Centennial Dream Machine, Nonnie Egbuna, 15 yrs. old

Nonnie Christine Egbuna, author, spoken word artist, member of Authoring Action

Nonnie Christine Egbuna, author, spoken word artist, member of Authoring Action

“The only gap I will acknowledge is the one between my mother’s teeth—opens her mouth, tells me to be a dreamer.”

Dreamer.  I suppose that is one way to describe me. Though not always optimistic, I look towards the future with hope that it will turn out right. That all my human desires are not interfering with God’s plan . . .

But what is His plan for the city?

I would like to say that I was excited when Authoring Action got the assignment for the Winston-Salem Centennial. I would love to say that I eagerly spent hours researching and preparing to write a piece that I knew would be great . . . I cannot say that. I got word of this assignment at a very busy time and I initially slacked off—at first because of a lack of knowledge, then because of a lack of motivation to get the knowledge. When I finally sat down to write my first piece (I have written to race relations and the tobacco industry), I found that it would require intensive research. After reading my first—and what I thought would be my last—draft to Mr. Nathan, I realized that I would have to go further when writing the piece. After about three drafts and several notes from Mr. Nathan, I came out with a piece that I can honestly say is one of my best. Wren is constantly thanking me for being “on top of things.” Little does she know that to get on top of things, I started at the bottom and slowly worked my way up. But I am here now. It is time for Winston-Salem to get there.

“Yes, we have moved passed the days when Whites-Only Signs dictated the Black man’s mood. Nappy headed girls can live in harmony will silky-haired girls. African-American boys can skin their knees on the same gravel as Caucasians . . .”

. . . But is it really over?

I look around in awe of this City in which I live—not necessarily “oh my goodness; it’s so pretty” awe, but awe nonetheless—and I cannot help but wonder, God, you can’t be done yet. There is so much left to accomplish and so many hurdles left to jump over. But how? Are we not at a bit of a standstill? Is the same homeless man not still walking up and down Fourth Street, seemingly shunned by society? Is segregation not apparent in the way “cliques” are formed by race?

“The baton of civil rights has now been placed in the hazelnut hands of Hispanics, but race is still seen as Black and White.”

Sometimes I want to walk around Winston-Salem screaming, “Wake up people! This is the 21st century!” Movies are now seen in color, yet we walk around seeing the city in different shades of grey.

We must do better. You. Me. Everybody. This insane state of ignorance is unacceptable, and this lurking racism must be chased out of this city for good.

I have a dream that one day all these different colors in Winston will merge into one: the color of equity, which shines bright as a man’s first earned dime.

So yes, let freedom ring.

But so shall equality because the sound of harmony is just so perfect. (from Nonnie’s piece “100 Years: When Will We Learn?” read it by clicking here)

Au Revoir!

Nonnie Christine Egbuna, 15

Awedahcity Ensemble, Assegai


This blog post is part of The Dream Machine Installation, the result of a collaborative project to honor Winston-Salem’s Centennial (the 100 year anniversary of the towns Salem and Winston merging). The Project was made possible through an Innovative Project Grant from The Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County.


The prominent youth arts and writing group, Authoring Action, teamed up with the creative community collective, Imagination Installations, and local artist Wren Wilson to build a piece of art which would reflect on Winston-Salem’s rich history while capturing the youth’s dreams for the city. 


Each Authoring Action teen author chose an area of history to focus on in their writing, which developed over several weeks and was based on research into the City’s past. The written works were paired with photographs from the past 100 years selected from the DataForsyth archival project and photo collections of The Forsyth County Public Library as well as local University Libraries. Spoken word poetry, blogging and video outreach is also part of the Project.


The collaborating partners hope that this installation will inspire our community to imagine new possibilities for our city as we move forward together.


Imagination Installations is a grassroots project that collects and shares the dreams of people in our community using the statement, “Imagine When…” Interactive Public Art Exhibits, Imagination Events, and Imagination Team Building Workshops are just of a few of the group’s ongoing activities. For more information visit ImaginationInstallations.com


Authoring Action works with teenagers using the power of creative writing and spoken word to grow new world leaders and foster positive change in our community. For more information visit AuthoringAction.org


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