Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Event Slides Per Node 1415

The Frederick Douglass Project

6:00 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Theater of War Productions presents The Frederick Douglass Project, a live, online reading by an acclaimed actor of speeches by the American social reformer.

Emmy Award-winning actor Keith David (of films including NopePlatoon, and Armageddon) will give a dramatic reading of a speech delivered by Douglass at the National Convention of Colored Men in Louisville, Kentucky, on September 24, 1883.

The virtual event will include a dramatic reading, a presentation by a community panel (see the list of panelists below), and a moderated townhall-style audience discussion. The goal is to foster compassion and embrace positive action.

Theater of War Productions is a social impact company that uses theatre and a variety of other media to address pressing public health and social issues, such as combat-related psychological injury; end-of-life care; prison reform; political violence and torture; domestic violence; and the de-stigmatization of the treatment of substance abuse and addiction.

KEITH DAVID is a classically trained actor, Emmy Award winner, and Tony Award nominee. David stars, alongside Zoë Saldaña, in the 2022 Netflix limited series From Scratch. His expansive film credits include 21 BridgesNight School, Disney’s The Princess and the FrogRequiem for a DreamMen at WorkThey Live, Crash, There’s Something About MaryThe Thing, and Platoon. He completed five seasons starring in Greenleaf for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. Other TV credits include NCIS: New OrleansBlackishMacGyverFresh Off the BoatCommunityEnlisted, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

David’s voiceover work features his narration for the premiere of Ken Burns’ Ali. His collaboration with Burns earned him three Emmy Awards for his narration of Jackie RobinsonThe War, and Unforgivable Blackness:The Rise & Fall of Jack Johnson. Some of his other voice acting credits include Adventure TimeBojack HorsemanRick & MortySpawn, and Gargoyles. On Broadway, he starred in Seven Guitars and Jelly’s Last Jam, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award for best actor in a musical.

As a singer, David has toured for the past several years with Too Marvelous for Words, in which he portrays Nat King Cole, and Here’s to Life, a show about legendary blues singer Joe Williams.

Born and raised in New York, David is a graduate of the New York High School of the Performing Arts and The Juilliard School.

Community panelists

NATNAEL ABATE is a fourth-year student at Penn State majoring in biobehavioral health with a minor in human development and family studies. Abate is interested in pursuing a career in healthcare policy and management to help ensure that marginalized populations have fair access to healthcare. He intends to develop strategies that not only increase health and well-being, but that also address health disparities causing harm in many communities.

ALESSANDRA AYOUB, a first-year student studying criminology at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, is a Lion Ambassador. 

AVERY CHAHL, a Houston native, is a doctoral student of human development and family studies at Penn State. Her research focuses on peer relationships in childhood and early adolescence, namely leveraging peer relationships to improve well-being. She is also passionate about science communication and getting data into the hands of those who can use it to create change. She is co-chair of her department’s graduate steering committee, where she uses her position to advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice issues. 

JANEL MOORE-ALMOND is a middle- and high-school social studies teacher at the George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science. She received her undergraduate degree in Afro-American Studies from Harvard University, and a master’s degree in education as well as a certificate in project-based learning from the University of Pennsylvania. She is pursuing a doctorate in educational policy and leadership with a focus in diversity and equity from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. She was the 2018 recipient of the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in the Philadelphia School District. Moore-Almond has served as a curriculum writer and reviewer for the Colored Conventions Project since 2020.

AVA STARKS is a third-year student at Penn State pursuing a bachelor of philosophy degree in culturally diverse event management with minors in African American studies and Spanish. A Schreyer Honors College scholar, she is working toward earning a meeting and event management certificate through the Penn State School of Hospitality Management. Starks serves as president of the Penn State Student Black Caucus. Additional campus involvement includes the Filipino Association and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Starks, a native of Brooklyn, New York, has lived in State College for ten years.

JULIO TOUSSAINT, a third-year student at Penn State Abington, is majoring in history with a double minor in African American and Latino studies. A part of the Black Student Union since his first year of college, he has served as vice president and president. He is also a member of the Penn State Abington cheerleading team.  

TERRY WATSON is a professional speaker, author, and trainer specializing in disability equity in education, racial justice, healing, and law enforcement. He is assistant director for Student Disability Services at Penn State World Campus and the founder of Strategies for Justice, a speaking and training bureau. At Penn State, he works with faculty, designers, and student-facing units. He helps to shape practices, procedures, and policies to include individuals with disabilities. His passion for advocacy originates in his work since 2001 with children on the autism spectrum. Watson serves as co-chair of State College NAACP educational planning, chair of Community & Campus in Unity; and co-chair of the Commission on Racial/Ethnic Diversity. 



Watch the live event beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday, February 8.

The program is scheduled to last approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes.

support provided by 
Richard Robert Brown Program Endowment

We thank these Penn State partners for their support:

  • College of Arts and Architecture
  • College of Health and Human Development
  • College of the Liberal Arts
  • Office of the Vice Provost for Commonwealth Campuses
  • Smeal College of Business
  • Penn State Wilkes-Barre
  • University Libraries

We also acknowledge the Colored Conventions Project and Douglass Day at the Center for Black Digital Research at Penn State. Douglass Day will celebrate the birthday of Frederick Douglass with a global Black history transcribe-a-thon on February 14, 2023. Visit douglassday.org for information.

Artist Websites: