Wednesday, November 8, 2023 at 7pm
Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: A Walk to Respect
In 2020, as part of The Patterson Foundation’s Honoring and Onward initiative, in partnership with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, The Patterson Foundation announced a staged reading of a new one-act play, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: A Walk to Respect — written by award-winning playwright Beth Duda, with original spoken word poetry by Cedric Hameed.
In 2023, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: A Walk to Respect went on the road. Two shows were held at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., welcoming hundreds of attendees.
This was a moving production where Frederick Douglass, the black abolitionist leader and former slave, and Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America, clashed in their ideologies regarding race, politics, and slavery. Frederick Douglass, a true radical with a fiery spirit, believed in racial equality for everyone. Douglass dedicated his life, writings, and career to abolishing slavery everywhere. Abraham Lincoln, cautious and considered, while opposed to slavery, was first and foremost a patriot intent on preserving the Union at all costs. These two self-made men, at a time when our divided nation faced annihilation, faced their differences with courage and compassion, forging a friendship that helped to end the Civil War and reunite our nation. Through their own words, we explore the walk of these two great American leaders from conflict to understanding.
Abraham Lincoln will be portrayed by Jeffrey Atherton. Jeffrey Atherton holds a bachelor's degree in music and theatre from Florida State University and a master's in computer education from Nova Southeastern University. He has been a choir director in school and church before moving to NYC to pursue a professional acting career. His acting credits include Higgins in My Fair Lady, Charlemagne in Pippin, El Gallo in The Fantasticks, Fagin in Oliver, Saunders in Lend Me A Tenor and various appearances in television and film, as well as several decades as a voice over artist. Jeffrey also works with physicians as a communications coach, is an acting and vocal coach and runs a digital marketing studio. When asked where he is from, Jeffrey Atherton answers, " Born in Hanover, NH, raised in Sarasota, FL, matured in NYC, and came to Denver, CO to raise a family". The family includes his beautiful wife, Natalie and 3 adult children Justin, Raechal and Serea. Onward & Upward!
Frederick Douglass will be portrayed by Lazarus Simmons. Lazarus Simmons was born in Missouri but has bounced around all over the United States and London. He would describe himself as a super-nerd and dreams of being Blue Marvel in the MCU--or any character in the West Wing when it eventually reboots. Lazarus holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and achieved his MFA from Rutgers University in Acting. After graduation he continued his career at Rutgers as an Administrator in the Theater Department and substitute teaching various acting classes. Some of his favorite acting performances have been The Shipment, The Winter’s Tale, The Nether, The Typographer's Dream, Dead End, Late Fame. Lazarus also works as a teaching artist and consultant for various theater organizations in New Jersey, including coLAB Arts and Thinkery & Verse. He is a founding and active member of the theater company, The Brick Factory. He is also a founding and active member of the production company, First Fight Films. Without a doubt, his driving force in life is the love of creating art with his tribe. He attributes any good qualities of his character to the exemplary child rearing skills of his father.
Spoken Word Poet, Cedric Hammed will serve as the narrator. Cedric Hameed is a fierce arts advocate and believes that local, national, and global change can be accomplished through expression. Evidence of his philosophy can be seen in the students and parent voices of Visible Men Academy. A native of Schenectady, N.Y, Cedric grew accustomed to using words as an escape from his harsh realities. He never realized it would be the blueprint to creating a life-changing platform. "Poetry saved my life, literally! I see the world in metaphors and similes. And, when you can see in the abstract you can create. I can see the world we can all create!"