Student play heralds Black History Month

Members of Haraya, the Pan-African Students Coalition, brought Lorainne Hansberry’s award-winning play, A Raisin in the Sun, to life at St. John’s over the weekend.

The event, a part of this year’s Black History Month celebration at the University, was the first play organized by the group in its history.

The theatrical production, the first play written by an African-American woman to be performed on Broadway, tells the story of the Youngers, an African-American family struggling in Chicago during the 1950s.

“A Raisin in the Sun shows black feminism, the beginning of civil rights and the coming of manhood,” said Nashia Whittenburg, assistant director of Multicultural Affairs.

“The importance of this production goes beyond the cast of characters, beyond the Haraya executive board, but rather it seeps into the core of the Pan-African students and alumni, the core and totality that is St. John’s University.”

The cast put the production together in less than a month and often had to stay past 1 a.m. for rehearsals.

“I just think Haraya is taking it to the next level,” said Ricardy Fabre, Haraya’s treasurer. “It is capable and doing so much on this campus, not just for the African-American community, but for the campus as a whole. It [the play] is a platform to do so many things.”

Fabre said the idea to put on the play spoke about how he and Candace Pickering, vice president of activities for Haraya, came up with the idea for the organization to put on a play at St. John’s.

“We were in the UC one day, and we were both saying let’s put on a play,” he said.

“We loved the idea, so we took it to the rest of the executive board, and Nashia Whittenburg, and we took the steps to make it happen.”

The cast of A Raisin in the Sun included: Candace Pearl Pickering, Corrinne Lauren Bynoe, Seth Alexander Johnson, Ricardy Fabre, Autumn McDonald, Jaleesa Cooke, Justin Phillips, Aaron A. Poon, Lamar Perry and Ysmael Reyes.