Mercilee Jenkins, the playwright, who is a Detroit Eastside native and a professor at San Francisco State University, will be present for the performances. Spirit of Detroit will be performed by students from the University of Michigan, under the direction of Kate Mendeloff, a faculty member of the Drama program. There will be four performances, one for Detroit high school students, two evening performances on Friday, February 28th March 2nd Charles H. Wright Museum and will be followed by a facilitated discussion. The Sunday matinee will include a panel of local historians and civic leaders presenting their perspectives on the impact of the events of 1967 on Detroit history.
Kate Mendeloff has been active in several major areas in her work at Michigan. She teaches American Drama, contemporary plays about gender issues, Greek drama and modern adaptation, and Chekhov and Ibsen. She is also the Artistic Director of Shakespeare in the Arb, environmental staging of plays in the University Nichol's Arboretum since 2001. Another important aspect of her work is the R.C. Community Theater Collaborative, which places students in community sites where they use the arts in the support of literacy and self-expression for underserved populations.
Robert L. Smith earned Masters in Education from Purdue University in Instructional Technology. In 2006, Smith started employment at the Charles H. Wright Museum and is currently the Vice President of Education and Exhibitions. His most recent accomplishments was directing the development of the Inspiring Minds Exhibition – African American Scientists and Inventors, a $600,000 project to document the Underground Railroad, and the Marching Toward Justice Exhibition, a permanent installation at the Damon J. Keith Law Center in Wayne State University Law School. From 1997- 1999, Smith directed the Damon J. Keith Law Collection at Wayne. From 1990-1996, Smith directed the African-American Educational Archives (AAEA) at Wayne and raised $1,000,000 to conduct an archival survey of the 99Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Angela D. Dillard is Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies and serves as the Director of the Residential College at the University of Michigan. She specializes in intellectual history, religious studies, conservatism, and social movements. Her most recent book, Faith in the City: Preaching Radical Social Change in Detroit, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2007. Her first book Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Now?: Multicultural Conservatism in America (NYU Press, 2001), was among the first critical studies of the rise of political conservatism among African Americans, Latinos, women and homosexuals. She is currently at work on a political biography of James H. Meredith, the civil rights icon turned conservative Republican.