Making History: How a Hurricane Katrina Survivor Helped One Student Find Her Purpose

Danielle Covington (left). Janae Harris and Danielle Covington perform Voices from the Storm at Oakland Technical High School in 2015 (right, photo Jay Yamada)

“This was a turning point in my life.”

 STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Danielle Covington

Danielle discovered her passion for socially engaged theatre in high school, while adapting the VOW book Voices from the Storm: The People of New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina and its Aftermath into a play.“Growing up, I was very independent and determined to pursue the arts.

One of my favorite high school projects was based on the Voice of Witness book Voices From the Storm. As part of Oakland Technical High School’s theatre company OakTech Rep, I helped adapt thirteen oral histories from victims of Hurricane Katrina into a script to be staged and performed for the public.

dan-bright-portraitThis adaptation was different from other shows because we had the responsibility of representing real people. I was given the role of Dan Bright, a black man who was thrown in jail during the storm on false charges, abandoned by the guards, and forced to break out with his cellmates so that he didn’t drown.

When creating the show, I realized that when tragedies like these happen, we tend to focus more on numbers and statistics than on the people who are actually affected, which allows people who are suffering to be disregarded and overlooked.

Organizations like Voice of Witness bring our attention back to the experiences of these people so that justice can be restored. Portraying Dan Bright on stage was challenging because I didn’t know him personally, but I was able to connect with him by reading his story, doing research, and “finding where our souls met.”

This was a turning point in my life. The experience taught me that theatre is an important tool for educating people about human rights crises. It allows actors to connect and empathize with characters, and encourages the audience—hundreds of people each night—to take action against injustices that they have just learned about.

 This work inspired me to study drama at New York University, where I’m currently a freshman, to learn about even more methods to bring underrepresented voices to the stage.”

The VOW Education Program is able to support transformative projects
like Voices from the Storm thanks to the support of donors like you.

Will you help us create opportunities
for more students like Danielle?


Help us raise $50,000 for the VOW Education Program by December 31, 2016.
Make a gift to the Make History Campaign today.

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