The Landmark Society Presents “Walk the Walk: Encounters with our African-American Ancestors”

Rochester’s African American ancestors will be brought to life at the 2015 performance of Walk the Walk: Encounters with Rochester’s African-American Ancestors presented by The Landmark Society of Western New York this February.

Now in its 19th year, Walk the Walk is offered FREE during a single performance only – Thursday, February 5 at 7 p.m. – at The Memorial AME Zion Church, 549 Clarissa Street in the historic Corn Hill District. The congregation is one of the oldest in Rochester, having formed in 1827. The Maplewood Community Youth Choir will present musical selections before the performance while the African-American Women’s service club, The Links, will host a cookie reception and thanks to a generous sponsor, the performance is free to the public.

Image courtesy of David Boyer

Image courtesy of David Boyer

Special Performances for School Children
Special performances of Walk the Walk for school children in grades 3 and above will be held on the mornings of February 5 & 6 at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance. This historic building was the location of Frederick Douglass’ funeral, and also stands on the site of an Underground Railroad station. Performances for school children include one-on-one chats and interaction between the student audience and the “Ancestors,” and help educators bring to life the difficult decisions faced by these historical figures. Interested educators can contact Boyer at Limited transportation funds are available.

The Landmark Society provides program materials for classroom use before and after the performance, including historic timelines, activity sheets on each Ancestor, and guidelines on appropriate audience etiquette for a live theater setting.  Post-event materials develop language arts and visual arts skills, as students choose from a variety of writing or illustration activities reflecting on their experiences. The activities help teachers meet NYS learning standards in language arts, social studies, and visual arts.

Started in 1996, Walk the Walk has become one of Rochester’s premier Black History Month events, bringing to life some of Rochester’s richest characters in an entertaining, engaging and educational theatrical production. The performance is a must-see for anyone who appreciates history, theater and the ribbons of experience that tie all humans together.

Image courtesy of David Boyer

Image courtesy of David Boyer

Walk the Walk is sponsored by The Links, Rochester NY Chapter; Bergmann Associates; Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation; Wilson Foundation; Guido & Ellen Palma Foundation.

Walk the Walk Reaches over 1500 students

posted by Cindy Boyer, Director of Public Programs

As we entered the last week of Black History Month, I was reflecting on the success of this year’s performances of  Walk the Walk: Encounters with Rochester’s African American Ancestors and the great work carried out by the talented actors and dedicated volunteers.


Photo courtesy David Boyer

We reached 460 2nd graders with the new ABC African-American History Rap version of Walk the Walk, and well over 1,000 4th grade and up students at the two mornings of the traditional program. That’s not even counting the teachers and chaperones!

Photo courtesy David Boyer Photo courtesy David Boyer

At left: cast of new second grade program. At right: cast of Walk the Walk school performances. [Photos courtesy David Boyer]

Also new this year, each student and teacher who attended a performance, received a copy of our award-winning Historic New York book (what one 2nd grader called the “big, fat, heavy, colorful book”).

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Each year, students and teachers send us their feedback. Highlights of some of the responses:

From teachers:

This program helped support our curriculum common core: fighting for a cause.
All of the actors were wonderful, the interactivity was grand!
I feel fortunate to have our students a part of this important program.

From students:

Bessie Hamm inspired me to do good things
Captain Sunfish did a great job telling us who we were going to see so we were not confused.
Austin Steward was my favorite; he made me feel stronger instead of weaker.
The best part was seeing the real emotions of the people.
Mary Jackson was poor but you can be poor and someone is still there for you.
The story that taught me the most is Bessie Hamm, because I want to go to college.
I think other kids should go to Walk the Walk because it inspired me.


Students from School 45 pose with “Anna Murray Douglass” [Photo courtesy David Boyer]