This Week on One Detroit:

‘The Chinese Lady,’ play about first Chinese woman in America, premieres in Michigan

A fourteen-year-old Chinese girl came to America 190 years ago – said to be the first female Chinese immigrant to set foot here during the 1800s. Now, a play, “The Chinese Lady” premiering at the Tipping Point Theatre in Northville this week and running through March 3, recounts the remarkable life of Afong Moy and her Chinese servant Atung. 

Afong’s journey to America is not well known. Much of her story has been lost with time. But “The Chinese Lady” playwright Lloyd Suh brought Afong back to life on stage. The two-person show first premiered in 2018, and this is the production’s first stage appearance in Michigan.  

The show is directed by Jasmine Rivera, starring Michigan native Josie Mi as Afong Moy and Don Castro as Atung. Tipping Point Theatre Artistic Director Julia Glander made space on her schedule in Northville after seeing it performed in Chicago. Mi and Castro now live in New York while Rivera lives here in Southeast Michigan. 

One Detroit senior producer Bill Kubota visited the Tipping Point Theatre for its first dress rehearsal of the show. He talks with Mi and Castro about the real-life stories behind the characters they’re portraying on stage and what they tell us about past and present American society.

Rose Morton unravels her family’s history of slavery in her book ‘Our Family’s Keepers’

Tracing one’s family roots is a journey of self-discovery, but for many African Americans, it’s a path fraught with challenges. The ability to trace ancestral roots has often been hindered by the scarcity of pre-1870 census records, and any records that were kept by enslaved individuals were often handwritten, poorly maintained and lost over time.  

Nearly four in ten (41%) Black adults report their ancestors were enslaved in the United States, according to a 2022 Pew Research Study. One-third (34%) say they are not sure if their ancestors were enslaved, while 8% say their ancestors were not enslaved. 

Amid African Americans’ challenge to trace their ancestry, Rose Morton has emerged as an example of the poignant history that can be discovered by finding your roots. In Morton’s book, “Our Family’s Keepers,” she chronicles her ancestors’ story set against the backdrop of the renowned Middleton Plantation in South Carolina. Morton’s narrative delves into the complexities of slave life, exploring controversial and dynamic issues faced by enslaved African Americans and their owner and shedding light on the resilience and strength that shaped their destinies. 

In a conversation with Rose Morton, “American Black Journal” contributor Daijah Moss delves into the intricacies of Morton’s quest for identity and the profound impact it had on her and others connected to the Middleton Plantation. Plus, Morton provides a powerful testament to the importance of understanding and embracing history, no matter how challenging or painful it may be.

One Detroit Weekend: February 9, 2024

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Get the celebrations started early this weekend with the Valentine’s Soul Jam at The Fox Theatre in Detroit or check out the Chocolate Extravaganza in downtown Chelsea. Plus, a Black History Month educator workshop at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Stagecrafters’ modern interpretation of “Romeo and Juliet,” in Royal Oak and more. See what else is coming up on “One Detroit Weekend” with Dave Wagner of 90.9 WRCJ. 

Upcoming Events: 

  • Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your loved one at the Valentine’s Soul Jam at the Fox Theatre in Detroit Feb. 10, with performances from Russell Thompkins Jr. and The New Stylists, Heatwave, Bloodstone, Enchantment, and The Intruders. 
  • Taste some sweet treats at the Chocolate Extravaganza in historic downtown Chelsea Feb. 10, featuring a cocoa crawl, shopping, chocolate-making demonstrations, a vendor market and more.  
  • Listen to the sounds of earth, water, wind and fire at the Birmingham Concert Band’s performance “Elements of Nature” at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer Feb. 11.  
  • See Stagecrafters’ modern interpretation of the classic Shakespeare romance, “Romeo and Juliet,” on the main stage at the Baldwin Theatre in Royal Oak through Feb. 25.  
  • Grab tickets for Farmington Players’ production of “Lend Me A Tenor,” the story of a world-famous tenor who hilariously can’t make his performance. The play runs through Feb. 24.  
  • Go on an Africana field trip and explore the Detroit Institute of Art’s special exhibit “Regeneration: Black Cinema” during the museum’s Black History Month Educator Workshop. 
  • Visit artist Natalie Wadlington’s “Pollards” exhibit on display at the Library Street Collective in Detroit. The exhibit features multidisciplinary works like paintings, drawings and sculptures.  
  • Check out Detroit-based installation artist Andy T’s “Urban Vision, 2001-2024″ exhibit on display at the Stamelos Gallery Center in the Mardigian Library at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. 

Gospel artist Kevin Stewart celebrates Detroit’s gospel history

To celebrate the importance of gospel music in Detroit, Sande Rose from the Detroit Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America presents a performance by gospel artist Kevin Stewart on “Detroit Performs: Live From Marygrove.” He sings “Come by Here.” 

Stewart’s performance is part of a “Detroit Performs” special, hosted by Satori Shakoor and BridgeDetroit journalist Orlando Bailey at Greater Grace Temple, celebrating the city’s vibrant gospel history. 

As an artist, Stewart has opened for Pastor Donnie McClurkin and the Fred Hammond Festival of Praise tour. He’s collaborated with renowned gospel artists including LeAndria Johnson, Donald Lawrence, Ernest Pugh and Patti Austin.

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