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Wilson-Evans to be honored at USCL event

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By Jesef Williams

Slave stories of bondage, struggle and dreams of freedom will jump out of the history books and onto the stage as a local Black History Month celebration gets under way.

Kitty Wilson-Evans, a local slave interpreter and storyteller, will be honored during a special event Sunday at the Carole Ray Dowling Center at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.

The event begins with a reception at 3 p.m.

Paintings of Wilson-Evans playing the slave woman Kessie will be on display.

Kaye Cloniger created 13 paintings of Wilson-Evans in costume at Historic Brattonsville, where Wilson-Evans has done volunteer work for years as an interpreter and storyteller. Wilson-Evans has garnered acclaim for her portrayal of the slave woman Kessie.

On Sunday, she’ll perform a skit called “The Crossing,” playing Kessie.

The skit is a dramatic monologue that taps into

Kessie’s faith in God and the belief that, despite conditions, she will gain freedom and be united with her family one day.

“No more beatings. No more being sold,” Wilson-Evans says, speaking from the perspective of Kessie.

Wilson-Evans said she’s gotten a lot of requests to perform “The Crossing” at various events. Her main aim through these skits is to educate children about the past.

“We’ve got to understand what our ancestors went through,” Wilson-Evans said. “This is to keep history alive. Our young people need to know this.”

Dr. John Catalano, dean of USCL; Dr. Bertha Maxwell-Roddey, professor of African-American history at USCL; Lancaster County Council Chairman Fred Thomas; and artist Kaye  Cloniger are each slated to give remarks.

After Wilson-Evans’ performance, there will be a reception in which Wilson-Evans will sign her book, “Kessie Tales,” which tells stories of slave life from Kessie’s perspective. The book will be on sale for $14.99.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152