Our Mentors are extraordinary!

Project Director - Ms. Sharon E. Sexton

Ms. Sexton is responsible for the operation of the project.   Ms. Sexton wrote the program and is the primary person constructing the historical research. Ms. Sexton has been researching the African American Mysteries, The Order of the Men of Oppression, for more than 25 years. As a result, two monuments were built on the Detroit River in 2001 based on Ms. Sexton’s research. The American monument built on the Detroit side of the river is located in Hart Plaza, “The Pathway to Freedom”, and on the Canadian side of the river, its sister monument entitled, The Tower of Freedom is located in Windsor City Park, near the water. Ms. Sexton has also written, produced and directed an award winning historical video documentary, entitled, “Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, The Forgotten Legacy”, that outlines Detroit’s black history from 1701.

Assistant Director - Mr. Earl Gaddies,

Mr. Gaddies is an extraordinary photographer who also dabbles in video, and is chair of the Black Historic Sites, Youth Committee.  Mr. Gaddies will lend his photography skills to the youth as they document their experience.  Mr. Gaddies will organize the youth into a social media team who will post the activities of their research on the internet.  Mr. Gaddies will also assist in the administration of the project.

Dance Choreographer - Ms. Meida Olliverra

Ms. Ollivierra has been a choreographer and performer in numerous signature themed programs and presentations in ballet, modern, African, and jazz dance.  For this project, Ms. Ollivierra will create the dances for the presentation.  Ms. Ollivierra is also a descendant of an Underground Railroad agent and is a member of St. Matthews Church which was a safe house on the Underground Railroad. Ms. Ollivierra will choreograph four dance sequences in the final presentation.  Ms. Ollivierra will teach the youth the dances, will attend two rehearsals, and one presentation.

Vocal Coach - Mr. Carl Clendenning

Mr. Carl Clendenning is a native Detroiter who is a pianist of many styles including jazz, contemporary, gospel, soul, Motown, blues, and negro spirituals. Mr. Clendenning will teach the youth to sing the acapella songs of the Underground Railroad commonly known as Negro Spirituals. The Negro Spirituals were the coded songs and messages of the Underground Railroad.  The songs will be used in the presentation to show how the UGRR agents communicated with the freedom seekers.

Dramatist - Ms. Yolanda Jack

Ms. Jack is a superb actresses who is also a historian working in the Charles H. Wright, Museum of African American history.  Ms. Jack’s expertise in the field of drama as well as her dedication to telling the true story of history, makes her a perfect match to this project as she will teach the youth how to dramatize their story.  Ms. Jack will utilize her drama experience to help build a simple, portable, but meaningful set design that will further tell the stories of the Underground Railroad.