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Stories to Tell My Daughter: Storytelling Event Highlights the Personal and Lived Experiences of Black Women in Dubuque

By Clarke News  |  March 16, 2022
Teresa Zilk, Founder and Producer of "Stories to Tell my Daughter"

On Friday, March 25 a mix of students, faculty, alumni, and community women will take the stage at Clarke University’s Jansen Music Hall at 6 p.m. to share their true and lived experiences as part of Stories to Tell My Daughter, a one-of-a-kind storytelling experience that centers the voices and experiences of Black women and other women of color. The event is free to the public and is generously sponsored by the Walmart Local Community Grants Program on behalf of Clarke’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.  

Teresa Zilk, founder and producer of the event, says the idea for the series came from a dream she had while napping in 2011. “I didn’t necessarily know the format that it would take, but it was a compelling concept that I felt needed to breathe. I finally decided to make it a reality. In March of 2018, the first storytelling event happened. We sold out and I’ve been on this journey ever since. I have no regrets about literally following my dreams.”  

The March 25 event will be the seventh offering of Stories to Tell My Daughter and is the first time the series will be performed at Clarke University. 

Historically, the show has attracted not only a diverse audience, but a wide range of storytellers as well. They come from all walks of life; ages; professions; abilities; spiritualities; sexual orientations; ethnicities; as well as locals and transplants who have set down roots in Dubuque. Some storytellers have never told stories to an audience, while others are veterans of the stage.


The women talk about all kinds of personal experiences from overcoming illness, domestic violence, adjusting to new cultures, finding their true calling, to communing with their ancestors, and more. Some storytellers use humor, others infuse spoken word and poetry, so the styles vary as much as the speakers. Zilk said by giving the women the freedom to tell their stories in their own style makes for a dynamic show that keeps the audience coming back year after year, as well as motivates other women to become storytellers. 

Storytelling is how we connect and create empathy so that people can see each other’s humanity. All of us can be a witness to someone else’s experience. All of us have wisdom to share. I’ve made it my mission to highlight the need for this wisdom-sharing by spotlighting Black women and women of color whose voices have historically been lost to the mainstream.

Clarke students may earn Global Awareness and Social Responsibility credits for attending the lecture as part of Clarke’s Compass program. Compass awards credit for active participation and skill development through athletics, drama, student organizations, volunteering, and more. 

To learn more about this and other events at Clarke, visit