The Human Comedy

Fresno's own

Audra McDonald
Note: the greater Fresno community spans some 100 miles and is vastly rich in multiracial families and individuals

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Fresno California: Mclane High School
Note: the greater Fresno community spans some 100 miles and is vastly rich in multiracial families and individuals

Fresno's own acclaimed Oscar & Pulitzer
William Saroyan
Prize winning author. William Saroyan

Fresno's own

Audra McDonald

beautiful Audra
Beautiful Audra
Dr. Naomi Bennett (Private Practice)

A Delicate Balance
By Liesl Yamaguchi

Located in the beautiful California Central Valley, Fresno California has many "Claims to Fame." William Saroyan, for one. Another is Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald
A Delicate Balance
By Liesl Yamaguchi

Political correctness is dead and Mel Brooks is tap dancing on his grave. With his new megahit The Producers, Brooks burst that overblown bubble of euphemisms and shut the door on the 1990s. So now the question arises: what's next? A return to the stereotypes of the 1950s? Fifty years of history cannot be ignored. The challenge of the next decade is to retain a new cultural awareness without allowing it to blow out of proportion. Rather than highlight cultural differences with long-winded labels, the mission now is to look beyond the labels. But colorblindness does not provide the answer either, for it effaces cultures along with stereotypes. Audra McDonald, Broadway's first African American diva, lives the solution to this dilemma, gracefully embracing her race without allowing it to overshadow her talent.

Much of McDonald's poise in her battles against typecasting stems from the supportive theatrical family and community of her childhood. Throughout her youth in Fresno, California, McDonald performed at the local dinner theater, Roger Rocka's Good Company Players, and at her performing arts high school. Colorblind casting from a visionary director encouraged her talents in roles such as Eva Peron in Evita and Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. Today McDonald acknowledges this open-mindedness as very influential to her handling of race issues; she says, "I worked at a theater where people believed in non-traditional roles, so that was instilled in me from a very young age (Charleston). The road to success did not run entirely smooth, however, and typecasting confronted Audra even in Fresno. McDonald's mother Anna recounts tears over The Sound of Music, for which Audra "apparently didn't look Austrian enough" (Freudenheim). Even beyond the limitations that typecasting directors placed on McDonald were those of her parents. Born into a musical family, McDonald grew up under the careful guidance of two parents who steered her way from roles that denigrated her race. More tears were shed over Showboat and The Miracle Worker, two productions the McDonalds vetoes due to the negative stereotypes they perpetrated about blacks. Anna explains, "I didn't want my daughter seeing herself as a maid" (Freudenheim).

Though Audra balked at the time, she now acknowledges the wisdom of her parents' guidance. Throughout her career, McDonald has remained faithful to the guideline they laid out: never accept a role that degrades what you are, and never confuse what you are with who you are. The sacrifices along the way have only made McDonald's ascent even more incredible, for as the Los Angeles Times writes, "Perhaps what's most impressive about where McDonald is today is that she has gotten there very much on her own terms" (Freudenheim). From her early childhood, Audra McDonald learned to avoid stereotypical roles which emphasized her color above her talent.

From Fresno, McDonald moved to New York City where she studied at the famed Juilliard School. Upon graduating, she quickly discovered that she would have to work to prove her talent was large enough to overshadow her color; she was cut from the ensembles of both Beauty and the Beast and Les Miserables (Span). A small break finally came when a friend networked her into an audition for The Secret Garden and she was cast as Ayah. Although the job was a welcome opportunity, it did not signify any great strides in colorblind casting, as Ayah is a traditionally ethnic role. The real break came when Nicholas Hytner daringly cast McDonald in the traditionally caucasian role of the prim, New England millgirl Carrie Pipperidge in his revival of Carousel. The role had never been played by an African American before. McDonald modestly attributes this break to luck, recalling, "They were looking to cast Carousel colorblind, they just didn't know who or what. They wanted to make it a nonissue, and I just came along" (Freudenheim). Hytner's risk proved well-advised, as McDonald won rave reviews and her first Tony award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.

The struggle to overcome her color did not end with the Tony Award, however. Her next project, Terence McNally's Master Class, rose more questions of talent versus type. While singers such as Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price presented the possibility of a black singer in Maria Callas's master classes, McDonald's casting did not slip by unchallenged. Zoe Caldwell, who portrayed Callas in the production, "initially questioned the historical accuracy of casting a black in Terrence McNally's Master Class" (Freudenheim). Only after much persuasion by McNally was McDonald officially cast in the role of Sharon, one of Callas' Julliard students. Once again, she won a Tony for her performance, proving once again that talent can overcome type. Truly a pioneer in breaking the typecasting barriers of musical theater, McDonald believes change can only come through perseverance. She advises young ethnic actors to "Let people see how talented you are that you can take over a role and do it well. Put the responsibility in their hands. If you don't audition because you're sure they'll never cast a black person, then you'll never be able to help break down those barriers, or prove yourself" (Charleston). Already McDonald, only twenty-six at the time, was breaking down those barriers.

After two roles which pointedly ignored her race, McDonald turned in what seemed the reverse direction and embarked on two projects which specifically required a black actress. In Sarah (Ragtime) and Marie (Marie Christine), McDonald created "two fierce and decidedly memorable African American women on Broadway iconic roles for young black actresses, something rare until now in the theatrical canon" (Freudenheim). After establishing her talent independent of her race, McDonald returned to her roots and began to pave the way for future black actresses. What is remarkable about this transition, though, is the grace with which McDonald began to acknowledge her color. She managed to join a small political movement without retreating to a fringe. McDonald can embrace her race without alienating her mainstream audience, because her talent always comes before her political stance and her roles are never stereotypical. Only six years after her casting in Carousel was considered revolutionary, McDonald has helped make Broadway a place "where colorblind casting is common though hardly universal, [and] race may no longer make such a difference" (Span). McDonald has changed the way both casting directors and audiences view ethnic performers.

Following her six revolutionary years on Broadway, McDonald began to expand into the realm of film and television. Though she had already established herself on the New York stage, McDonald quickly discovered that racial barriers still blocked her way in Hollywood. Never one to back away from a challenge, McDonald won roles in Disney's Annie (Grace Farrell), HBO's Wit (Nurse, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award), and the documentary feature Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years. But the breaks have been hard to come by. McDonald's path, like that of all trailblazers, has been tumultuous, "because I don't have any particular role model that I'm following. You have to trust your gut with what is offered to you and what feels right" (Freudenheim). McDonald has found the world of film much more difficult to break into, even after her incredible Broadway feats, "because there are a lot more stereotypes in film and t.v. Not to slam television or to slam film, but you don't see a huge variation of characters when it comes to African American women" (Freudenheim).

Colorblind casting has not yet become a reality in Hollywood, and when Disney cast McDonald against type in their primetime remake of Annie, hate mail poured into their offices (Givens). While Broadway theatergoers probably would have swallowed the interracial relationship between Grace Farrell and Daddy Warbucks without protests [as McDonald herself notes, when Annie was released, interracial couples headed the casts of such hits as Aida, Kiss Me, Kate and McDonald's own Marie Christine (Henderson)], television audiences balked. By its very nature, film depends much more on the visual look of a performer than does the stage, so change may not come as rapidly as it has in the theater. But McDonald's attitude is, as ever, hopeful; she believes that if "there's a role you think you can play, go for it. You don't need to put limitations on yourself. Lord knows everybody else will" (Freudenheim). This attitude has opened doors to McDonald; Annie's director Rob Marshall declares that she cannot be pigeonholed because "Audra is limitless" (Henderson). McDonald defies all boundaries, floating freely between opera, Broadway, television, white roles, black roles, and everything in between.

Audra McDonald symbolizes the changing face of entertainment and America's changing attitudes towards diversity. As a prominent African American actress, "she is a symbol of hope for a time when roles will be given out entirely for talent and not just type" (Freudenheim). McDonald acknowledges this movement, saying "Today, slowly, very slowly, others are starting to come around in this business" (Charleston). Now an established force on the Broadway stage, McDonald must face the knowledge that her decisions will impact the future of musical theater casting. As Playbill notes, Broadway is changing, and at "a time when American musical theater is at a crossroads, all eyes have turned to the prodigiously talented singer-actress named Audra McDonald"(Henderson). McDonald acknowledges the weight of her career decision, but says she tries not to think about it, focusing instead on how lucky she is to be doing what she loves. After all, she provides living inspiration for young performers like the little girl who, upon finding McDonald at the stage door, declared, "I always wanted to be on Broadway, and my mom said, "There're no blacks on Broadway; and then you came along and I said, "There's one!" (Charleston). By maintaining a delicate balance between her racial identity and her artistic identity, Audra McDonald spearheads the next step in America's coming to terms with its diversity.


Charleston, Rita. "Knocking Down Doors Got Her to Master Class" Philadelphia Tribune. February 24, 1995.
Freudenheim, Susan. "She's Free of All the Usual Limits" Los Angeles Times. April 9, 2001.
Givens, Ron. "A Killer Role for Audra McDonald" Daily News. December 1, 1999.
Henderson, Kathy. "Playbill Online's Brief Encounter with Audra" Playbill Online. December 28, 1999.
McNally, Terrence. "Introduction". Way Back to Paradise CD booklet. Nonesuch Records, 1998.
Span, Paula. "The Aura of Audra". The Washington Post. May 7, 2001.

Carol Weyland Conner
Carol Weyland Conner

The Temple in Jerusalem

In the Bahá'í view the prophecy of the Third Temple was fulfilled with the writing of the Súriy-i-Haykal by Bahá'u'lláh in pentacle form. The Súriy-i-Haykal or Tablet of the Temple, is a composite work which consists of a tablet followed by five messages addressed to world leaders; shortly after its completion, Bahá'u'lláh instructed the tablet be written in the form of a pentacle, symbolizing the human temple and added to it the conclusion:
" Thus have We built the Temple with the hands of power and might, could ye but know it. This is the Temple promised unto you in the Book. Draw ye nigh unto it. This is that which profiteth you, could ye but comprehend it. Be fair, O peoples of the earth! Which is preferable, this, or a temple which is built of clay? Set your faces towards it. Thus have ye been commanded by God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. "
Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, explained that this verse refers to the prophecy in the Hebrew Bible where Zechariah had promised the rebuilding of the Temple in the End Times as fulfilled in the return of the Manifestation of God, Bahá'u'lláh, in a human temple. Throughout the tablet, Bahá'u'lláh addresses the Temple (himself) and explains the glory which is invested in it allowing all the nations of the world to find redemption. In the tablet, Bahá'u'lláh states that the Manifestation of God is a pure mirror that reflects the sovereignty of God and manifests God's beauty and grandeur to mankind. In essence, Bahá'u'lláh explains that the Manifestation of God is a "Living Temple" and Bahá'u'lláh addresses the organs and limbs of the human body and bids each to focus on God and not the earthly world.

The first Temple (Mount Moriah)

{thanks to econo lodge of fresno}

The Big Fresno Fair
The annual Big Fresno Fair is an event not worth missing. Complete thrilling carnival rides, shows, games, fun and excitement, this event is just one of the many found on this fairground throughout the year.

Woodward Park
Discover an amazing regional park that serves as one of the region’s most spectacular bird sanctuaries. With 300 acres of land, some of it on the San Joaquin River waterfront, Woodard Park is a must-visit destination. Find out more on the web at

Millerton Lake
A result of the Friant Dam, Millerton Lake is a scenic glassy destination that fills the soul with a sense of peace. It also fills Fresno faucets with potable drinking water. Come gaze upon the rippling surface of this pacific destination and enjoy.

From underdogs to wonderdogs
In a stunning performance of 2008 Men's Collegiate Baseball, our own Fresno State Bulldogs won the World Series for their first time, June 25, 2008. Sportswriters called the NCAA Division I season performance of the Fresno team a Cinderella story, a surprise. Good job, 'Dogs! Congratualations to you all.

Chaffee Fresno Zoo
Discover a Fresno zoo destination that is great for kids and adults alike. Visitors will also be impressed to find that it’s the only centers for breeding Asian elephants in all of North America. Find it at 894 W Belmont Ave. For more information, call (559) 621-5700.

Fresno Convention Center
Find halls, arenas, theatres and other excellent ways to host or attend a convention or concert at the Fresno Convention Center. Find out more by visiting their website

Shinzen Japanese Gardens
Discover an amazingly ornate and dreamlike Japanese Gardens retreat nestled in a 5 acres section of Woodward Park. Find out more by contacting the Woodward Park Japanese Garden at P.O. Box 16178 or calling (559) 226-8034.

Fresno Art Museum
Discover a collection of local, national and even international displays that highlight the beauty of artistic creation throughout a wide variety of cultures including Mexico and North America. Find the museum at 2233 N. First Street, or call (559) 441-4221 to find out more. Alternatively, simply visit them on the web at

Yosemite National Park
Enjoy the mountains, valleys and glacially sculpted wonder of Yosemite National Park. Part of the amazing Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite is a wonder of a destination that you can’t afford to miss. Find out more on the web at

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks
Discover the great outdoors when you visit these national protected lands. Be amazed by the crisp clean grandeur, the truly amazing natural beauty of it all. Find out more on the web at

Old Town Clovis
Discover the 100-year old past of this city adjacent to Fresno by visiting the exquisite Old Town. Complete with cafes, restaurants, shopping and more, Old Town Clovis offers fun for the whole family. Find out more online by visiting

So Far

Logo -- Thanks Mr. Patrick Wilson

McLane High School, in northeast Fresno, in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley of central California. Our area is noted for its rich agriculture, our hot, dry summers, our foggy winter mornings. The southern half of California's Great Central Valley, our terrain is flat, virtually without hills whatever. Yet mighty mountains are nearby on two sides, the beautiful Pacific is not far, and our local foot hills are just minutes away, to the East.

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From rs-lorenz-rdg

I come from a heritage with a certain amount of racial prejudice (a bit of red state heritage, partly). I married Lindy and she was in some ways ahead of me in seeing the good in minorites, and the beauty in black guys. It put me on the spot and I have to say it knocked me off my balance, seeing how God has blessed minorities -- and black guys in particular. Lindy spotted the gold on the inside. Society has treated them like crap, afraid, perhaps of losing its own feather bed, softy privileges. One day we white guys may well have to acknowledge to the black man (like in the British India poem, Gunga Din)


Scottish Naturalist John Muir - On Looking into the Promised Land

Looking eastward from the summit of Pacheco Pass one shining morning, a landscape was displayed that after all my wanderings still appears as the most beautiful I have ever beheld. At my feet lay the Great Central Valley of California, level and flowery, like a lake of pure sunshine, forty or fifty miles wide, five hundred miles long, one rich furred garden of yellow Compositae. And from the eastern boundary of this vast golden flower-bed rose the mighty Sierra, miles in height, and so gloriously colored and so radiant, it seemed not clothed with light but wholly composed of it, like the wall of some celestial city.... Then it seemed to me that the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after ten years of wandering and wondering in the heart of it, rejoicing in its glorious floods of light, the white beams of the morning streaming through the passes, the noonday radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of the alpenglow, and the irised spray of countless waterfalls, it still seems above all others the Range of Light.

Scottish Naturalist John Muir - "The Yosemite" (1912)

Hanford's Joseph Castro is new President of Fresno State

Hanford CA. native Joseph I. Castro has been named the new President of Fresno State

The Brothers Valenzuela - decorated USMC veterans
fighting the unlawful DEPORTATIONS of U.S. Military Veterans. (Where is our gratitude?)

Marines study (yes!) AGRICULTURE at Fresno State

Hammer's USMC: Links in our chain

Turning Point - with CSUF

When God created teachers

McLane High School (facebook)

C.L. McLane, the Educator (in Fresno History)
see the Brock Collection as CSUF

Matisyahu - Rasta Rapper (or Hasid?)

Blast from the Past : McLane foreign language

Gene Zumwalt - unsung "academic heroism"

FSC history in the shadows: Free Speech & the Mezey Case

Fresno Center for Nonviolence (FOR)

Jose Ferrer's daughter - in - law

Other Cities: New Orleans, the big easy

Other Cities: New York City, the Hillary factor

Other Cities: Washington, making of 'the city beautiful'

Embrace diversity : Chico State University

Cal Voter Helps and Resources : for the conscientious voter

Highlander Folk School : let freedom ring

C. L. McLane High School - Class of 1963

McLane Club (Sign Up on Yahoo - It's Easy!)

Fresno's McLane High School

College age more colorblind
more likely to cross boundaries for fun, relationships

Bridge-building choices are flourishing

bridge building

Obama Again in 2012

who was avro manhattan?

Robert Shepherd
friend me (facebook)

site creator Robert Shepherd

last save 12.23.11

Jesus Walks