12/26/2010 - Young Named to African American History Calendar
Judson College Artist-in-Residence says second greatest accomplishment is being named a "Calendar Girl"
By Michael J. Brooks
Judson College artist-in-residence Dr. Billie Jean Young said being named a MacArthur Fellow in 1984 was her greatest honor, but becoming a "calendar girl" in 2011 is her second greatest!
Young was chosen for the inaugural edition of AT&T's "Alabama African American History Calendar" for the upcoming year. Her July 21 birthday made her the featured personality for July.
"This was a total surprise to me," Young said. "This isn't something I knew about or applied for. It just happened!"
Young said AT&T has published African-American history calendars for about 20 years in South Carolina and four years in Tennessee, but this is Alabama's first.
Featured personalities were either born in Alabama or made contributions to the state through their life and work. Young joins other notables in the calendar including Martin Luther King, Fred Shuttlesworth, Booker T. Washington, Joe Louis, Hank Aaron and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin.
AT&T partnered with the Alabama Department of Education to produce curriculum in conjunction with the calendar that can be used in the classroom. Find the curriculum HERE, along with biographies of honorees.
Young graduated from Judson in 1974 as part of the class that included two black graduates for the first time in the college's history, and she was the second African-American woman to earn a law degree from Samford University's Cumberland School of Law.
The college honored Young as an "Outstanding Alumna" in 2002 and named her artist-in-residence in January, 2006.
Young is perhaps best known for her one-woman play, "Fannie Lou Hamer: This Little Light," based on the life of the Mississippi civil rights activist. Her performances compelled the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus to award her the "Fannie Lou Hamer on the Road to Freedom Award."
Young published a book of poetry and her play, "Fear Not the Fall," in 2003 and "Now, How You Do? A Memoir" earlier this year.
Her stage credits include regional productions of August Wilson's "Fences" and "The Piano Lesson," and film credits include "Mississippi Burning" and the NBC movie, "Blue Bayou."
Additionally Young is founder and director of "The Drama Project/Child Abuse Project" which seeks to help women and young people recognize and respond to child abuse.
Currently Young teaches drama production at Judson and in four Perry County schools.
"I'm working with local elementary and high schools in what I call a 'drama immersion' process," Young said. "Students create their own drama and through improvisation they write drama. Sometimes young people find it hard to talk about how they feel, so drama gives them a vehicle for self-expression and problem-solving."
Young said she would spend her time during the holidays re-working her most recent play, "JimmyLee," based on the life of Jimmie Lee Jackson whose death in 1965 in Marion inspired the Selma-to-Montgomery march the same year.
"We produced this play at Francis Marion High School, and it's been well-received," she said. "I want to add 15 or 20 more minutes of dialogue, make this a full-length play and then publish it so others can perform it."
More information about Young is available at her website, www.billiejeanyoung.org.
Young Named to AT&T Alabama's First Edition, African American History Calendar
REPRINT, BIRMINGHAM, Ala.- AT&T Alabama announced on December 2 the inaugural unveiling of the AT&T Alabama African-American History calendar. The calendar is designed to assist students in learning more about the contributions of distinguished African-Americans who have connections to the state.
"The honorees in the first edition of the Alabama African-American History Calendar have all played a unique role in the history of our state, our country and our world," said Fred McCallum, President AT&T Alabama. "It is a privilege to honor them, but more importantly lift them up as shining examples to help educate our children."
"It has been a pleasure working with our partners to make this calendar a success," McCallum added. "We share a common vision of continuing to create opportunities for our children to learn about the rich tapestry of diversity that makes up this great state."
The calendar was created in cooperation with the Alabama Department of Education, which developed lesson plans and curriculum based on those honored in the calendar. The curriculum is being made available online to every school system in the state.
The 2011 calendar features individuals from the areas such as education, business, civil rights, public service, law, government, horticulture and civic and community leadership.
In addition to the Alabama Board of Education, Fox 6, Alabama Public Television, Alabama State University , the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Birmingham News are also collaborative partners who have contributed to the success of the calendar. The 2011 AT&T Alabama African-American Calendar
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
Dr. Billie Jean Young
Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth
Dr. Mae Jemison
Booker T. Washington
Dr. Regina Benjamin
Dr. Ethel H. Hall
George Washington Carver
The calendar is available at http://www.alafricanamerican.com/. That web site also includes additional information, as well as resources for educators and links to other materials related to Alabama 's African American history.
Billie Jean Young graduated from Judson in 1974 and received the Outstanding Alumna Award in 2002. She later earned her law degree from Samford University's Cumberland School of Law. She is the author of two collections of poetry: "Fear Not the Fall," an audiocassette, "My Name Is Black" and is perhaps best known for her one-woman play, "Fannie Lou Hamer: This Little Light."
Young was recognized as a creative writer and received a MacArthur Fellows Award in 1995. She has been artist-in-residence at Judson College for several years.
*Article courtesy of the Judson College Public Relations Department.