2014-02-28 / Community Events

African-American Black History Month command program takes audience back in time

By Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Jo Bridgwater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Melissa Waddy-Thibodeaux portrays Harriet Tubman and shares the story of the Underground Railroad to an audience of service members, civilian personnel and students of Grovetown Elementary School during the installation’s African-American Black History Month command program Tuesday at Alexander Hall. 
Photo by Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Melissa Waddy-Thibodeaux portrays Harriet Tubman and shares the story of the Underground Railroad to an audience of service members, civilian personnel and students of Grovetown Elementary School during the installation’s African-American Black History Month command program Tuesday at Alexander Hall. Photo by Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office The African-American Black History Month command program took place Tuesday at Alexander Hall with historical reenactments performed by guest speaker Melissa Waddy- Thibodeaux before a standing room only crowd.

Waddy-Thibodeaux, a professional performance artist, instructor, and historical reenactor, captivated the audience by taking them back in time through sharing stories and taking on the persona of Harriet Tubman during the time of the Civil War and as Rosa Parks, the mother of the Civil Rights Movement. The program was hosted by 7th Signal Command (Theater) and included a musical tribute by the Grovetown Elementary School fourth and fifth grade singers.

“You’ve got to know your history, good and bad,” said Waddy-Thibodeaux during her performance as Tubman. The historical reenactments included songs reflective of the time to include a sobering rendition of the international hymn “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”. The reenactment of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat for a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., Dec. 1, 1955, included participation by Pvt. Donald Mayville, 7th Signal Command (Theater) as the infamous bus driver.

A rousing standing ovation replete with cheers filled the hall after each reenactment. Her characters interaction with the audience provided a glimpse into the past and the challenges daily life presented during the time of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement.

In character as Harriet Tubman she addressed the children in the audience by sharing how she wished she had been allowed to learn to read and write. A collective awe hung in the air as the children looked at each other and their teachers leaving one to guess that such a thing seemed to them incomprehensible.

The program closed with Brig. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., commander, 7th Signal Command (Theater), thanking Waddy- Thibodeaux and the fourth and fifth grade singers for bringing their talent to Fort Gordon.

Waddy-Thibodeaux is a graduate of Ross S. Sterling High School in Houston, Texas where she received a full theatrical scholarship to one of the oldest theatrical training institutions in Texas, the Lon Morris College in Jacksonville. After completing college she moved to Hollywood where she became a model and lead vocalist for her band Meridian, and where she performed multiple roles with local theaters and schools.

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