By Free Press Staff: Growing up in a segregated Florence, S.C, a young Helen Chestnut often asked her mother why things were the way they were. Little boys and little girls her same age could not eat, play or travel as she did. She vowed as a youngster to dedicate her life to do her part to level the playing field. Her advocacy journey included participating in sit-ins and marches to the year 2020, where she is continuing her fight. Nearing the milestone age 80, Chestnut is a white, Christian, life-long dedicated republican.
“I’ve been republican all of my life,” she says. “It was the democrats burning crosses and doing the hate acts in my hometown.” She has grown more troubled with the current political climate as being republican has been associated with being a racist.
“It’s just terrible, I work as hard as I can (and have been) working my entire life and this political climate is so divisive and frightening,” she said.
In an effort to extend the olive branch in a broken society she recently launched a personal campaign to show ideology doesn’t translate to personality. Chestnut contacted her republican friends to launch a community cares campaign with funds benefiting the Stage Aurora Theater Company. The theater troupe’s history resonates through the city with more than seventy-five stage productions produced with local actors.
Since 2003, Stage Aurora’s mission of highlighting black talent is meshed with the staffs devotion and appreciation of the fine arts. The theater’s resume encompasses talent from every nationality, ethnicity, social status, and religious preference. St
Shown is Stage Aurora Executive Board member Jann Clark and supporter Helen Chestnut.age Auroras productions have produced stage plays from black playwrights August Wilson, Alice Walker and Lorraine Hansberry. To assist Stage Aurora’s continued efforts in highlighting the arts, Helen Chestnut and supporters raised 12k to support the theater’s legacy. Chestnut and the Donald J. Tump (DJT) supporters raised the funds to donate and support the theaters youth summer camp program.
“My colleagues and I heard about the great work this group was doing, and we are delighted to present this check to help the theater continue to achieve their goals, and support their summer camp program,” said Chestnut.
Stage aurora isn’t the only nonprofit of color to capture Chestnut’s eye. Her previous philanthropic embrace has been felt by the Ritz Theater an the Clara White Mission.
Chestnut has vowed to continue her approach of the under served despite what people may think.
“I’m not going anywhere despite what people may think and will continue to do my part until I die,” she says.