RACE the opera - A real-life American superhero from Colorado Springs - CSPM

RACE the opera – A real-life American superhero from Colorado Springs

Frank Shines, Dramaturg of RACE

RACE the Opera celebrates the story of my Great Uncle Dolphus Stroud, who many have told me is a true American superhero, spiritually guided by the distant voices of his singular family. The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum’s  summarizes it best in the COS@150: Exploring Colorado Springs Story Through Objects

1930s Athletic Shoes. CSPM Collection, 2020.70.8.

COS@150: Kelley Dolphus Stroud

Using a golf club as a walking stick and wearing a sign “Denver to Olympia,” Dolphus Stroud walked, ran, and hitchhiked 1,765 miles to the 1928 Olympic trials in Boston. Despite winning the regional 5,000-meter race, Amateur Athletic Association officials withheld paid transportation and expenses given to white athletes. Both Stroud and his white coach L.M. Hunt agreed the decision was racist. Physically and mentally exhausted, Dolphus Stroud arrived at Harvard stadium just 6 hours before his race, and was unable to finish.

Dolphus, born in 1907 in Indian Territory, attended Bristol Elementary and Colorado Springs High School (now Palmer High School). In 1928, Dolphus broke a 25-year record by running down Pikes Peak in 48 minutes. With no college or club sponsor, Dolphus submitted his application to compete in the qualifying race for the 1928 Olympic Trials under the Colored Boys Industrial Club.

Two years after the Olympic Trials, my grandfather Tandy and great uncle Dolphus outpaced the same runners that beat Dolphus earlier. We can speculate that if Dolphus had received his earned right for travel funds to Harvard, he had a high probability of winning and would have gone on to represent the United States in the 1928 Olympics.

Perhaps, the United States wasn’t ready yet. In 1928, Kelley Dolphus Stroud and his ten siblings were the first generation born out of slavery. It was the family’s vision for equality that led them to Colorado Springs. Their father, Kimball Dolphus Stroud (K.D.), was born and raised on a Texas slave plantation during the Emancipation Proclamation and Juneteenth era.  At 19 years old, K.D. fled Texas for the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), where it was safe to raise a Black family without fear of lynching and discrimination. K.D. married Lulu Magee of the Creek Nation. Once Indian Territory was slated to become Oklahoma, a unionized state with Jim Crow laws, they moved with the children to Colorado Springs, where the founder of the city, General Palmer, promised non-segregated public schools.

So, imagine a world where everyone had an equal place at the starting line.

Dolphus ran for it. RACE the opera takes you on that journey.

The Dolphus and Lulu Magee Stroud Family of Colorado Springs, ca. 1920-1930. Generously donated by Lulu Pollard, S992.66.1.
The Dolphus and Lulu Magee Stroud Family of Colorado Springs, ca. 1920-1930. Generously donated by Lulu Pollard, S992.66.1.
On July 2, the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum was thrilled and honored to host the workshop performance of RACE the Opera in the Division I Courtroom. This opera, being developed by the International Brazilian Opera Company and members of the Stroud family, will tell Kelley Dolphus Stroud’s remarkable story, as never told before.
In support of this exciting project, materials from the Stroud Family Collection—a foundational collection in the history of the Pikes Peak Region—were digitized and shared with the creative development team. This important collection helps to reveal who Kelley Dolphus Stroud was, and what he accomplished.
Learn more about his story, and the impact that other members of his family had on our community, at the exhibits COS@150 and Any Place That is North and West.
To learn even more, visit the CSPM Archives.
Frank Shines wears glasses and a knit beanie smiles while looking into the camera.

Frank Shines

 Frank “Rio” Shines is a descendant of the pioneering Stroud family of Colorado. He is currently leading the development of RACE the Opera with the International Brazilian Opera Company (IBOC) to bring the untold story of his family to the public. His grandfather, great uncle, and great aunt are the primary characters of the opera. 

Frank, a former cellist, has trained and competed with Olympic athletes, flown U.S. military jets and traveled the world as an award-winning business and technology consultant with IBM, Ernst & Young and Pilgrim Software. Mr. Shines has been published by John Wiley & Sons and has self-published two other books.

Mr. Shines holds a BS from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado and an MBA in Marketing Statistics from National University of Sacramento in California. A Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, he is working at the intersection of human tissue biologics, digital marketing, robotic process automation and AI.