Heritage drama to focus on local legends Russell, Newton, and Foster

When Basketball legend Bill Russell wrote the story of his life, it began with his life in West Monroe, La.

The same was true of Robert Foster, a world-class surgeon, and Huey P. Newtown, founder of the Black Panther Party. They began their life stories with accounts of their lives in Monroe, La.

The childhood family drama of Russell, Foster, and Newtown is the subject of the 2020 Heritage Drama entitled, “Destiny” that opens next week at the Fabulous Tab-A-Torium, 311 N. 9th St.

School performances will begin Tuesday-Friday next week. Public performances are February 14th and 15th at 7:30 p.m. There will be a special Sunday, February 16th performance for Senior Citizens and churches at 3 p.m.

“Destiny” features original music by Robert Wright and choreography by Seletta McClinton.

All three men moved from Monroe to California and stepped into their destinies.

Russell’s family moved to California after the death of his mother, Katie Russell. In California, he began playing basketball and eventually became the greatest NBA basketball star of all times, earning 11 NBA championship rings.

Newton’s father was the pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church for a short time before moving his wife and seven children to California seeking a better life. Young Newton eventually founded the Black Panther Party.

Foster, son of Rev. Madison James Foster, left Monroe in the aftermath of a church shooting at the Zion Traveler’s Baptist Church in which three people were killed, and four others were wounded. Robert Pershing Foster was ostracized locally when his family was blamed for the shootings.

Rev. Foster was a candidate for pastor of the church, and a woman interrupted his sermon shouting at him. The shootings and deaths followed.

Although Rev. Foster had nothing to do with the shooting, the Foster family bore the blame, since opposition to his candidacy was the cause of action.
Rev. Foster found his destiny as the principal of Monroe Colored High and Robert Pershing discovered his destiny as a brilliant military surgeon.

The 90-minute musical drama, laced with comedy, singing, and dancing, focuses on the three families and the circumstances that pushed each youth to achieve their destiny.

In 1985 the City of Monroe began hosting the heritage dramas as a free city-sponsored Black History event. However, in recent years civic center charges reached $10,000, prompting the move to the Tab-A-Torium, which has a smaller seating capacity, but a Civic Center sized stage, lighting, and sound.

“Those who see this year’s show will laugh, enjoy the dancing and pageantry as they enjoy “Destiny,” said Roosevelt Wright, Jr. the author and director of the play.

Ticket prices are $15. Advance tickets are available at the Free Press office @ 216 Collier St. or from any Top Gun Time Traveler. Proceeds from the annual production provide scholarships and travel assistance to youth in the Time Traveler study program.

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