The Legacy of Lorna C. Hill

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"...and everyone in my world loved me despite the fact that I was not truly of them. I was rich."


This is the last line of “Geronimo”,  from Lorna’s one woman show, Yalla Bitch. A line that is quintessentially Lorna C. Hill, a beacon of  love and light for the 69 years she shared the grounds of this earth with us,   that love, that light was reflected right back to her. 


Today we celebrate Lorna’s 70th birthday and in that celebration we also hold the immense grief we collectively share because she is not here with us. This past year has been incredibly hard for us and our beloved community in a multitude of ways but we are reminded, through the memory of Lorna, that with love, with community, with purpose, and with justice we can see it through together. Lorna had an amazing talent of deeply and purposefully connecting with people. When she cared for you as a member of her community, a member of her family, you created a bond that was unique to just the two of you. As our communities begin to open up and we enter back into the world of connecting with one another, we must hold on to this simple but powerful tool of deep and purposeful connection. We at Ujima could not have gone through this last year without you all, our beloved community, a community that was built and cultivated by Lorna. She has left us all with the charge to take care of one another and that is what Ujima Company  is doing. We will put love and justice at the forefront of all that we do. We will  build our beloved community. We will utilize the powerful and beautiful tool that is the performing arts to tell the stories that need to be told. It is no surprise that Lorna’s impact has rippled out far and wide as evidenced  in the generous outpouring of support and beautiful testimonies that you all offered to Lorna. She will always be a force in our lives. Wherever you are celebrating today, love deeply for you will be richer because of it. Happy birthday Lorna, we love you. 


The Ujima Family

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Dear Friends and Family,

Lorna C. Hill, beloved champion for change in our community, has given Ujima Company members the responsibility to carry forward her vision of a community educated and healed through their art.


Ujima Company is not taking a pause. We are moving forward.

In her final direction to the company Lorna spoke of Love and Justice. Company members, new and many alumni members, are rededicating themselves in this moment to do the necessary work to make Ujima sustainable for many generations to come. To ensure that our grandchildren are also blessed by her work.

Ujima was blessed with Lorna’s physical being for over 40 years, guiding us through her vision, foresight and presence in the evolving world climate. Stories of African Americans brought forth to the world community through the stage touched the lives of all of us in a transformative way. How many lives did Lorna transform through her artistic vision? Through her writing, her poetry, her plays, her acting?  These messages spread beyond the theater as art was used to educate in classrooms, in the streets, as we became collaborators and activists with Lorna.

Lorna’s genius was that she saw our potential when we had no idea of our own gifts. Lorna blessed us with the ability to see ourselves and our own power as individuals in the community of the world. She was the ultimate leader and team player who provided dynamic direction that allowed the picture to be created by the actors, all the while expecting and inspiring us to think about it, to always be present. You DARED NOT let her jump into action because you did not receive her direction, which was always given with the bold truth and love. Direction often started sweetly with the simple word: “Team…”

Lorna gave us a strong and magical foundation to build upon – Ujima: Collective work and responsibility. Over the last year the Board of Directors, Company Members and Staff have worked on a strategic plan to evolve the organization. Little did we know that the strategic plan would become the blueprint to move forward without her.

The theatre company is stronger as we have engaged new and alumni members to continue to produce work representative of Ujima’s excellence and to Lorna’s standard. Our hearts break and make us stronger in our resolve, prepared to move forward building a team that is cohesive and in love with what we do and the purpose we serve. 

Honestly, a world without Lorna C. Hill is unimaginable. Yet, she gave us a vision to imagine and make real. Lorna’s spirit will never leave us, as we each carry her in our hearts.  Her love and passion were so plentiful that you could not help but feel it! She made us all want to do better and do more, and every day ask ourselves did we do better today? We will, with Lorna in our hearts.


Thank you, Lorna.


Now…… Team……

Shanntina Moore
Board President and Company Member

Lorna C. Hill BUFFALO, NY - Founder and Artistic Director of Ujima Company, Inc. for 41 years. Born June 25, 1951 at Mount Vernon, NY. Departed this life peacefully June 30, 2020. Dearest daughter of Ruby Byars, sister of Donna Mills, beloved mother of Amilcar Hill, and Zoe Scruggs, grandmother to Asa Hill and Solace Hill, and Aunt of Rikkia Mills. Dearest beloved friend of Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Bob Ball, and all of the Ujima Company Members 1978-present. A celebration of life is being planned and will be announced at a later date. To offer your sympathies during this difficult time you can send cards and gifts to Ujima Company, Inc. 429 Plymouth Avenue, Suite 2, Buffalo, NY 14213. For online messages of sympathies please share your condolences to the facebook page

In lieu of flowers donations will be graciously accepted at

Published on Oct 17, 2016

Lorna founded the Ujima Theatre Co. in 1978 to serve the purpose of beauty and justice. She has helped transform the city of Buffalo through her work, and this is how the 100% campaign celebrated her for making a difference.


100% NY