75-year-old to walk from North Lawndale to Alabama, performing one-woman show to call out racism

Jasmine Minor Image
Friday, March 29, 2024
Woman to walk from Chicago to Alabama, perform show to call out racism
Rachelle Zola is set to walk from North Lawndale, Chicago to Montgomery, Alabama, performing a one-woman show to call out racism.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- One woman is looking to put racial justice on the map through theater.

Rachelle Zola is walking from Chicago to Alabama, performing a one-woman show.

With just a circle of chairs, 75-year-old Zola, who had never done theater in her life, is calling out racism and changing the minds of those who have overlooked Black and Brown communities.

"This is a love story. I'm sorry I'm late," Zola said.

Zola said she was late to understanding the deep-rooted racism in America. The Black Lives Matter protests changed that.

"The signs are up there, 'Silence is violence.' And it's like, I didn't even know I was being silent," Zola said.

Now, she's silent no longer as she takes her one woman play: "LATE: A Love Story" on a 754-mile journey, walking from Theater Y in North Lawndale to Montgomery, Alabama. Her play tells the stories of conversations she's had with Black and Brown people.

"My total ignorance of not knowing," Zola said. "I never thought about their lives, their lived experiences, the trauma, the pain that they experience every day."

Zola worked with Theater Y Artistic Director Melissa Lorraine to create an intimate space for the show with a circle of chairs. They crafted the first act to vulnerably break down Zola's own ignorance as a way to gain the trust of the audience before sharing real stories from people of color.

"OK, you feel burdened to tell these stories. Will people of color who witnessed you doing this feel represented by you or feeling like you are taking the floor again?" Lorraine said.

Lorraine said finding a delicate balance helped get a positive response from the community as Zola prepares to walk.

"I expect there will be places that people say, 'Please just keep going, quietly,'" Zola said.

Still, she says justice for the Black community is too important.

"I'm asking people, are you willing to hear another story? And so I need to go to them," Zola said.

She is ready for whatever comes her way in the hopes her show will educate ignorance into a love for justice.

"I want them to know we're all the human race," Zola said.

If you want to see "LATE: A Love Story" before Zola embarks on her journey, she will be performing at the Theater Y on Saturday at 2 p.m.

You can also join Zola at the beginning of her walk. She leaves Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. from Theater Y.