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An evening fit for a king: NFT's 40th anniversary

LINDA ARMSTRONG Special to the AmNews | 5/27/2011, 3:16 p.m.
An evening fit for a king: NFT's 40th anniversary

Actor and playwright Ted Lange had the audience in tears of laughter as he read an enormous list of all of the things King has had to endure all these years. His was an in- teractive speech-the audience had to respond "Woodie King Jr." to each of his statements, like, "When they said Ted Lange couldn't do drama, who gave me a chance?-Woodie King Jr."

Cliff Frazier, chairman of NFT's board of directors, pre- sented an award to the Rev. Malcolm Boyd, who sent a video acceptance. Boyd was deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement and wrote a series of short plays that dealt with racial themes. NFT produced the plays, which he also acted in alongside King. This presentation was fol- lowed by remarks from Robert Townsend about NFT.

Writer and director Spike Lee presented an award to Imhotep Gary Byrd, the creator, executive producer and host of the GBE, the longest-running Black radio broadcast in New York City. Byrd is also a spoken word recording artist, songwriter and motivational speaker.

Actor, producer, writer and humanitarian Carla Pinza was also among the honorees for the evening.

Actress Starletta Du Pois talked about NFT. Publisher Susan Taylor presented an award to agent to the stars and author Terrie Williams. Actor Lamman Rucker spoke about the importance of NFT.

Oz Scott presented an award to Ntozake Shange, playwright of "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf." Terria Joseph presented an award to Alicia Keys, singer, best selling author, entrepreneur and a champion in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

Then King himself spoke and the audience was captivated.

When I think of King and the way he has affected the lives of Black theatrical professionals, I think of the gospel song that says, "If I can help someone along the way, then my living has not been in vain."

Those words so richly apply to King. He has touched the lives of so many people and has changed them forever, as was evident at the Edison Ballroom, which was packed to capacity on both the main floor and mezzanine levels.

To get involved with NFT, go to www.newfederaltheatre.org.