A! Magazine for the Arts

Tina McDaniel (photo by David Grace)

Tina McDaniel (photo by David Grace)

Tina McDaniel creates monologue as a tribute to mother

January 28, 2023

Tina McDaniel, Bristol, Tennessee, was one of the organizers of Bristol’s first Martin Luther King Jr., celebration and since her retirement volunteers with various groups. She has a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership, is a certified diversity professional and completed Cornell University’s Diversity and Inclusion certificate program.

This year, she is expanding her involvement in promoting inclusivity by writing a monologue for Barter Theatre’s Shine: Illuminating Black Stories.

“As I learned more about Shine and the desire to bring visibility to stories of Blacks in Appalachia, the project resonated and aligned with my personal passion.Inclusive communities create opportunities for all of our stories to be told, so I absolutely loved the concept of Shine. I had previously worked on several community history projects with William Isom, director of Black in Appalachia, to uncover parts of the history of the Black community in Bristol.I knew that bringing our stories to life at Barter Theatre was something I wanted to be a part of.I also trusted that the Barter team would be thoughtful in how they approached this project, and, of course, it would be done with excellence.

“The prompt I selected was about a little Black girl’s story of her daddy purchasing property in a small community in Northeast Tennessee. She shares about the family move to the home place. And life was wonderful — until the day the Klan rode up on horseback, intending to scare them away. Her daddy hurried them all in the house — and then he got his gun. The Klan wasn’t used to being shot at and turned and hightailed it out of there. She laughs when she remembers those Klansmen frantically galloping away, with their robes billowing out behind them.

“The story is about my mother’s childhood. I actually chose this prompt so that I could write something to dedicate to her. My mother is currently 88 years old and writing the monologue gave me an opportunity to document a story she shared with me a few years ago.My hope isthat thestory will be passed down through the generations.

“So many of our seniors in the Black community aredying out. Unfortunately, many have gone, and we did not document their stories.There is a sense of urgency to capture as many of those stories beforethe window closes.While Shine also focuses on contemporary stories, I have a personal interest in the seniors.Shine is also a way to celebrate the stories of Black Appalachians — a demographic that has often been underrepresented in various facets of community life,” McDaniel says.

McDaniel was so inspired when she learned about Shine that she attended the monologue writing workshop to learn the process of writing. Her intent was to learn the writing technique not necessarily to enter her monologue in a contest. After she wrote it, she thought “Why not?”.

“I encourage everyone to make an effort to attend the 2023 Shine production Sunday, Feb. 26. I am confident that you will leave inspired and proud of the effort Barter has put into this project. It is more about human dignity and valuing all our stories, realizing that collectively we are the community. All of us,” she says.