CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Producers of the Tony Awards have issued a warning to attendees that the June ceremony honoring Broadway’s best has a “strict no violence policy.”

The warning comes weeks after actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock onstage at the “live”
Academy Awards show

“I was sitting with my family, three of my teenaged children, and I asked ‘What just happened?'” said Rev. Sam Logan III, who is pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Chesapeake. “We all assumed it was part of the show.”

Unfortunately, it was not.

Logan, who also serves as a school counselor, knew that moment called for some explanation both at home
and in the public arena where he wears several hats.

Logan knew he’d be talking about “the slap” at the next meeting of Project Inclusion.

Project Inclusion is a leadership development program for future board members and leaders of local nonprofits and institutions.

“We teach board members how to better manage and resolve conflict,” said J.R. Locke, a United Way vice
president and director of Project Inclusion. “How timely, considering the steady increase in tensions in
public meetings as citizens and public officials debate sensitive issues as Critical Race Theory.

Alicia Wellons, executive director of the YMCA South Hampton Roads, joined the Project Inclusion class of 2022 after serving in the military.

“There (were) times where you’re confronted in the military for sure, where you cannot react even though you want to,” Wellons said.

“In my role, even now,” said Wellons. “I’ve been confronted by people who think they know who I am and they say things about groups of people and they don’t know what my background is [Asian, African American] so, I’ve had to professionally have conversations with them, calmly.”

Other members of the Project Inclusion class of 2022 say they know they’ll be challenged publicly to not take things so seriously.

“I think it’s important that we as professionals, and we as human beings, don’t lose our sense of humor,” said Deborah Harris, president and CEO Your Wellness Inc.

Kandi Hall, a Project Inclusion class member for Conduent, said the Smith-Rock incident reminded her of an old lesson that taught her to pause before reacting.

“We’re always taught that you never know what somebody else’s situation is that’s driving them to behave
the way that they do,” Hall said.

Logan says this whole episode is one we can take from the TV, boardroom, or street, and use in the home as he did.

“My follow-up conversation with my teenagers, we talked about the importance of learning how to match
wits instead of matching fists,” Logan said.

These Project Inclusion members will discuss conflict resolution and other leadership issues this coming Tuesday, April 26 at 6 p.m. in a Board of Governor’s Online Forum: “A Voice For Change.” It’s open to the public.

To find out more and to register, click here, or contact J.R. Locke, Director, Project Inclusion, V.P. Community Development, EdLogics. 757-853-8500, extension 134.