Many know the story of Lottie Payne Stratton (1902 – 1965), affectionately known as Miss Boonie, Lottie was the last known ticket taker of the segregated box office at the Historic Academy Theatre. Although our theatre lays claim to an incredible historic legacy of world-class performers, sadly, it also has a legacy of inequality and segregation.
Lottie was known for not only her kindness and compassion, but for also allowing access to the theatre to all, despite skin color or socio-economic backgrounds. Though Lottie is no longer with us today, her dream of arts for all still guides us and our mission of serving the community through arts and culture at the Academy.
To honor her legacy, the Academy awards the Lottie Payne Stratton award each year to an unheralded individual in our community who is supplying access to the arts. Our 2020 award winner is the outstanding, Phyllistine W. Mosley.
A Farmville, Virginia native, Phyllistine spent her childhood growing up in a smaller area with limited access to the arts. “Growing up in a small town there weren’t any arts or theatre for us and our parents wouldn’t allow us to go to the movie theatre because back then it was segregated,” said Mosely. “However, I did enjoy art class in school. “In high school, my art teacher had us draw a “fruit still life” and with that drawing, she entered me in my first art show at Virginia State College when I was 15 years old.” “My frame fruit painting hung at my mom’s home until she passed and now it hangs in my kitchen.”
Now retired from Virginia Cooperative Extension after 30 years, Phyllistine currently considers herself a professional volunteer, as she is on the Board of the Legacy Museum of African American History, Board of the Jubilee Family Center, Chair of the Juneteenth Coalition, and member of the Lynchburg Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
“Being Chair of the Juneteenth Coalition I’ve collaborated with the Academy for the past two years for our annual Juneteenth Festival and we are currently planning our 2021 event.” “I’ve also had many annual dinners in the Warehouse with the Legacy Museum of African American History.”
“I greatly support and promote productions at the Academy.” “When I was told I was the 2020 Lottie Payne Stratton award winner I was speechless!” “When I was told I thought, ‘Why me?’, but then I thought about Lottie Stratton’s actions and how she exposed youth to the arts and in that way, I feel a little bit like her.”
“I encourage parents to take their youth to the theater, enroll them in art classes, and advise them to get involved in local productions.” “The sole reason I invite and include youth on the Juneteenth Festival program, Legacy Museum Kwanzaa program, Juneteenth Historic program, and Delta Jabberwock Production program is so they share their talents and skills.”
“To me, it’s so important that youth of all ages should learn about their history, arts, and culture.” “My way of helping expose youth to those things is, I have provided tables for youth at the Legacy Museum Annual dinners, given tickets for youth to attend shows from Academy Youth Theater, and tickets for community service awards programs such as the Delta Mentor project, Jubilee Mentor Youth Program, and the Kuumba Dance Assemble to name a few.”
Phyllistine is known for encouraging youth to appreciate their surroundings and experience arts and culture. “When an organization or a production offers the opportunity to expose to the arts I tell them to participate, participate, participate.” “For years, for Christmas, I would give my grandchildren art supplies as presents and encourage them to draw and attend art classes. Today, my husband and I have our first portrait done by our grandchildren.” “For me, there is a whole lot of love for the arts.”
Phyllistine will be presented the Lottie Payne Stratton award in front of the Academy’s Board of Trustees on Thursday, February 18th.