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Motlow State Community College
P.O. Box 8500
Lynchburg, TN 37352-8500
(931) 393-1500

Dr. Tonea Stewart, Actress & Educator, Appeared at Motlow

February 22, 2012

Dr. Tonea "Tommie" Stewart recently visited the Motlow College main campus in Moore County for an array of performances in recognition of Black History Month. The multi-talented professor performs and teaches from a background that includes over 40 years in the acting profession and the education field.

She is the Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Ala. and has earned several educational recognitions in her career including being the first African-American female to receive a doctorate from Florida State University's School of Theater in 1989. Her acting credits include major roles in television and movies including: "In the Heat of the Night", "A Time to Kill", "Mississippi Burning" and "The Rosa Parks Story".

While at Motlow, Dr. Stewart served as a guest professor for theater, speech and sociology classes and conducted faculty and staff enrichment sessions. She presented her message to students and Motlow personnel in Powers Auditorium of Eoff Hall during a morning session and concluded her visit at the College with an evening performance for the public.

Dr. Stewart opened and closed her performances with a song and stressed the importance of teaching our children and grandchildren lessons of the past so they are not repeated in the future. To teach a lesson of black history, she used her acting talents to provide a deep insight into what is was like to be raised as an African American in the Mississippi Delta region before, during and after the civil rights movement.

Heart-wrenching stories, told through tears, described how she felt dirty as a child after witnessing her big, strong daddy being scolded in public for taking a drink from a water fountain. She acted out how she had to 'size-up' a pair of shoes or piece of clothing because black shoppers were not allowed to try anything on. The auditorium was silent as the audience felt they were hiding under the bed with her- while a cross was burned in her yard.

Despite the pain depicted in her personal reflections, Stewart managed to lift everyone's spirit as she closed with a message of love and forgiveness. She shared her life story and a bit of advice, "Use the pain from your past, not as a stumbling block, but as a stepping stone to the future."

Visit the College website for additional information about Motlow and other speakers hosted by the college during Black History Month.