Florence Roach educates students on African American movement
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 18:02
On Monday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. in Watkins Auditorium, the UTM Civil Rights Conference presented Florence (Flo) Roach’s “My She-Roes.”
Having acting experience as a character in the popular movie, “The Help,” Roach is dedicated to performance and the African American movement. Her performance, “My She-Roes,” is a dedication to African Americans and their journey to freedom written and performed by Roach. In preparation for the performance, she requested some help from UTM students. With the sound of the bongos, dancers sprang to the stage and the show was put into action.
There were six different chapters to the play: “In the Beginning,” “The Middle Passage,” “Slavery,” “Freedom,” “Civil Rights Movement” and “Salute to She-Roes.” UTM students were involved first-hand throughout the production as they sang songs playing both slaves and Civil Rights protesters.
Roach played different influential women, or “she-roes,” during each chapter.
The play ended with Roach inviting the audience to stand if they would commit to being “she-roes.”
Roach said that the reason she wrote this play is to educate people.
“It’s been a part of my culture, and I wanted to tell the story with the next generation and the next generation,” Roach said. “I hope that they learned something that they didn’t already know. If they just took one thing away that they didn’t know before they walked into this auditorium, I’m pleased.”
Roach is no stranger to the UTM campus. She gave a presentation during last year’s conference.
“Mrs. Boyd and Dr. Barber invited me up here last year for the Civil Rights Conference, and I did a presentation about how the arts affected the Civil Rights Movement, and they were all amazed by how it really did. Most people don’t even know it,” Roach said.
She made her way back for this year’s conference at the request of the students.
“One of the students actually came up to me and said, ‘Ms. Roach, can you come back and help us with some kind of black history presentation?’ And so I passed it on to them and I said, ‘Your students want to know if I can come back and do something,’ and they said, ‘We can do that!’ ” Roach said.
Roach also said that she finds the UTM Civil Rights Conference to be a very important event.
“I think this conference is so important, because it is a teaching tool. It is a teaching tool about a very important part of history that is almost forgotten. So, I am glad that Dr. Barber is still having this conference because it is needed,” Roach said.
Roach grew up in Robinsonville, Miss., where she graduated high school. She went on to receive her B.S. Degree in Business Education from Jackson State University, her Masters in Vocational Business from the University of Memphis and her Administration and Supervision certification from the University of Memphis.
Roach has been given many awards throughout her career including Best Cast Award from SAG for the movie, “The Help”and the Shining Star Award from a sorority she is a member of, Delta Sigma Theta.