The message was strong and clear: Young males need to pull up their pants and young girls need to know they are just as beautiful when they are fully clothed.
And it was a group of young people who brought the message, members of the Iron Barr Performing Arts Group, a non-profit organization founded 17 years ago by two best friends, Judy Barr and Kemba Gosier. They organized the group to reach out to youth through positive messages, while also giving them a vehicle to display their creative talents, said Gosier, vice president of the organization.
The performance, held Sept. 25 at The Church of The Incarnation, 1835 NW 54th St. in Liberty City, was part of Iron Barr’s Pull 'Em Up, Cover U campaign that was started earlier this year, Barr said. "We hope to partner with as many people as possible to circulate the skit. And we will bring it to any local church, school or educational institution to help spread the message," she said.
The non-profit organization began in Opa-locka in North Miami-Dade County, which donated rehearsal space, Barr said. Rehearsals are now held at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 NW 22nd Ave. in Liberty City. Membership is open to youth but adults are also welcome. The group is looking for a choreographer, she said.
Barr is a graduate of Miami Carol City High School in Miami Gardens and got her training in drama at Miami Northwestern High in Liberty City and at Carol City High. She and Gosier have had a love of the arts since they were in elementary school.
Gosier, who dropped out of school at 16, returned to get her GED. She believes her experience can be used to help make young girls realize that when they make a mistake they can pick themselves up and move on to something positive.
For the Pull 'Em Up, Cover Up performance, the pulpit became a stage, with Gosier and Barr portraying two elderly women, Ms. Bert and Ms. Mattie, as they sit on their porch and complain about a lack of morals among today's youth. As they are talking, a group of teenage boys walk past, wearing their pants below their butts. The two women are outraged but before they can come up with a solution to “save” the boys, another boy walks up. He is grandson, played by D'Andre Barr, of one of the women — and he too is wearing his pants below his butt.
The women are joined on the porch by “Uncle Frank,” who proceeds to explain to the boy thehistory behind the pants-below-the-butt trend. He tells them that the trend started in jail. “Hanging pants mean you are available in jail,” he says.
“Available for what?” the boy asks.
“To be used by other men…,” Uncle Frank tells him.
As the boy walks away, Uncle Frank yells to him, “Where you going?”
“I'm going to get a belt,” the boy replies.
As the boy leaves, the granddaughter, played by Sylvia Sterling, of one of the women walks up, dressed as a “lady of the evening.” When she is scolded for inappropriate attire, the girl gets angry and walks off, but not before she hears the words, “You should leave something to the imagination.”
When she returns, she is dressed modestly and attractively.
The women are happy. “Share what you have learned with your friends,” they tell her. “Let them see the difference in you.”
When the performance ended, the audience gave the group a standing ovation.
Between scene changes, the audience was entertained by the all-male D4C Dancers, a group of teenage boys who perform liturgical dance. The president, Luc Junior Chery, said their motto is: “We don't dance for riches or fame but we dance for the glory of God.”
If your church or organization would like to get in touch with the Iron Barr Group, you may contact them at 786-474-6830 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ironbarrgroup.com.
To contact the D4C Dance group, call 786-443-1406 or e-mail email@example.com.
Photo: JAMES FORBES/FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
It's time for some front porch family gossip a scene from the play Pull 'Em Up, Cover Up.