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Stories of a slave: Actress offers living history lesson

Kitty Wilson-Evans, a former kindergarten teacher, author and now a slave impersonator, visited First Baptist Church of Thomson last Sunday night to share an inspirational message of courage and love of family and God.

The 70-year-old Ms. Evans, portrayed "Kessie, the slave girl" during a special program held in conjunction with the church's 150th anniversary. Donning the clothing worn by slave women 150 and 200 years ago, Ms. Evans described what life was like for Kessie as a slave.

The actress' portrayal of the slave tied right into the celebration of Black History Month, as well as the fact that a slave by the name of Moses was the first man baptized after the founding of First Baptist Church of Thomson. Moses was a slave of a man named Josiah Stovall, who attended the new church.

Moses, who is believed to have taken the last name of his master, was later accepted as a member of the newly-founded church and the next day was baptized at Sweetwater Baptist Church near Thomson, according to Doris Hunt, who is busy these days writing about First Baptist's rich history.

Blacks attending the church back in the slave days were forced to worship from the balcony, while their masters, their wives and family members worshiped below. During Ms. Evans' dramatization of pretending to have been a slave, members of the church sat side by side with blacks from other area churches who received a special invitation to attend last Sunday night's special service.

Afterwards, many of those attending the service walked from the sanctuary to the fellowship hall, conversing as friends and later sharing refreshments at the same tables.

"I hope all is forgiven," said Mrs. Hunt, referring to hatred that once existed because of racial injustice.

Sitting at the table with her was Betty Baker, of Warrenton, who is a member of Cody Grove Baptist Church in Warren County and attended the dramatization with about 30 other members of her church.

"This has meant a lot to me, personally," said Ms. Baker. "I can't blame anybody today for what happened to my ancestors. I see everyone as equal."

Toombs Judicial Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge Roger W. Dunaway, Jr., also a member of First Baptist, said, "This is a great way to start off the history celebration of our church and its roots."

Rasheeda Usry, a third grade teacher at M.E. Freeman Elementary School, who grew up in Thomson, said of Ms. Evans' performance, "I really enjoyed it, because this is part of our history."

Bea Hart-Moss, a former member of the McDuffie County Board of Education, described Ms. Evans' work as awesome on stage.

"You could really feel her pain as a slave, because she put her heart and soul into conveying that to those of us who saw and heard her," said Mrs. Hart-Moss.

In his closing prayer, Dr. James Ramsey, pastor of First Baptist Church, said, "You're the great God that brings us all together."

Web posted on Thursday, February 26, 2009

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