BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
Bethune-Cookman University presented Mary’s Gift: An Evening of Inspiration Through the Arts on March 1 starring the reverberating, laughter-filled singing voice of Daytona Beach resident Harry L. Burney III. The program began with a short film of the fictitious lawyer of the late Dr. Mary Mcleod Bethune sharing her life in Daytona Beach.
Three live theatrical acts followed the film, including “Mary’s Gift of Inspiration,” featuring the reoccurring singing role of T. Renee Crutcher as Bethune with students from Turie T. Small Elementary School as Mary’s kids – the famed five little girls who made up her Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls created in 1904, in tow. The Orchesis Dance Ensemble and B-CU Tuba Euphonium Ensemble also performed.
“Who is Mary?” Six year-old G’Lia Foster was overheard asking the question of her grandmother Brenda Perry. Perry explained to G’Lia and her sister, 5-year-old Joyelle, that Mary was an educator who built her school “right here, a long time ago.”
Following Act II: Mary’s Gift of Education, a special presentation from Dr. Alma Dixon was made: The 2015 Community Engagement Awards.
Among the recipients were the Daytona Times. Also receiving the award was the Volusia County/Daytona Beach NAACP, the Daytona Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Food Brings Hope, a charity providing solutions to homelessness, poverty or unfamiliarity with community resources.
The last act of the evening, Act III: Mary’s Gift of Transformation brought B-CU President Dr. Edison O. Jackson to the stage.
Jackson hinted to a proposed transformation of the immediate area surrounding the school to include Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard via a partnership with the City of Daytona Beach. More information on the revitalization of the boulevard businesses will be forthcoming as talks continue.