What to Know
- After Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, his friend and Broadway actor Robert Hooks started the DC Black Repertory Company
- When members couldn’t get roles elsewhere, they made their own, and its productions got rave reviews from the New York Times
- Oct. 18 is Robert Hooks Day in D.C., and it will be celebrated online this year
The founder of the DC Black Repertory Company, which helped Black actors get roles, will be honored virtually next week.
Broadway actor Robert Hooks was good friends with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After King was assassinated, Hooks wanted to do something to uplift Black actors like himself, many of whom had a tough time getting auditions.
“I couldn’t get hardly any of the roles,” former member Rev. Rhonda McLean-Nur said. “Even though I was the most qualified, there were no roles for me to get.”
“It’s always been a tough thing for Black artists to succeed in theater,” Hooks said.
Hooks founded the DC Black Repertory Company. When members couldn’t get roles elsewhere, they made their own. The company also offered free acting classes, and its productions got rave reviews from the New York Times.
“Our culture and our story is a human one,” former member Lyn Dyson said. “Our skin just happens to be a different color. We cry and we hurt and we have pains and we have joys just like everyone else.”
The DC Black Repertory Company dissolved years ago, but its legacy lives on. Many members went on to successful careers on Broadway or founded companies of their own.
“If an artist is successful, that artist has to give something back to the community from which he came,” Hooks said.
Two years ago, Mayor Muriel Bowser declared Oct. 18 Robert Hooks Day in D.C. This year, the celebration will be online.
In addition to Hooks, the celebration will honor Grammy Award-nominated all Black, all female a capella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock; director and choreographer Charles Augins; Washington Informer founder Dr. Calvin Rolark; and actor Mike Hodge. The event will feature live musical and theatrical performances and a discussion of systemic racism in American theater.