When I served as the Director of Education at the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, it was Terence Spivey, fresh on the job, who reached out to us to create and support a collaborative experience for a play about the ravages and silences of AIDS in the Black community. Prior to this moment with Spivey, ATGC had worked with nearly every local theater in some capacity BUT Karamu. It was because of Spivey's vision and willingness to step outside of the box that the area Black community benefited not just from a robust and necessary theater experience, but also a rich conversation about a disease plaguing its local community. They also received easier linkages to the services and testing that could help keep them safe. Spivey had the vision and foresight to see that theater could be more than theater, theater could be a vehicle to educate and make change in real people's lives. I'm sure Ashe is a fine E.D. of inner city youth service-based organizations, but what has been clear for all of us on the outside for some time, is that the leader of an arts organization is an ill-fit for this talented gentleman (trust, anyone who can keep an organization in the black during these times is a talented administrator--he just may not be a people person). Anyone serving as the head of Karamu HAS TO have a healthy respect not just for the essential programs that help keep the lights on, but also for what lies in front of the floodlights that keep the rest of our community going, that makes life something more. Anything less from the leadership of an arts organization, a nearly 100-year legend, is an affront to everything its founders and subsequent stakeholders intended for it to be.
-- L. Michael Gipson
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