Ilene Evans Bio - Coralie Franklin Cook Reenactor

After receiving her B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology from Trinity College in Deerfield , Illinois , Ms. Evans received extensive theater and dance training in the master's degree program at the University of Wisconsin . Later, Ms. Evans joined and worked with the dance collaborative called “Momenta!” at the Academy of Movement and Music based in Oak Park , IL . There she performed and taught ballet, jazz and modern dance. In 1988, she joined the staff of Whirlwind Performance Company as a teaching artist and performer. At Whirlwind, she taught dance, choreography, storytelling, vocal technique, and African-American cultural arts.

In 1991, Ms. Evans created and started touring her original work, General Moses, Stories from the Life of Harriet Tubman. Ms. Evans received the Tidmarsh Foundation for the Arts grant for General Moses. She has performed her piece in conjunction with a companion workshop about the Underground Railroad. Among Ms. Evans' other performances are Harvest of Dreams, and They Call Me Ms. Memphis. These pieces reveal the rich African American culture through stories, songs, and poems. In 2000, Ms Evans performed Harvest of Dreams to the Fringe Festival in Edinburg , Scotland .

Ms. Evans resides in West Virginia . She is co-founder of Voices from the Earth, a non-profit arts organization. Ms. Evans has served as the President of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild. She has also been the featured vocalist and storyteller for Peter and the Wolf with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra. Last year, Ms. Evans original work, Climbing up the Beanstalk, was adapted for stage by director Thomas Reese and performed at the Cincinnati State Community College .

Ms. Evans is included in the West Virginia Artist Roster and the West Virginia Humanities Council. Ms Evans continues to develop new programs, record and offer educational arts experiences. She is currently researching and developing a new character for portrayal by the name of Coralie Franklin Cook. She was an elocutionist and professor at Howard University , having graduated from Storer College in Harpers Ferry , WV in 1880.

Coralie Franklin Cook - Black Suffragist, Educator and Elocutionist

Ilene Evans tells stories in the first person portrayal of Coralie Franklin Cook. This form of storytelling is a living history lesson for the classroom with discussion and question opportunities The Historical event Evans presents is the Suffrage Parade of 1913, Washington D.C. It was intended to be a peaceful march in our nation’s capital the day before the Thirty Second Presidential Inauguration. This parade and program was of particular significance for African American Women who were also struggling for equality and the right to vote. Events and decisions that were made this day forced African American women to separate from the White suffrage organizations and take up their own cause on behalf of themselves.

In the early days after emancipation black and white women fought together, side by side for their rights. But there came a time when northern white women were afraid of offending their southern supporters. It was decided that the black women would not be allowed to vote along with their white sisters. This was an outrageous affront to the Black leadership including Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells. They formed a new organization for the interests of black women and their families. It was called the National Association for Colored Women, formed in 1896 (NACW).

250 Word introduction:
Coralie Franklin Cook (1858 – 1941) elocutionist, social activist, suffragist, educator, was born in Lexington, VA to Albert and Mary C. Franklin of Rockbridge County. She had one sister by the name of Mary Elizabeth, who married West Virginia’s first black attorney, John Robert Clifford of Martinsburg, WV. At the close of the Civil War the family moved to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The girls were enrolled at the Free Will Baptist Mission School, the Preparatory School, the Normal School and the Academic School. These were part of Storer College. Cook continued her studies at Emerson College in Boston, Martha’s Vineyard Summer Institute, and the Shoemaker School of Oratory in Philadelphia. Coralie Franklin Cook became an outspoken and well respected leader in the African American community - well known in both West Virginia and Washington D.C. in issues of women’s suffrage, temperance, and education. Cook was an active member of the Board of Education for the District of Colombia, the Red Cross, the Home for Destitute Women and Children, and the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and helped form the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). She followed the motto of the NACW: “Deeds, not words” and “Lifting as We Climb.” She was deeply committed to equality and practiced a faith that reflected all the races, genders, nationalities and histories regardless of class. In this quest to bring respect and dignity to her people, she found expression through her devotion to the fine arts. She started the elocution program at Howard University, Washington, D.C. and today it continues as their Drama department.