and myths.

The presentation is part of the Operation Be Proud’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, held at Ohio University Southern Campus. Robert Pleasant, OBP’s director, said the play would in part, be harmonious with King’s message of peace and hope.

"Often times we forget that Dr. King was a man of God and believed in the power of prayer and spirituality." Pleasant said. "We hope to strengthen Dr. King’s message of peace and love for all of mankind." This year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration will be held on Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. in the OUSC Bowman Auditorium, following a candlelight memorial at the OUSC flagpole in remembrance of the families and victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ironton Tribune photographer Howie McCormick contributed to this article.