Storytelling Speaker For Colleges and Universities

Bobby Norfolk

An internationally known story performer, author and teaching artist, this three-time Emmy Award winner, and National Storytelling Network Oracle Award recipient is one of the most popular and dynamic story-educators in America today! For over 35 years, Bobby has presented a variety of keynotes, workshops and performances that promote cultural diversity and live theatre. He combines humor, history, special sound effects and lively animation to make each presentation unique and engaging for the college and university audiences.

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College & University Presentations for: 

  • Diversity and Inclusion

  • History and Social Studies

  • Music Departments

  • Student Activities

  • Black Student Unions

  • Theatre Departments

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Dreams Deferred: The Harlem Renaissance

Experience the Harlem Renaissance through the creative genius and brilliant imaginations of literary giants such as Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, and many more. Bobby breathes life into the poetry & prose of post civil war African American culture and literature! (Note: This program can be adapted to include a pianist and a vocalist too). 

Scott Joplin: Rags to Riches

Explore the life and music of an American original. This exciting program combines storytelling, live music, and hilarious audience participation to trace Joplin’s musical genius from an inauspicious beginning in Texarkana, Texas to the cultural capitals of the world. Join Bobby and a special guest pianist as they present many ragtime classics such as The Maple Leaf Rag and The Entertainer. Also participate in a fun demonstration of the cakewalk, one of the most popular dances of the day.

Shadowball: The Negro Baseball Leagues 

The Negro Baseball Leagues, a time when this country was segregated by Jim Crow laws, and America’s “National Pastime” wore two faces, the whites-only Major Leagues and the upstart Negro National League. In this powerful and riveting performance, Bobby brings to life an important but sometimes forgotten era in baseball history, telling passionate, humorous, and often unbelievable stories of exploits both on and off the field, focusing on the St. Louis Stars own James “Cool Papa” Bell, and the Kansas City Monarch’s Leroy “Satchel” Paige. Bobby invites his audience to experience the harsh discrimination, adversity, and eventual Hall of Fame triumph for some of these players. Historical slides and period music enhance this emotional first person performance, illustrating the clash of race, sports and culture.

Through the Eyes of York: The Lewis & Clark Expedition

York was the only African-American of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Despite his enslavement, York earned the respect and awe of many people. Performed in historical costume, this one-man theatrical show explores York's early life, and his struggle to be accepted as an equal on the expedition. Explore the exciting and dangerous adventures of meeting the Plains Indians, hunting the grizzly bear, crossing the treacherous Bitterroot Mountains, and seeing the ocean for the first time! This is the amazing story of a man first enslaved, then treated as a free only to be returned to the bonds of slavery following the expedition.

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A Ghostly Affair

Everyone loves a good ghost story! Join one of the best storytellers in the country as he scares, delights and frightens with his spellbinding tales of the macabre. Bobby is well known for his popular “JUMP” stories where he engages the audiences with quiet suspense and then, suddenly, the entire audience participates in a collective jump as he takes them on a spooky roller coaster ride.

Henry “Box” Brown

and Other Tales of the Underground Railroad

Henry “Box” Brown was born into slavery in Virginia in 1816. After his wife and children were taken from him and sold, he had himself sealed in a small wooden box and shipped to friends and freedom. He later traveled the northern states speaking against slavery, but eventually was forced to flee to Great Britain because of the Fugitive Slave Law. His narrative was published in 1849 to raise funds so that Brown could purchase freedom for his wife and children. Journey back to the historical era of the Underground Railroad in this theatrical reenactment of one man’s struggle for emancipation. Bobby explores this amazing story of an enslaved man turned hero, along with other tales of ordinary people taking extraordinary risks in the name of freedom.

Speaker Presenter Series

Hidden Heroes: Overcoming Adversity Through Storytelling

An invaluable resource for Education Departments and teachers seeking certification who aspire to promote creative and imaginative problem-solving showing the importance of mentors and role models in helping students reach their full potential. Through examination of the story of Bobby’s life-journey, this down-to-earth presentation illustrates techniques that help children take control of their own life stories and provides teachers ways to develop enthusiasm for listening, and a love for learning. As a child, Bobby was a shy, quiet boy prone to stuttering. He grew up in a rough North St. Louis neighborhood where many young men became casualties of the street. But through supportive role models and a learned enthusiasm for words, story, and theater, Bobby grew up to become a role model in turn. This keynote presentation demonstrates how he overcame the odds to become a world-renowned artist, author and workshop leader. His struggles and triumphs offer valuable lessons for parents and educators who aspire to help children to realize their talents and achieve their dreams.

The Moral of the Story:

The Case For Character Development in America Today

In this dynamic address, Bobby discusses in detail the ways and means that educators can empower their students to achieve character education lessons by simply having them understand the morals in stories, myths, folktales, and legends. Combining the wisdom of many cultures, he offers a multicultural pattern for curriculum developers to follow. In modern society, students and the general public are constantly being bombarded with negative messages: the need for alcohol, cigarettes and drugs are cool, violence solves problems; bad guys always win and good guys are nerds. Educators see the need to counter these messages with a formal curriculum in American schools. Bobby Norfolk provides to educators and parents suggested activities, lesson plans, ideas, and stories to help promote character education traits in the classroom & home. Common values include kindness; honesty; loyalty to parents and family members; cooperation, responsibility, respect and an obligation to help the poor, the sick, and the less fortunate.

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