"I have learned in my life to realize there are traumatic things that happen, that are really hurtful and painful, but even in the trauma, the hurt and the pain, beauty can be birthed out of that. " Reanae McNeal
Reanae McNeal, is an international performing artist, award-winning playwright, inspirational speaker, lecturer, oral herstorian, storyteller, performance art poet, musician (she plays over 15 different Afiican instruments),cultural/social activist, and survivor. She is the founder and president of Imani Revelations and Beauty For Ashes Ministries. Miss McNeal is the Honorary Board Member of the National Sexual Assault Resource Center.
Reanae has toured extensively internationally and here are some of her highlighted international trips. Reanae has participated in a political Roma and Aftican-American exchange under the East/West program of the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was one of eight African-American artist and activist picked to go throughout Hungry to encourage the Roma people in their political struggle for justice, human rights, and equality for their people. Her presentations in Hungary consisted of political discussions, organizing, and the singing of traditional Blues, Jazz, GospeL and Civil Rights Resistance songs. She went to Budapest, Szentendre, and Pees, Hungary. As a member of a group called "Call For Peace" Reanae received a special invitation by the Russian Ministry of Culture to represent the United States in Russia as a Cultural Ambassador in the Performing Arts. As a Cultural Ambassador in the Performing Arts she toured the many cities of Russia such as Moscow, Tver, Kestroma, N. Novgorad, Karan, Ulyanousk, Chebaksary, Yaroslavl, and sosenky. She performed Blues, Jazz, Gospel, and Afiican-American storytelling in the American Music and Dance Festival, which was sponsored by the International Arts Institute. Reanae has done a tour of Italy sponsored by the Black History Month Committee on A viano Air force Base. She toured Elementary Schools, Junior High Schools, and Chapels doing Afiican-American storytelling, workshops, singing, and praise dance. She also served as the keynote speaker for the Black History Month Kick-offin Italy. She toured the cities ofPordenone, Vajont, Vicenza, and Venice. Reanae has served as an assistant director for the Mary Washington University Literary class in Barbados. In Barbados she performed African-American folktales/stories and sung spirituals with the acclaimed National Drum Company of Barbados. Reanae has performed and spoken on Aftican-American women and violence . "at the University of Calgary and the University of Montreal in Canada. She did a week long residency in Bermuda under the special invitation of Healing Stage Productions. She did two lectures called "And She Survived" and "The Color of Violence". Reanae also did three one-woman shows called "Blues Women Don't Wear No Shoes", "Don't Speak My Mother's Name In Vain," and "And Still I Fly." She dedicated her residency presentations to Chena Trott who was brutally stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend at a gas station in Bermuda.
Reanae's poetry has been published in journals and she is an award-winning playwright. Her poem "A Word" dedicated to Dr. Betty Shabazz (widow of Malcolm X) was a finalist in the 1994 national Iowa Woman Poetry Competition. She has been published in national journals such as Sisters Across Cultures and Running Deer Press. Her play "Brown vs. The Board of Education" won the regional 1994 Texas History Drama Competition. Her play "Slave Shout," won the 1995 Texas History Drama Competition. Some of her many originally written plays and performances include: "Black Women In Transition," "Where Have All The Black Men Gone?," "Blues Women Don't Wear No Shoes", "My Soul Got A Bruise On It," "Trouble Don't Last Always," "I've Been A Woman", "And Still I Fly", "Who Holds The Mirror", and her acclaimed one-woman show "Don't Speak my Mother's Name In Vain" which deals with the herstory of rape and sexual assault of Aftican-American women. As of now "Don't Speak My Mother's Name In Vain" is the first and only play in America that deals with the herstory of rape and sexual assault of Aftican-American women. Reanae's plays deal with the many social issues that plague women such as: domestic violence, self-esteem, sexual abuse, discrimination, AIDS, sexism, racism, breast cancer etc.
She has served as a powerful inspirational speaker. Inspiring audiences to be all they were destined to be. She has been described as "the woman who transforms lives." Reanae shares valuable life lessons with humor and charisma as she takes her audiences on a journey into taking back their power in their life circumstances and situations. She shares her life of triumph and tragedy. She has been an awesome inspirational speaker for national conferences as well as a leader in empowerment workshops.
Reanae is a dynamic storyteller and self-taught musician who has captured the hearts of adults and children around the world with her Aftican and Aftican-American folktales and stories. She has been a presenter at The National Storytelling Prevention Conference. She interweaves her stories with the singing of blues, jazz, and spirituals. She also accompanies her stories with the playing of Aftican instruments. She plays over fifteen different types of Aftican instruments. They come from the countries of: Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria. Reanae has done many assemblies and residencies in schools, colleges, and prisons.
Reanae has lectured extensively on how racism, sexism, and cIassism playa major role in the oppression of women especially as it pertains to Aftican-American women. She has been a featured guest on national radio shows such as National Pacifica News, Women's Corner in Virginia, and Let's Talk in Oregon as well as a featured artist in the former So Journer Newspaper (The biggest women's newspaper in the country). Reanae has served as a keynote speaker at conferences such as: The National Crime Victims Conference, The National Women of Color Conference at the University of Oregon, The National Colloquium: Creativity, Censorship, and Power Conference (Reanae was one of the youngest speakers to ever speak at this conference), The National Violence Institute For Colleges and Universities, and I'll Make Me A World Iowa Arts Festival (As a honored Iowa Artist Reanae received a special invitation to attend a reception at the Governor's Mansion). Miss McNeal was also the Keynote speaker at The Stillman College AfricanAmerican Heritage Festival by special invitation. This is a honor bestowed on individuals who have made outstanding achievements as Afiican-Americans. Reanae has lectured and performed at some of the most prestigious Universities and Colleges: Cornell University, Dartmouth College, University of Berkley, Northwestern University, Princeton University, University of West Indies, University of Montreal, University of Calgary, and the University of Massachusetts to name a few.
Reanae is the recipient of many awards: Afro-Heart Award, Women of a Stolen Legacy Award, NAACP Appreciation Award, Aviano Airforce Appreciation award for Artistic Contributions, the National Woman of Achievement Award from Sisters United (Reanae was the youngest recipient of this award), The prestigious Delta Sigma Theta Ele' Award for Artistic Contributions, Overcoming Faith Award, The Hope Award for artistic contributions in making women aware of breast cancer, The Fayetteville State University Appreciation Plaque, and she is the recipient of the Quad Cities Art Fellowship for 1997, 1998, 2000. Reanae is on the TIlinois Arts Council Roster. She is also listed on the National Speak Out Roster for Progressive Artists and Speakers. Reanae is 1 of 200 people in the country who was selected to be on this roster due to her involvement in shaping and molding social change in this country.
Reanae's activism goes far beyond her speaking, lecturing, and performing. She has participated and helped Roma people to organize and stand firm in their political struggles against the violation of their human rights. She has actively participated in organizing around human rights violation against women, people of color, and children. She has spoken boldly against the false imprisonment of political prisoners, environmental racism, economic colonialism, slave-trafficking of women, sexism and violation of women's human rights, healthcare and women, women in prison, police brutality, the international destruction of "first world people", and the abuse of children. She is a philanthropist who has donated towards the advancement of causes such as: literacy, youth programming, spiritual upliftment, food pantries, and women rights causes.
She has been performing her latest play" And Still I Fly" which deals with AfiicanAmerican Women and Breast Cancer and "Reflections of Who Holds The Mirror", which deals with multi-cultural women and breast cancer. This project was done in collaboration with United Neighbors Community Center and funded by a Susan G. Komen Grant. She helped to organize women of color to participate in the Race For The Cure event that helps to raise money for Research and progranuning around breast cancer. She has hosted a national multi-racial women's conference called "Let The Healing Begin." This conference crossed races, cultures, and denominations. Reanae McNeal is a self-described world citizen seeking justice, peace, and love in the world for all humanity who are the unique and divine expression of the MOST HIGH!