BJU graduate Jeremiah Dew, known by the stage name JDew, will return to campus on Feb. 29 to perform his one-man-show, “One Voice: A Black History Narrative.”
The performance is a multimedia theatre production that walks the audience through African American history by portraying figures such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali and showing video vignettes of important African American figures in South Carolina.
The proceeds from the tickets, which cost $8, will go to Homes of Hope, a local charity that builds low income housing and aids men struggling with addictions during their recovery.
During the show’s theatrical portions, Dew embodies African Americans from history, using excerpts from their writings and words to tell their stories. Other men Dew portrays are James Weldon Johnson, using his poem “The Creation,” Frederick Douglass and excerpts from his autobiography and President Barack Obama and his “Yes, We Can” speech.
The show also includes video “vignettes” throughout the show, detailing the lives of African Americans in South Carolina during times of struggle.
Ron Pyle, head of the theatre department, said the show is inspiring. “Many of these people overcame tremendous obstacles to achieve great things,” Pyle said.
Pyle taught Dew while he attended BJU. Later, Dew approached Pyle with the idea for “One Voice.” “It was all his idea,” Pyle said. “I just gave him acting suggestions.” After getting Pyle’s suggestions and direction, Dew premiered his show at the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville in 2007.
Since then, he’s performed versions of the show at colleges and for corporate functions at companies such as Verizon Wireless and Michelin North America. He continues to perform it on stage one to two times a year.
Pyle said he wanted Dew to return this year to celebrate Black History Month in the theatre department. “It’s just a good way to remind everybody about the importance of the contributions of African Americans into American culture,” Pyle said.
Pyle said he thinks BJU students should attend the program because many may not be aware of African American contributions to the U.S. “I know I’m not as aware as I could be,” Pyle said.
Pyle said he thinks the program is very informative for those who aren’t African Americans. “It’s also moving to see the progress that has been made, even though we still have a long way to go in racial relations in this country,” Pyle said.
Pyle also said the performance is not focused on politics. “This is not a political program,” Pyle said. “I think this transcends politics.” When setting up this specific performance, Pyle asked Dew to suggest a charity to give the proceeds to, and Dew chose the charity Homes of Hope, of which he is on the board. Homes of Hope has a Gospel emphasis in their Christian-staffed ministry.
Local ministries that work with disadvantaged youths will bring groups to see the performance on campus. “We feel like that’s also an important part of what we’re trying to do through the program: to have some sort of even small impact in the community,” Pyle said.
After graduating from BJU, Dew has been involved in communities across South Carolina, emceeing at the Greenville Drive from 2007 to 2016 and hyping up attendees at Clemson University basketball games.