Remembering Tonquise “TQ” Evans ’03

April 20, 2021

The MBU family honors the life of Tonquise Jabari “TQ” Evans ’03, founder of the Kuumba Players and alumna mentor to many students. She died on April 5, 2021, at the age of 40 after battling stage 4 colon cancer since June 2019.

“From the very first moment that I met Tonquise, we became family,” said Andrea Cornett-Scott, associate provost for inclusive excellence and Evans’ advisor and teacher at Mary Baldwin. “When I think of all the ways that God has blessed me throughout my life, having Tonquise as a god-daughter is one of the blessings that I cherish the most. She always suggested that I was her teacher and mentor, but the lessons she taught me I will never forget. Tonquise “Lovely” Jabari Evans was a star and she will be missed every single day.”

Evans came to Mary Baldwin after graduating from a performing arts high school in Atlanta and wanted to help ensure that theatre students had the opportunity to experience diverse stories, voices, and characters. Evans created the Kuumba Players, Mary Baldwin’s first and only African-American theatre troupe, which made their debut in 2000. 

“She was the epitome of finding talent in unexpected places and coaching people to believe that they could do it,” Cornett-Scott said. “She filled our campus and our community with artistry, wonder, and optimism. Whenever she entered the room, the atmosphere was infused with Black girl magic; it was infectious!” 

After graduation, Evans returned to campus to serve as guest director for the troupe over the years, as well as helped Cornett-Scott organize Kwanzaa celebrations. She also led workshops on resume writing, interviewing, and branding for MBU students.  

The Kuumba Players dedicated their April 10 production — in collaboration with the African Student Kollective and the Caribbean Student Association — of the musical Brown Skin Girl to Evans’ memory. Last year’s Kwanzaa also brought current students, faculty and staff, alumni, and friends together to celebrate Evans’ contributions to the university. 

A communications major at Mary Baldwin, Evans had a special interest in courses on cross-cultural and organizational communication, and she studied abroad at Doshisha Women’s College in Japan. She went on to earn her master’s degree in human resources management, and most recently served as chief officer of diversity and inclusion for an advertising technology company. 

A mother of four and birth doula, she created a post-pregnancy legging with a built-in belly wrap and offered them through her company, Prende Pants, to support mothers after giving birth. 

Evans leaves a legacy across the MBU community through her generosity of spirit, her advocacy for being one’s authentic self, and her ability to build empathetic relationships. 

Here are some excerpted tributes from the Mary Baldwin family, and more can be found in Evan’s obituary.

“I will miss my little sista and the magic and joy she brought to every situation!”

— Lynnette Daughtry Barrett ’02

“TQ, thank you for being a light in my life. Many times you’ve spoken to me personally and publicly and have truly blessed me. I am grateful for the memories and jewels you’ve left us.” 

— Myracle Cash ’18

“I thank you for being the epitome of grace, photogenic brilliance, fashion, class, and a fearless free spirit. May your loved ones know we are grateful they shared and continue to share you with us. Rest in peace my friend.” 

— Sherry-Ann Ford ’05

“TQ is such a beautiful human being … She embodies the beauty in those around her and touches us in ways that last forever. I love you and will always remember your spirit. You will live within all of us forever.” 

— Joanne Harris-Duff, former member of the student engagement office

“TQ, I remember meeting you in the parking lot for your first visit to Baldwin. You were so happy to be there. Always a smile on your face.” 

— Roberta Palmer, former member of the admissions office