RETIREMENT TRIBUTE AND 75TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
OF THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF
DR. VERNELL A. WATSON LILLIE
May 20, 2006 @ at noon at Alumni Hall was the retirement
tribute for Dr. Vernell Lillie.
was a star-studded event in which everyone came out to celebrate
and honor Dr. Lillie's achievements.
Lillie received proclamations from Governor Ed Rendell, Senator
Jim Ferlo, Congressman, Mike Doyle, State Representative Jake Wheatley,
Councilman Twanda Carlisle, and Councilwoman Brenda Frazier.
were theatrical presentations, poems, remarks, video and music presentations
by Clifford Sykes, Rudyard Crichlow, Tiffany Ellis Butts,
Dr. Marta Effinger-Crichlow, Jamehl Lillie-Holland, Dean N. John
Cooper, Dean Richard Howe, Billy Harper, Lou Ransom, Chawley Williams,
Sala Udin, Ben Cain, Jr., Dr. Jerome Taylor, Woodie King, Linda
Hunt, Dr. Dennis Brutus, Dr. Wilma Smith, Dr. Jack Daniel, Dr. Ruth
Simmons, Alvin McCray, Renee Berry-Mack, Oliver Byrd, Vanessa German,
Nathan James, Dr. Marsha Lillie-Blanton, Charisse Lillie, Esq.,
Debbie Starling-Pollard and closing remarks by Dr. Vernell A. Lillie.
Ash Productions congratulates you Dr.
Lillie on your retirement and achievements. I am grateful to
have had you as my teacher and friend at the University of Pittsburgh
in Africana Studies. You made us think deeper about the African
Diaspora and many things pertaining to theatre, movies, and life
in general. You are a great treasure and have touched many lives.
We will take what you gave us and pass it on to others.
OUT THE EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS RIGHT
VERNELL A. WATSON LILLIE
in Texas to Walter Watson and Lillie Mae Watson, Vernell Lillie
began her professional career as a speech and drama teacher at E.O.
Worthing High School in Houston, Texas. She later transferred
to Phyllis Wheatley High School, where she taught speech and drama,
and also directed and produced plays through the Wheatley Stagecrafters.
She taught in the Houston Independent School District for nineteen
years. Dr. Lillie has been on the faculty of the University of
Pittsburgh since 1972, where she is now retiring from the position
of associate professor in the Department of Africana Studies.
is founder and artistic director of Kuntu Repertory Theatre,
which celebrates its 30th season this year. Kuntu has performed
locally and nationally for major universities and the American Theatre
Association, and internationally for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown,
South America. Some of Dr. Lillie's directing
credits include: The Buffalo
Soldiers Plus One, She'll Find Her Way Home, Difficult Days Ahead
in a Blaze, Ashes to Africa, Whispers Want to Holler, Mahalia Jackson:
Standing On Holy Ground, The Crawford Grill Presents Billie Holiday,
Zora: The Dark Town Strutter, Papa's Blues, Over Forty, Little Willie
Armstrong Jones, Two Can Play, Blues for an Alabama Sky, and Among
the Best: Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Homestead Grays.
Dr. Lillie was
honored at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
with the 2003 Career Achievement in Education Award as well
as a Career Award for Excellence from the Black Theatre Network.
At the National Black Theatre Festival and the Black Theatre Network
conference, members of Kuntu along with Vernell Lillie conducted
workshops with Vivian Reed and Malaya Rucker for young performers
and participated in six staged readings of new works. In September
2004, Dr. Lillie received the Demonstrating the Faith Award from
the Eta Creative Arts foundation in Chicago, Illinois. Each
year Dr. Lillie is honored and presented with awards for her tireless
efforts; her creative expression of the arts; her work with seniors,
young people and the community using psychodrama; and for her activism
as it relates to education and well-being of the African American
culture. Dr. Lillie has written and directed over 150
plays and collages in her career and has launched the careers of
several artists. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005
at the National Black Theatre Festival.
holds both the Doctor and Master of Arts degrees in English from
Carnegie Mellon University, specializing in training teachers who
train teachers. She has a Bachelor of Arts degrees in Speech and
Drama from Dillard University and completed graduate studies in
Education and English at Texas Southern University. In 2005, Dr.
Lillie received an honorary doctorate from Seton Hill University.
LOVE YOU DR. LILLIE