"You have combined solid historical research, excellent dramatic talent, and personal charisma to deliver one of the best programs we have ever had the honor to sponsor."
Executive Director, Kentucky Humanities Council
"The story of Angus Burleigh is not a Black success story, It is an American success story. It shows us all that we have the right and the power to change our place in life, in history. Thank you for the lesson Hasan."
Director, Special Programs Berea College
"Hasan Davis kept our adult audience enthralled with his very moving portrayal of A. A. Burleigh. He is an excellent actor and has researched his character well... Many have said Mr. Davis presented the best program we have had at our library."
Director, Carroll County Public Library
Hasan's portrayal of Burleigh is another avenue for him to reach and motivate youth. Through persistence and self-respect A.A. Burleigh, like Hasan, was able to achieve far beyond the limits placed upon him by society. Because of the common threads that connect him and Burleigh, Hasan feels it is vital that Burleigh's story be told to the youth of today.
During Hasan's one-hour portrayal of Burleigh the audience receives a first hand account of the experiences and trials a colored man faced in the mid-1800's in Kentucky. The audience is exposed to history not regularly taught in the classroom. They learn about Camp Nelson Kentucky and its importance as the second largest mustering ground for colored soldiers for the entire Civil War. They learn about the struggle and sacrifices, of not only the colored soldiers that fought and died, but of the families of those soldiers who remained in bondage and suffered dearly. And, they learn about the radical abolitionist founders of Berea College who chose to challenge all of the rules that pertained to race, status and class in order to create a unique educational environment in which all people - black, white, male and female - have the same opportunities
"The Long Climb to Freedom" is the story of A. A. Burleigh. It is a first person account that explores the life of a man who survived slavery, the civil war and reconstruction. The performance has been built around available factual information about A.A. Burleigh and the circumstances, events and people of the Civil War. Although this is a dramatization, it is important that audiences understand that this is not fictionalization. The events and people represented in this performance were, and are, an integral part of the fabric of Americas rich and often painful history.
Hasan sees his work as an honest first step towards understanding, or even resolving, some of the stereotypes and prejudices that have taken hold in every community across our nation. Through the portrayal of A.A. Burleigh, audiences are transported more than one-hundred years into their own past and provided a first hand account of the pride, horror, fear and courage that African descendants experienced. The Civil War, while the single most well documented event in American history, has many stories that have yet to be told. Little has been written, and less taught about, the contributions, sacrifices and struggles of African Americans during that period. More than 186,000 men of color took up arms and nearly 40,000 died for the opportunity to defend a country that did not desire to recognize them as equal. Away from the battlefields, thousands of women and children of color suffered and died trying to realize their own dreams of freedom.
For many audiences, Burleigh is the first voice of Color to resonate from our bloody Civil War. Through his story of sacrifice and success, audiences, regardless of color, begin to see clearly that men of color were well represented at the time and place that has been recognized as "the defining moment" in Americas history.
The issue of race is still a prevalent and divisive part of our American legacy. When the historical presence of African-Americans is realized and their contributions are appropriately acknowledged, then it becomes easier for young African-American children to see themselves as the inheritors of more than a legacy of slavery, Jim Crow caricature and welfare. They begin to see themselves as deserving and capable of maintaining the position of equality that has been secured for them here in their nation. For white Americans, A.A. Burleighs story provides a greater appreciation and value of the diversity around us. His life example helps us all see that difference is something that must not simply be tolerated, but rather something to respect. Understanding the contributions that were being made by African American ancestors, side by side with white ancestors, allows us to recognize that many sacrifices were made for all of us to realize our unique American dreams.
"Very moving and informative, . . . convincing in his performance. . . . he brought tears to my eyes. I truly hope that this performance can be seen around the country."
"Hasan Davis, thanks for giving praises to the "colored women!" . . . You've portrayed A.A. Burleigh with grace and sensitivity. Better yet, you became A.A. Burleigh for us."
"A great historic and spiritual experience."
"Very enlightening and uplifting. WOW! It promoted so much thought in me. This should be a must for all students . . . "
"It was by far the best convo(cation) of the year. It made me think and many others Im sure."
"The imagery . . . was extraordinary. The speaker had the most amazing and powerful essence. . . The theme of unity carried me throughout the entire play."
"Exciting. Captivating. I have never seen such a truly evoking performance. Kudos."
"EXCELLENT! EXCELLENT! EXCELLENT! I was moved and touched by this incredible work and performance. I am so proud of Berea today, and my eyes filled with tears. Thank you so much Mr. Davis, thank you."