Broadway's Woodie King, Vinie Burrows and Emme Kemp Profiled in Photography Book on Black Seniors

“A Generation Found: Precious Pearls of Wisdom" is available now!

By: Nov. 21, 2020
Broadway's Woodie King, Vinie Burrows and Emme Kemp Profiled in Photography Book on Black Seniors

Broadway veterans Woodie King, Jr., Vinie Burrows and Emme Kemp are spotlighted in "A Generation Found: Precious Pearls of Wisdom," a beautifully photographed coffee table book by writer-photographer Roohee Marshall that's dedicated to the wit and achievements of Black seniors.

In "A Generation Found: Precious Pearls of Wisdom," 40 African American elders from rural towns to urban cities welcome Marshall into their homes. These vibrant Black seniors ages 80 to 108 fondly share their life lessons, legacies and memories of family, community and culture.

"I decided to create "A Generation Found: Precious Pearls of Wisdom" because I began to miss the advice and wisdom that I had been receiving throughout my life from Black elders among my family and friends. I looked around and saw that the elders were no longer with us," said Marshall, who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. "There are still amazing elders in Black communities other communities around the country that stand out. These are some of the sung and the unsung elders that have made great contributions and the light needs to shine on them."

Some of the high-profile Black elders that Marshall spotlights in photo spreads and interviews are Broadway veterans. Actress and composer Emmelyne "Emme" Kemp, 84 is famous as a Broadway composer and actor for "Bubbling Brown Sugar" and as a protégé of Eubie Blake. Acclaimed actress and social justice advocate Vinie Burrows, 94, has Broadway credits as a co-star of Helen Hayes, Ossie Davis, Eartha Kitt, and Mary Martin. Woodie King Jr.,81, founder-director of New Federal Theatre, co-produced Broadway's "For Colored Girls," "Reggae" and directed Denzel Washington in "Checkmates."

"One of the greatest moments of my career was at 19 learning to listen to Langston Hughes and James Baldwin. Letting them talk to me and lecture me. They were talking about poetry and I knew that they were saying it better than anyone else in the room," said King. "I learned that you must continue to be present."

"A Generation Found: Precious Pearls of Wisdom" intimately photographs and interviews Black seniors ranging from scholars to entrepreneurs to social workers to nurses to actors to activists. Some of the seniors include physician Dr. Melissa Freeman, 92, who is still in practice. Clara Villarosa, 87, renowned for establishing major Black-owned bookstores. Educator Timuel Black, 100, is a community and political activist. Journalist and author A. Peter Bailey, 81, who was an aide to Malcolm X. Emeritus professor Dr. Acklyn Lynch, 88, continues to be an activist and expert on international economics. Marshall's father Rev. Elijah Lewis, 84 and her uncle acclaimed photographer Roy Lewis, 80 are included. "Uncle Roy is like my second father," she said. "He inspired me to be a photographer."

Marshall has retired from a healthcare career in Michigan's hospitals. She continues to be an independent holistic practitioner promoting healthy alternatives and embracing a peaceful balanced state of mind. Marshall and her husband raised their family of five adult children in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her daughter actress-model Maryam Basir has appeared in "Chi," BET "Holiday Heartbreak," "Law & Order: SVU," "Chicago PD" and "Mooz-lum." Her son, award-winning filmmaker Qasim Basir, wrote and directed "A Boy. A Girl. A Dream" starring Omari Hardwick, Meagan Good and Jay Ellis. MOOZ-LUM, his NAACP Image Award Nominated drama starring Nia Long, Evan Ross and Danny Glover, was a coming-of-age tale about a Muslim boy going to college around the September 11 attacks. Marshall was the inspiration of Long's mother character.

"I always encouraged my children to connect to the artist within themselves. Everyone has it," said Marshall. "That's something that I guess they were born with and were drawn to. I provided whatever they needed in order to pursue their dreams."

"A Generation Found: Precious Pearls of Wisdom" is available at, or call (734) 249-9984, or email