Alex Boyé visited BYU to perform with two MDT students in the recent “Stories of Life'' event.
The Marriott School of Business partnered with BYU Athletics to organize the event in celebration of Black History Month at the Marriott Center. Hundreds of BYU students, faculty, and staff attended to view the performance and other speeches.
The event highlighted experiences and stories from various black individuals throughout the community. It also introduced a performance from Alex Boyé’s musical American Prophet.
Alex Boyé describes the musical as Hamilton-esque, but instead of the story of the founding fathers it’s the story of our founding fathers in the church. The show tells that story from the perspective of three slaves who have been set free– Elijah Able, Walker Lewis, and Samuel D. Chambers. These three men were among the first members of the Church of African descent, and despite heavy persecution were key figures towards creating a more diverse Church. Today their stories inspire many latter-day saints to create a more inclusive and compassionate community. The “Stories of Life” Black History Month event was the perfect platform to showcase this compelling narrative of church history and black history.
Alex Boyé reached out a week prior to the event to partner with the MDT department, looking for two students to play Emma and Joseph in the short scene. Jessica Zaugg and Ben Jessop were chosen, and after a short meeting with Alex Boyé a few days before the performance, they were ready to go.
Both Jessica and Ben enjoyed not only getting to perform with a stellar group of performers, but also sharing this important story. Jessica shares, “I love sharing stories of the gospel. I’m also really passionate about inclusion and acceptance, and Black History Month is a great time to get involved with that.” Ben elaborates, saying, “It’s important to support awareness for the black community. I was glad I could be a part of it.”
Jessica shares that her favorite part of the whole experience was being backstage with the other cast members and hearing their stories. As they shared their personal stories of overcoming racism, the question was raised of what a single human being could do to help. One cast member shared that the most important thing was to “simply to practice unconditional love for all of our brothers and sisters.”
Alex Boyé shared, “It was a pleasure and a joy to host Ben and Jessica on the musical. They were both so professional and a pleasure to work with.” Both Ben and Jessica expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to be involved in such an important event and to be able to learn more about black voices in the LDS community.