‘I Was There Too’ shares Black Panther child’s perspective

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By Kathy Chouteau

Two previews of “I Was There Too,” Meres-Sia Gabriel’s one-woman, multimedia show about being born into The Black Panther Party, are coming to Airship Laboratories in Richmond Aug. 9 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 11 at 2 p.m. Doors open an hour in advance and tickets are $12.

The production shares Gabriel’s “inner revolution” via spoken word and music, of being born to two Black Panthers—Emory Douglas and “Asali” Dickson—and navigating a childhood of poverty and secrecy.

Her show takes the audience on a journey from 1970s Oakland to 1990s Paris, and the experiences in between. Along the way, Gabriel aims to continue her own personal healing, as well as foster community healing. A Q&A will occur after each show and wine and food will be available to purchase.

“This is a rare opportunity to hear a firsthand account of what it was like to grow up in a revolutionary movement that changed the course of history,” said Gabriel.

Gabriel presents her show on the heels of a wildly successful panel in April at the Richmond Art Center, where she joined together with other children of Black Panthers to share their experiences via “Year of the Panther Cub: We Were There Too!” She is a Richmond resident.

During a 2017 appearance in Richmond, Bobby Seale, cofounder of the original Black Panther Party, shared that some of the Black Panther Party’s first community efforts occurred in Richmond. It established Richmond’s first youth jobs program, he said, as well as other social justice activities. The City of Richmond eventually honored Seale with a proclamation for his work.

“I Was There Too” was produced by Gabriel, directed by Ajuana Black and includes Musical Direction by Dr. Yafeu Tyhimba.

The location of the show, Airship Laboratories, is a music production facility located in Richmond. Once people purchase tickets to Gabriel’s show, they will receive information about the location of the facility. Click for tickets.