The Bobbie Owensby Marion High School Alumni Association Black History Club fund will provide annual financial assistance to the Black History Club at Marion High School to meet their needs in perpetuity.
In 1979, ten motivated students, along with Bobbie Smith-Owensby, African studies teacher, approached Principal Dick Persinger with the idea to start the Marion High School Black History Club. In this club she wanted to produce plays that would be performed on the high school stage for the community. That year the new club debuted its first production, “Purlie,” and continued to put on a show every year. Whether the plays have been well-established and published or originally written by Bobbie and her team, all of them reenact stories that teach African-American history through a fun, expressive medium.
Through performance art, Bobbie has encouraged kids to research, write, sing, dance and perform shows while developing awareness about the contributions of African Americans. To create original content as an artist is not only a difficult task, but to do it successfully for over 40 years is legendary.
The Black History Club’s mission is to promote excellence in education. Bobbie has accomplished this by exposing all of Marion High School students to cultural events and involving students in community activities. In addition to performing at the Ritchie Walton Auditorium every year, Bobbie has taken excerpts of her shows to the YMCA, Clarence Faulkner Center, Carey Services, Marion Veteran Administration, IWU and a plethora of churches and other venues to share with the community.
Bobbie has not only focused on the performing arts, but has also been a champion in raising money so that her kids can go on annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities visits. She has sacrificed much of her well-earned vacation time to chaperoning large groups of students to meaningful national landmarks and, on some occasions, places outside of the country. By doing this, she has given countless students opportunities to consider various colleges, travel beyond our community, and experience various cultures firsthand. Her passion drives her students to succeed and become positive role models in our society. Through her mission to inspire excellence, her program has spawned generations of careers like professional athletes, government leaders, doctors, performers, teachers, and pastors. More importantly, her strong leadership has instilled integrity in the hearts of a Giant Nation.