Andrè Burrows had a powerful stage presence as he danced across the floor on his school’s gymnasium. Burrows was contestant number 13 in the Mr. W.M. Anderson Primary Pageant. With the guidance of Kara Nunu Parks’ choreography, Burrows performed to a series of Michael Jackson songs while changing outfits in-between sets. He was both exceptional and convincing and had the crowd cheering.
But it was his final act that will not be soon forgotten. Burrows, seven, and a straight-A student, began to talk about domestic violence, providing statistics such as every nine seconds a woman is beaten. He then made his way across the stage to a marquee and pulled away a black cloth revealing a portrait of his aunt. He explained to the crowd on November 11, 2014, Diamoney Greene was killed in a murder/suicide. He looked at the audience and stomped his feet. “Please, let us put an end to domestic violence in memory of my aunt, Diamoney Greene.” He ended his performance by engaging the crowd in a song. He was subsequently crowned Mr. W.M. Anderson Primary King.
Burrows has been dancing since he was five. He came up with the idea with the help of Parks who coached him in his stage presence and how to deliver his speech. His mom, Deondray, came up with the unveiling of the photo but not before some convincing. She asked her son what he wanted to do for his talent and he said wanted to dance to Michael Jackson. But he also wanted to include his aunt. At first she was skeptical but when Parks suggested he bring awareness to something she was convinced. “I had turned his idea down because I wasn’t sure how we would incorporate all that together,” said Greene. Parks turned his performance into a story but it was a grueling schedule. “Through this experience I wanted to teach Andrè a life lesson,” she said. “We wanted to win but that was not my main focus. My main focus was to teach him that whatever it is that you want, you must work hard for it because it will not be handed to you. There were many days that he was overwhelmed but what I loved most is that he didn’t want to quit.”
Burrows danced to “When I had you I treated you bad” and “I want you back,” which for him, was reflective of the cycle of abuse many women endure. He also danced to “Thriller” because his late aunt, who was a cheerleader at South Carolina State for two years then transferred to the University of South Carolina, loved the song. Her life ended at the hand of her boyfriend at a USC student living complex.
Burrows plans to continue to entertain and enter pageants. He’s been invited to several engagements to include a fashion show in Florence and a back-to-school event in Greeleyville. A video of his performance was also submitted to the Steve Harvey and Ellen DeGeneres Shows for consideration. Greene also hopes her son will perform at the South Carolina Victims’ Advocate Conference in March 2020. The family attends the conference each year.