Updated: Oct 2, 2018
Creating social change through artistic expression!
Local playwright Gregory Lloyd Morris tackles unemployment and crime at World Cafe Live at The Queen.
When Wilmington playwright Gregory Lloyd Morris and director Andre Jones debuted #BlackJobsMatter: A Wilmington Experiment at the baby grand in February, it was supposed to be a one-time show.
The single-act performance, highlighting three disparate stories about the issues of unemployment, job discrimination and felon re-entry, was hard-hitting. Written with the city of Wilmington in mind — upwards of 9,000 African American males in the city are jobless — Morris wanted to utilize his artistic skill to help create awareness and promote social change.
INSIDE THE LAB
The Influencers Lab curated community engagement, digital media campaigns i.e including graphic design, guerrilla marketing campaigns, web design, event promotion.
“#BlackJobsMatter sent shockwaves through the city,” says Morris. “Those we have criminalized in our minds are really some of the brightest people in the community. But those are the stories that don’t get in the newspaper.” Morris believes the play presents one possible solution to the city’s issues: the introduction of enterprise zones government tax incentives offered to businesses to provide jobs for underserved residents that would help reduce crime and unemployment in some of the area’s most criminalized zip codes.
After receiving positive feedback from the February performance, Morris and crew were offered a second opportunity to witness the free-of-charge theater experience at World Cafe Live at The Queen. Keynote speakers from Buccini/Pollin Group and the Twin Poets—the state’s poet laureates, took the stage.
Since the 2016 performance of #BlackJobsMatter, Morris has noticed the beginnings of social movement.
“I was commended by the banking community and the governor for taking art and using it as activism, and we collected 300 names on a petition to give to the governor to encourage enterprise zones,” he says.
He encourages all city residents to do the same write to city and state officials to encourage enterprise zones. “My offering is a solution, not the solution,” Morris says. “I challenge other visionaries in the community, whether artists, activists, or a combo, to come up with their version of a solution. That’s the power of art speaking towards activism art is the most powerful voice. We can say things the politicians can’t.”