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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

Congressional Praise for Lorna C. Hill

Congressman Higgins celebrates Ujima founder on her birthday

Brian M. Higgins, representative for New York's 26th congressional district, helped celebrate the 70th birthday of Lorna C. Hill, founder of Ujima Theater Company, by extolling her virtues and accomplishments in a speech entered into the congressional record. The surprise testimonial also provided some cheer for Hill and her family during a difficult time, as the Buffalo theater legend has begun hospice care at her Buffalo home.

The statement, which calls Hill "a dedicated performer, director, artist, community servant and educator," proclaims that "her work and presence created an irreplaceable legacy that is felt deeply throughout Western New York and beyond."

Who could argue with that?

Happy Birthday, Lorna! You're a great lady!

The full text of Higgins' speech is below:

Madame Speaker:

I rise today to recognize the life and accomplishments of Lorna C. Hill, who is the founder of Ujima Theatre Co. in Buffalo, NY and has been a leader in the Western New York community for many decades.

Ms. Hill has broken all types of barriers throughout her life. She was the first woman accepted into Dartmouth College, graduating in 1973. For this accomplishment, Ms. Hill has been honored by the Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association and the Office of the Dean of the College with a celebration in her name. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Hill pursued her M.A. in Theatre at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1978.

In 1978, Ms. Hill founded the Ujima Theatre Company currently located on the West Side of Buffalo. Through the years, Ujima has been a center for cultural acceptance, justice, and racial equality, as well as a hub for artistic vision, especially within the African American community. Ms. Hill continued her career in theatre and the arts as a poet, playwright, and performing on stage, in commercials, and in television.

While operating Ujima Theatre Co., Ms. Hill continued to share her artistic and theatrical talents at the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts. As a dedicated public school teacher from 2008 to 2015, Ms. Hill touched the lives of her many students. Her passion for the art of storytelling fused perfectly with her role as an educator.

For her entire adult life, Ms. Hill fought for the rights of women and people of color. Ms. Hill is looked up to by many for her entrepreneurial spirit, service to Western New York, and dedication to cultural theatre and the arts. As such, she has been honored and awarded for her work by a multitude of local organizations including Buffalo Business First, Community Action Organization of Erie County, Erie County Chaper of the Links, YWCA, YMCA, Grass Roots, Inc., Zonta Club, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Artvoice, Arts Council, National Organization for Women, National conference for Community and Justice, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Buffalo Urban League, Inc., The Women for Human Rights and Dignity Inc., and Langston Hughes Institute. Ms. Hill's most cherished accomplishment is raising two children, Amilcar Cabral and Zoë Viola, as a single head of household.

Madam Speaker, I thank you for this moment to recognize Lorna C. Hill, a dedicated performer, director, artist, community servant and educator. Her work and presence created an irreplaceable legacy that is felt deeply throughout Western New York and beyond.


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