guest blog post // ‘Bravo to On Q’

Russell L. Goings, author of The Children of Children Keep Coming

Renaissance Man Russell L. Goings, Author of The Children of Children Keep Coming

Following a recent performance of Russell L. Goings’ The Children of Children Keep Coming by On Q Performing Arts, Inc, Irene Blair Honeycutt wrote the piece below. On Q, a nonprofit theater company that presents performance works reflecting the Black experience, opened its fifth season with a staged reading of The Children of Children. The production took place October 3-5 at Duke Energy Theater in Charlotte. 

The theater was almost filled, and among the audience sat Russell L. Goings himself. Sitting in a row nearby, I could hear Goings’ occasional deep-throated “uh-huh,” “yes,” “amen,” and see him shake his head in approval and sometimes wipe tears from his cheeks. Quentin Talley, artistic director, and his talented cast had clearly captured the power of this Griot song. The theater itself seemed to rattle as if a train were coming around the corner bearing the likes of Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.

This locomotive style was pronounced throughout the performance with knee- and hip-slapping by the performers who read, sang and danced their way through the trials of slavery up to and through  the modern Jackie Robinson, the clang of integration, while killings, beatings, and the KKK still threatened blacks to stay in their places—separate water fountains, back seats on the bus (if any seat at all!)—stepping aside to let whites pass on sidewalks. The voices of Rosa Parks, Marian Anderson and Mahalia Jackson; the blues and jazz of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis…these were conjured and many heard and others—all threaded throughout this moving poetic narrative.

On Q performance of The Children of Children Keep Coming by Russell L. Goings, 3 Oct 2013 | Photo by Gena J.

On Q performance of The Children of Children Keep Coming by Russell L. Goings, 3 Oct 2013 | Photo by Gena J.

The Children of Children Keep Coming ultimately reflects Goings’ belief in a universal god and in a humanity that reaches beyond bitterness toward universal healing. Goings has said of his work that it “is the attempt to synthesize the notion of a griot (West African storyteller/musician/oral historian) with the blues, jazz, gospel, ragtime, Dixieland.“ In 90 minutes with no intermission, On Q melds Goings’ themes of cultural change without missing a beat.

On Q performance of The Children of Children, 3 Oct 2013

On Q performance of The Children of Children, 3 Oct 2013

I came away elated, with a renewed sense of how far we have come and how the children keep coming on many levels, that freedom awaits all who endure, and that hope and inspiration transcend indignities and bitterness. This production will surely find its way to the next level! Bravo to On Q for such a cohesive, energetic, awe-inspiring performance!


Irene Blair Honeycutt is author of four books and teaches creative writing. She is founding director of the Spring Literary Festival at Central Piedmont Community College and served as a member of the College’s faculty and staff  for nearly four decades.

An Exquisite Truth

Earlier today at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, I participated in the annual meeting of North Carolina Network of Grantmakers (NCNG). Joining me on the panel were CIN members Tim McIntosh and Darryl Lester. Our session on bold and unconventional philanthropy drew an audience of over 80 people, who listened intently and posed thoughtful questions.

Over lunch, Martin Eakes, founder of Self-Help, delivered a stirring and, at times, eyebrow-raising keynote message about moving people from “poverty to justice” and the possibilities and responsibilities of philanthropy, today and into the future. His speech punctuated the words and philanthropic deeds of the panelists in my session. In wrapping up, Martin shared a passage from one of his favorite quotes (and mine, too), which is featured in Giving BackIf only more work in philanthropy were threaded with this exquisite truth.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” ― Frederick Douglass