A Roundtable Discussion on BAYARD RUSTIN INSIDE ASHLAND 

This conversation brings together Steve H. Broadnax III, the writer and director of Bayard Rustin Inside Ashland, with Cheyney University Professor Dr. Matthew Simmons and long-time West Chester NAACP activist and Melton Center core staff member, Miss Renee Washington, to talk about Bayard Rustin’s strategies of nonviolence in the context of social movements today. Moderated by Leigh Jackson, Director of Accessibility and EDI Programming at People’s Light.  


Steve H. Broadnax IIIthe writer and director of Bayard Rustin Inside Ashland. Steve has been the director of Thoughts of a Colored Man (Broadway), Katori Hall’s 2021 Pulitzer Prize Première The Hot Wing King at The Signature Theatre, Lee Edward Colston’s The First Deep Breath at Chicago’s Vineyard Theatre (Premiere and Winner of Jeff Awards Best New Work), Dominique Morisseau’s Blood at the Root at the National Black Theatre (Winner of Kennedy Center's Hip Hop Theater Creator Award), and William Jackson Harper’s Premiere Travisville at NYC Ensemble Studio. He is an Ensemble Studio Theatre member and serves as the Resident Director at People’s Light Theatre. Steve is also the Professor of Theatre at Penn State University; Co-Head of MFA Directing. 

Renee Washington is a Life-Time Member & Executive Committee Officer of West Chester's NAACP Unit. She is a lifelong resident of West Chester PA, product of West Chester Area School District, and a member of St. Paul’s Baptist Church. Miss Washington works at the Charles A. Melton Center (formerly the West Chester Community Center) which will be celebrating its 104th Anniversary this year. The Center was founded by Dr. Leslie Pinkney Hill because there was no place for the Negro community to go.
"I carry on the hopes & dreams of Dr. Pinkney Hill, Bayard Rustin, and my West Chester Community for equal opportunity,
equal justice and non-violence for all."

Dr. Matthew Simmons, a Professor of African American Studies at Cheyney University. A native Mississippian who graduated with a B.A. in History from Tougaloo College, a liberal arts HBCU located north of Jackson, MS. Matthew obtained an M.A. and PhD in Africana Studies from Temple University. Research areas include Black Middle-Class non-voters in Philadelphia and their connections to Black resistance movements via Maroonage; Black Queer Theory and Black Queer Activists. Matthew loves working out, karaoke and reading.  


Leigh Jackson, the Director of Accessibility & EDI Programming at People's Light. She works at the intersection of social justice and performance art to widen the theatre's welcome. She is responsible for the theatre's Relaxed Performances, Open Captioning, and Smart Caption Glasses, a pioneering technology that allows patrons who are Hard of Hearing or Deaf to follow the script of a play through VR glasses as it is being performed onstage. She also organizes EDI conversations and training workshops for the People's Light community.