A community tribute to local performing arts fixture and activist Richard Justice was held on Saturday, May 22nd at the Imperial Theatre in Augusta.
The tribute included performances by many local singers and actors who worked with Justice during his years as director and performer with The Augusta Jr. Players, The Augusta Players, The Colton Ballet, The Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre, Le Chat Noir, and The Riverfront Theatre Company. He was eulogized as an artist, an activist, and as a person.
Eulogies were given by Lonzo Smith II past president, Augusta Pride, Debi Agganis Ballis, executive director emerita of The Augusta Players, and David Johnston, a close personal friend. The Colton Ballet Company presented a video tribute highlighting Justice’s work with the company.
Richard Justice was an actor, director, arts ambassador, arts educator and entertainment promotor. He died last year of complications from the Covid-19 virus. Justice was also an AIDS educator and activist, joining the board of Augusta Pride in 2013. While on the Pride board, he conceived, planned and promoted the President’s Soiree and the Beats on Broad events during the annual festival.
According to Ballas, “no other artist has had the effect on as many arts organizations as Richard. He was extremely creative and a true visionary.” Johnston remembers him as “a light that we all gathered around. He had a natural presence, on and off the stage.” Smith says Justice “was impatient with the corrupt status quo, and did not tolerate inequality”.
John Hutchens directed the event with musical direction by Les Reagan, Jeannie Butler, and Lori Van Lenten.
The event was live streamed and can be viewed at http://vimeo.com/showcase/richardjustice.