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“I Am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dream” Celebrates History Friday

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
“I Am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dream” Celebrates History Friday

African American actors from across the Upper Cumberland will take the stage for Cookeville Theatre Company’s original production Friday night.

Show Director Lori Jackson Strode said “I Am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dream” highlights the triumphs of black history. She said the show will remind viewers that the history of African Americans includes hope, creativity, and joy.

“The history of black people in America, first of all, isn’t separate from America,” Jackson Strode said. “Black history is American history. They are intertwined. There is not one without the other. They don’t exist separately. That’s a point that I always want to bring home.”

Jackson Strode said the production debuted in 2023, as the first show with an all-black cast in Cookeville since the 1950s. She said this is a great opportunity for African Americans in rural communities to see themselves represented on the big stage. The show opens Friday at 7pm at The Wesley Foundation Chapel Theatre.

“While there was unspeakable trauma and struggle and just difficulties, there was always hope; joy,” Jackson Strode said. “We thrived and created and loved and were doing. We were living life.”

Jackson Strode said the show will roll through snapshots of events in black history from different periods in America. Tennessee Tech alumni and students have played a key role in bringing the show to life, with a current student even in charge of lights, and another designing programs and posters for the show.

“Tennessee Tech has been very helpful,” Jackson Strode said. “Even to the extent of rescheduling some black history programs that they had scheduled that were going to bump heads with our performance. Anything we’ve asked for, they have been very supportive.”

She said productions like this one might be more common in more metropolitan areas, but a big piece of Cookeville may never have seen anything like it. She said she is excited to draw in the entire Cookeville community to learn about the heavy parts of black history as well as the joyous.


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