Sunday, March 7, 2021

Gospel Legend Richard Smallwood Calls Out Historic Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia for Alleged Discrimination

Richard Smallwood (Getty)
Richard Smallwood (Getty)

*WASHINGTON, D.C.  –  Legendary artist and Gospel music icon Richard Smallwood took to social media this week and demanded justice for Blacks after learning about alleged discrimination at a historic theatre in Philadelphia.

“I’m tired of racism and I must speak out,” said Smallwood, who has won countless Grammys, Stellars and numerous awards for his music.

Just last week, millions heard the classic “Total Praise” written and performed by Smallwood at the funeral memorial for George Floyd, the black man mercilessly killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, MN that triggered a worldwide protest.

Smallwood spoke out on his Facebook and Instagram pages all week, demanding justice at the Historic Walnut Street Theatre for Blacks allegedly fired at America’s oldest theatre founded in 1809.

According to Smallwood, a white woman named Hallie Hargus (See photo below) alleged a Black man, Ladarreun J. Taylor, was sexually harassing her when they worked together at the theatre a couple of years ago.

Hallie Hargus
Hallie Hargus photo: Walker and Associates)

According to Taylor, the two were young actors working in a theatrical production at the theatre and Hargus kept complaining about everything he did, including, his mention of the name “Jesus” or any reference he might make to his faith.  She also referenced a “noose” to him through a game of charades, he alleges, a disturbing reminder of the thousands of blacks killed with a noose and a rope by hanging for decades.

“She then went to management and made up allegations of feeling harassed and I was abruptly fired by the Walnut Theatre after a production without a full hearing or real investigation,” Taylor said, through his Attorney James L. Walker, Jr. of  J. Walker & Associates in Atlanta, Georgia, where Taylor resides now.

“This is another ‘Karen’ situation, i.e., the white woman in NY, Amy Cooper, who told a Black man she would call police and falsely accused him knowing the cops would believe her (Cooper) vs. the brother,” Walker explained.

“In this instant case, while we appreciate Hallie’s me a culpa moment and realization of her biases in her Facebook post, it is clear those biases contributed to a man’s job firing, several emotional and mental damages and we must make this right!  Right now she’s another KAREN.”

Hargus went on social media and admitted she had certain stereotypes about Black men and promised to do better, but failed to apologize, stating: “I would rather acknowledge that I do benefit from white privilege, that I have inherent biases based on race, that I have acted based on these biases and made sweeping judgments of people based on race- consciously and subconsciously.  I know that I have been a part of the problem, and I must be part of the solution.” (See attached post)

After a storm of criticism, she later removed the post, but dozens of people screenshot and saved the admission of guilt.

Ladarreun Taylor and Richard Smallwood
Ladarreun Taylor and Richard Smallwood (Photo: Walker and Associates)

Smallwood, a graduate of Howard University, speaks highly of his godson and mentee, Ladarreun Taylor as a true talent with ambitions of making it big.

“Ladarreun is an extremely gifted young man.   He graduated top of his class with honors at Alabama State and had dreams of being on Broadway,” explained Smallwood about his Godson.  “He’s an amazing singer and actor.”

Attorney Walker said the theatre had been called and emailed and no one had responded, possibly closed due to Covid19!

“First, I want to appreciate Richard Smallwood for reaching out to us for what appears to be another case of discrimination in our industry and for his courage to use his global platform to speak up for a clear horrific situation for a talented young man,” stated Walker, who with his legal team has won a number of very high profile cases throughout the country and has taken on dozens of fights in the entertainment industry.  “If more major artists and people, in general, do their part like Richard Smallwood, we can break the shackles of centuries of inherent and deliberate racism.”

As for the theatre, Walker said we will give them the weekend to respond and thereafter, move to possible legal action if these allegations are determined to be true towards the theatre and Hargus for her malicious actions!

“We will be reaching out to the EEOC, not just on behalf of our client Mr. Taylor, but on behalf of all Blacks and minorities who have worked there as the sons and granddaughters of slaves, who helped build these buildings and all of Philadelphia but were not allowed to attend the many great theatrical productions there.”

James Walker
Attorney James Walker

The Philadelphia theatre was founded in 1809 and there have been whispers about the theatre regarding blacks originally not being allowed to go into the theatre and decades of complaints.

“It is wonderful that Hallie has realized her biases, but we need her to realize her actions and how they have severely harmed this man and his career.  We need her employer to realize how horrific these allegations are and the need to fire her immediately should she still be employed at the theater and announce drastic changes if Black Lives Really Matter,” Walker asserts.

Walker asked anyone who has worked at the theatre or who knows of anything connected with alleged discrimination to immediately reach out to his law office at or on social media (@jameswalkerjresq)


Richard Smallwood, a graduate of Howard University, is one of the most iconic gospel songwriters and artists in the world.  He has penned songs that have sold millions and millions, including “Total Praise” that was sung at the funeral service of George Floyd and at the White House numerous times.   His music was also featured in the Whitney Houston-Denzel Washington movie “The Preacher’s Wife”, selling over 7 million copies worldwide.   He has been honored with Grammys, Stellar Awards and by the Kennedy Center among other honors.

Based in Atlanta, Walker & Associates is a leading firm in the entertainment industry, known for its litigation, music, tv and film legal work as well as business and corporate legal work! James L. Walker, Jr. Is the main principal of the firm and is admitted to practice throughout CT, GA and Washington, D.C.  He is the author of “This Business of Urban Music” and been a professor or instructor of classes and workshops at Harvard Law, Yale Law School, UCONN Law School, Howard Law School and a ton of others! He is featured often on CNN, ABC, ESPN, FOX and BET! He represents a Who’s Who of the entertainment industry and can be found at






Amber Smith
Walker and Associates
[email protected]



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