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Full text of "Encounter theatre as a means of social change and empowerment: a dissertation"

FOR REFERENCE 

Do Not Take From This Room 



LUDCKE LIBRARY 
Lesley University 
30 l\^ellen Street 
Cambridge, MA 02138-2790 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 
Lesley University, Sherrill Library 



http://www.archive.org/details/encountertheatreOOdavi 



Encounter Theatre As A Means Of Social Change And Empowerment 



A DISSERTATION 
Submitted by 

David D. Coleman II 



In partial fulfillment of the requirements 

For the degree of 

Doctor of Philosophy 



LESLEY UNIVERSITY 

May 28, 2004 



Ill 



Encounter Theatre As A Means Of Social Change And Empowerment 

Table of Contents 

' Page 

Introduction 1 

Chapter One: Defining Encounter Theatre: A Form of Participatory Theatre 

I. The Encounter Theatre Process 7 

II. Defining Encounter Theatre 12 

III. Psychodrama 31 

IV. Summary 57 

Chapter Two: Applications of Encounter Theatre 

I. Introduction 58 

II. The Use of Participatory Theatre in Addressing Social Issues 65 

A. The Deadly Gift: 

B . Incident A t Madison O 'Bryant School 

III. Encounter Theatre in Youth Outreach Presentations 75 

Bring in Da Noise. Bring In Da Funk 

IV. Encounter Theatre And Cultural Awareness 98 

The Mighty Jajah: A Jamaican Experience 

V. Summary 103 

Chapter Three: Encounter Theatre and the Words of Reflection Trilogy 

I. Introduction 108 

II. Words of Reflection: OverviQW 112 

III. Historical Overview 

A. Words of Resistance i\790-\S54) 128 

B. Words of Revolt i\850-\9l9) 137 
C Words of Renaissance {\9\9-\954) 144 

IV. Summary 146 

Chapter Four: Words of Reflection: 

Boston's Black History in the Making 148 

Chapter Five: Conclusion 259 

Bibliography 261 

Appendix A: Uncovering The Story Behind The Story 266 

Appendix B: Social Issue: Youth Action Movement The Deadly Gift 289 

Appendix C: Conflict Resolution: Incident at Madison O' Bryant High 348 

Appendix D: Ed. Outreach: Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk 368 
Appendix E: Cultural Awareness: The Mighty Jajah A Jamaican Experience 394 





Introduction 

While a faculty member at Roxbury Community College (RCC) in 1987 I was 
asked to put together a theatre skit as part of a birthday celebration for Ruth Batson, 
founder of the METCO Program'. At the time of the presentation she was President of 
the African Meeting House and a member of the RCC Foundation. Knowing of her work 
especially in regards to the African Meeting House I put together a collection of 
monologues based on three Boston historic icons: Frederick Douglass, from his speech 
What to the Slave is the Forth of July; William Lloyd Garrison, from his newspaper The 
Liberator, and David Walker, from his pamphlet An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the 
World. I portrayed Frederick Douglass, a colleague from the Social Science Department 
portrayed William Lloyd Garrison, and a student of mine portrayed David Walker. 
Afterwards Ms. Batson thanked me for the presentation and asked me a question that 
would prove to be a major turning point in my career. Have you ever considered 
developing this into a full play? My immediate answer was no. She then said, "You 
should consider it. Let's talk about it; I'll give you a call. We're working on a project at 
the 'Meeting House that you might be interested in being involved in." That project 
would eventually change my academic and career pursuits. 

The African Meeting House project was the development of an historical source 
book on its history. I wrote a play that would later be known as Words of Resistance as a 
companion to that text. Words is a participatory one-act drama about the history of the 
African American presence in New England. Simultaneously as the Words project was 
developing, I assisted in the establishment of several theatre companies. Black Folk's 



' METCO, Inc. (Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity) founded in 1966, is a private non- 
profit organization that seel<s to eliminate racial imbalance for Boston students of color by providing 
educational opportunities in participating suburban towns. 



Theater Company produced at the C. Walsh Theater at Suffolk University The Meeting 
by Jeff Stetson, and Zooman and the Sign by Charles Fuller. The Roxbury Outreach 
Shakespeare Experience (R.O.S.E.) founded by Decima Francis, got its birth at Roxbury 
Community College. R.O.S.E. for its first 5 years was our resident theatre company. Over 
the years Black Folk's Theater Company and R.O.S.E. have produced plays 
incorporating equity and non-equity actors. Most of Shakespeare's works have been 
performed by R.O.S.E., such as Macbeth produced at the Strand Theatre, King Lear 
produced at the Massachusetts College of Art Auditorium, and Romeo and Juliet 
produced at the Kresge Auditorium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 
Having these professional entities at the college had a tremendous positive impact on 
students' exposure to the theatre arts. These collaborations also helped develop my own 
sense of the distinction between community and professional theatre and their roles in the 
community college environment. All of these works in one way or another had an 
educational undercurrent, be it connected to master classes, workshops, or seminars. 
Students of all ages were not only afforded the opportunity to be traditional audience 
participants, they were also afforded the opportunity to have a complete tactile 
experience. It is the combination of these experiences which is at the core of what I call 
Encounter Theatre, a form of participatory theatre in which both the process and the 
product are of equal importance that I will explain more fully in this paper. 

Since writing Words of Resistance, I have written several other participatory 
theatre projects. While directing a summer youth program called New Beginnings I 
developed in collaboration with the students, a play about AIDS and adolescents. The 
Deadly Gift. During this project students applied for and received a production grant from 



Teens As Community Resources to produce the play, which was staged at Roxbury 
Community College and Wentworth Institute, our two host colleges. Also during that 
summer I took 15 of my 30 students in the program to an open audition at a casting 
agency in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a video project on teen suicide. Out of the 15, 9 
were cast in the video Listen Up! that was produced at WGBH-TV in Boston for 
Samariteens, a youth division of Samaritans, a suicide prevention organization. Currently 
high school counselors use this video in their efforts to address the rising teen suicide 
rate. 

In collaboration with students and community residents of Caribbean heritage I 
developed a Jamaican play. The Mighty JaJah: A Jamaican Experience, written primarily 
in Jamaican dialect (patwa). This project involved intense collaborative work with a 
combination of Caribbean students and community residents committed in making this 
project as authentic as possible in its presentation of Jamaican culture 

I have since expanded the Words project into a trilogy now titled Words of 
Reflection. I currently have several works in development all approached from the 
following dual perspective: a) the work although entertaining will have an educational 
undercurrent with a clearly defined learning outcome, and b) at least one segment of the 
production (development and/or performance) will be participatory in nature. Awareness 
of the power of these efforts to affect actors, audience, and community have come from 
various participants in these encounters acknowledging my approach as a kind of 
participatory theatre that I call Encounter Theatre. 

Encounter Theatre as a Means of Social Change and Empowerment is an analysis 
of the principles and application procedures for the use of Participatory Theatre (a form 



of Interactive Theatre), that is conceived, developed, and produced as an educational and 
therapeutic tool in addressing social, cultural, and political issues in varying 
communities. 

From my research on participatory theatre I have located several approaches in 
using theatre as a means of social change and empowerment. In these approaches the 
focus was always either on the process of developing the product (the development of the 
educational theatre experience) or on the completion of the product (the educational 
theatre experience itself) never on both. I am equally interested in both the process and 
the product; the process of developing empowering periods of engagement for those 
participating, and developing and mounting a product, the performance piece, that is 
equally empowering and engaging. The difference is that I believe the process and the 
product must be of equal importance, where all who share in the participatory theatre 
experience gain newer insights into the thematic issues presented. This dual process 
should stimulate the desire for all who participate to react in some positive way to a 
clearly defined objective. 

How can Encounter Theatre work as an educational tool? The objective is to 
empower participants with an understanding and a means of addressing issues and 
concerns that affect their community. There has been enormous work in the field of 
educational theatre concentrating on the needs of children; however little research has 
been done to address in equitable fashion the needs of adolescents. In this study I present 
a detailed analysis of how Participatory Theatre works as an educational and therapeutic 
tool in addressing social and cultural issues in varying communities in particular 
adolescent and adult populations and how my method of Encounter Theatre is unique. 



Whether the concern is bridging the gap between the generation divide, or working on 
fiirthering dialogue for better cultural and ethnic understanding, the main focus of my 
community involvements has been on exploring new avenues of dialogue between 
differing groups to achieve better cultural awareness. 

How can Encounter Theatre be used for social change? I will also demonstrate, 
by use of examples, how using encounter theatre works with various populations and 
themes and how the method is successful in achieving clear educational benefits. 

In my professional experience, looking at the populations that I serve, primarily 
adolescent and adult, I have discovered that the use of theatre has been a very powerful 
tool in teaching diversity, empowering segments of the population with the informational 
tools needed to aid in them addressing their own social issues and concerns. As an 
educator with over twenty-five years of professional experience teaching at all levels, in 
both traditional and non-traditional environments, I am always looking for irmovative 
ways of enhancing the educational experience of my students. In the process of my own 
discovery and professional development my students are key beneficiaries. 

As a theatre educator, I have over the last twenty-five years created a range of 
theatrical works that are designed specifically as a means of teaching cultural history 
through the joint artistic participation of both thespians^ and patrons. Participatory 
Theatre as a means of social empowerment is at the core of this body of work. Having 
performed these works in varying settings and communities and acquiring varying levels 
of success, I have come to the determination that it is time to assess their true academic 
properties from instructional and cultural as well as professional perspective. My 
curiosity of the principles of psychodrama and the connection of therapy, drama and 



' Theatre artists, actors devoted to the craft. 



educational empowerment is vital to my professional pursuits. Elements of psychodrama 
techniques can be adapted as useful tools in Encounter Theatre, but only those 
spontaneous elements that are transforming and enlightening, not those elements that 
stagnate creative vision and expression. The therapeutic elements used, as will be 
explained, are used as a conduit for artistic purposes in gaining deeper awareness of 
character and thematic intent. This study develops the main characteristics of Encounter 
Theatre and how they are seen in various works. 



Chapter One: 
Debiting Encounter Theatre A Form of Participatory Theatre 

I. The Encounter Theatre Process 

My theory for the Encounter Theatre approach is holistic in nature, where 
thematic objectives are discussed, analyzed, and agreed upon. Unanimous agreement in 
the project's objectives must be initially established before the project, or as I would like 
to call it, the encounter, can begin. My rationale behind this initial approach is that all 
participants must be equally accepting of the theatrical challenge; that is they must 
initially understand what role they play in the development of this project. They must 
feel that not only do they have a role in the project's development, but also all equally 
share their roles and the responsibilities associated with them. Depending on the manner 
that the group is initially formed; formally-as a classroom based activity, or informally- 
as a community based activity, in either situation participants must have clearly defined 
roles in the project that they willingly accept, even if these roles evolve into something 
else. In all of applications of the Encounter Theatre methodology, be it with youth, adult 
or community groups; amateur, semi-professional, or professional; all participants have a 
collective voice in the process and the product, resulting in empowering participants with 
the means to effect social change; this is the philosophical foundation. 

The Encounter Theatre concept has five main components: Pre-Stage, 
Developmental Stage, Production Stage, Social Change Stage, and Empowerment Stage. 
The Pre-Stage discussion in the process always begins with a basic analysis of purpose. 



^ I say evolve rather than change because I philosophically believe that change in a theatrical process can be 
damaging for it can derail the initial purpose; evolve in this context means to me that the initial purpose 
still remains however new discoveries are encountered and incorporated in the theatre process. Thus the 
learning outcome is enhanced not stifled. 



8 

The purpose that needs to be brought to the surface is what common challenge, issue, 
concern, and/or problem do we collectively share that needs to be addressed and what 
role will theatre play in addressing this need? Now posing the question varies depending 
on the environment. If we were in a school or classroom setting the parameters 
surrounding the general scope of the thematic topics would already be established. The 
initial discussion would then focus on narrowing the topic and to that topic attach several 
manageable scenarios that can later be built upon. In a community setting the 
discussion may immediately begin with a specific thematic objective. Often in 
community encounters their issues are empowerment and problem solving in nature. 
Their objectives are clear but the methodology in achieving those objectives become the 
task at hand. In either environment what must be established is that the issues and 
concerns of the group belong to the group and the role of this participatory theatre 
encounter will be in aiding the group in achieving those objectives. There must be 
unanimous buy-in to the process. In other words, the group must agree that there is an 
issue that is shared, and that collectively they will address it. The role of the theatre 
artists is in aiding the group in developing a viable professional, quality work that will 
through an encounter process (development and production) address these issues. 

The Development Stage has a two-fold objective: 1) address the concerns of the 
group through a continual engagement of discussion, processing of information, analysis 
of data, and agreement on choice of material to be used. 2) Instruct the group in the arts 
and crafts of theatre. From theatre design to production, the group will become 
thoroughly immersed in the disciplines of theatre. This two-fold process conducted 
simultaneously, establishes the educational process of discovery for the participants and 



9 

at the same time addresses the quality control issue in the nature of the type of end 
product that will be achieved. 

The Production Stage is a holistic approach to the educational theatre 
experience, where audience and actors not only share performance space; they are in fact 
intertwined in the production, often where there is no clear distinction made between 
audience participants and theatre artists. When the theatrical work is produced for an 
audience it takes on a much bigger role. The work is not only possesses of high 
production values, acting, staging, management, all professional in their approach and 
delivery of the artistic work to the public; the work also possesses and imparts social 
relevant messages that are enlightening and moving. 

The Social Change Stage is the evaluative process of both individual and 
collective discoveries concerning the educational value of the encounter. Self-assessment 
is done to determine the level of personal achievement. The individual discoveries relate 
to first assessing the value of the skills acquired in the process and the knowledge 
acquired pertaining to the thematic subject of the encounter. Assessing the level of one's 
acting skills is a continual process, but relating to these skills as tools used to impart 
knowledge is a unique aspect of the empowerment process. The collective value relates to 
group awareness of the power of the theatrical medium as a means of enlightermient. 
Connecting skills development (acting training) to teaching and learning (educational 
theatre) is the foundation of the social change stage. Participants have an epiphany - 
they see deeper meaning in what they are performing, some trigger helps them see what 
they are doing differently. Social change comes first when participants realize that 



10 

theatre is making a statement. Participants realize they shared interests, and in working 
together they effect social change. 

The Empowerment Stage is the metamorphic process of participants, both 
individual and collective, who have discovered that they have something to offer their 
communities and they are now equipped with the skill and knowledge level to effect 
change. From a purely theatrical perspective this is achieved by the direct effect that the 
artistic work has on the audience and the community. The empowerment change takes 
place as individuals and groups with in the community are effected by the encounter 
theatre process and they themselves become empowered with the desire to effect social 
change. The objectives in the encounter process do not change but evolve into something 
that addresses both the needs of the encounter group and those of the larger community 
equally impacted by those issues and concern. They realize that they can decide how 
much they want to put into it, and that they can impart knowledge and make it usefiil. 
They see the social change and experience the ability to lead others to see social change; 
learning for the first time that they have ability to present so much information in a short 
period of time. They take ownership and become empowered. 

The Encounter Approach comes directly out of my professional experience in 
teaching and my studies in educational theatre. Also the work of the Jamaican theatre 
group Sistren demonstrates this dynamic. I will use part of my own experience and 
various plays I have created through the encounter process to demonstrate its 
effectiveness. In this text the reader will discover how various forms of Participatory 
Theatre are used in academic and community-based situations. The full play texts that 
are discussed are also included in the appendix for reference purposes. 



11 



The Encounter Theatre Process 



Pre-stage Process: 

Agreement 

Equals 

Collective Consensus 


Discussion in the Pre-Stage Process always 
begins with a basic analysis of purpose. The 
purpose that needs to be brought to the surface 
is what common challenge, issue, concern, 
and/or problem do we collectively share that 
needs to be addressed and what role will 
theatre play in addressing this need? 


Development Process: 

Theme Driven Play Development & 

Theatre Training Skills Development 

Equals 

Creation of Product (The Process) 


The Development Process has a two-fold 
objective: 1) address the concerns of the group 
through a continual engagement of discussion, 
processing of information, analysis of data, and 
agreement on choice of material to be used, and 
2) instruct the group in the arts and crafts of 
theatre. 


Production Process: 

Artists and Audience Share Space 

Equals 

Performance (The Product) 


The Production Process has a holistic approach 
to the educational theatre experience, where 
audience and actors not only share performance 
space; they are in fact intertwined in the 
production, often where there is no clear 
distinction made between audience participants 
and theatre artists. 


Social Change Process: 

Individual & Collective Discoveries 

Equals 

Purpose 


The Social Change Process is the evaluative 
process of both individual and collective 
discoveries concerning the educational value of 
the encounter. 


Empowerment Process: 

Individual & Collective Action 

Equals 

Effecting Social change 


The Empowerment Process is the final process 
where change takes place as individuals and 
groups within the community are effected by 
the encounter theatre process and they 
themselves become empowered with the desire 
to effect social change. 



12 

II. Defining Encounter Theatre 

Certain aspects of my education began at different periods in my life and have led 
to my current focus on Encounter Theatre. While a youth growing up in Roxbury, the 
heart of the African American community in Boston, I was exposed to various aspects of 
the visual arts, which have had a profound impact on my life. I think to a large degree this 
was due to my older brothers' influence. Leroy, a portrait artist whose medium was 
pastels, would periodically allow me to observe some of his work. My family did not 
particularly care for his art and thought his artistic pursuits were unrealistic. Often 
growing up I would hear comments such as, "Why don't you take the civil service exam 
[meaning for a young black man to have stability he needed to get a 'real job' that in their 
view had a future- that is, benefits, retirement, etc.]. I at times, when my brother was 
between jobs and often would come home to stay a few days to get back on his feet, 
would agree with them. This caused some periodic tension between us. You see he was 
twenty years older than I and often times I would criticize things about him I was too 
young to really understand, things about the world in which he and I both lived, a world 
where you were made quite aware of your uniqueness and difference, that being African- 
American. 

Racism came at an early age. When I was six years old I remember playing 
kickball in the street in front of the apartment building I lived in a run -down tenement 
situated on a side street across from a fire station, down the street from the 'projects'"* and 
two blocks from the transit station. A patrol car came down the street, and we kids moved 
to one side to let the car pass. As the car was passing, I greeted cheerfully the white 



Low income housing development. 



13 

.» 
police officer driving the car. "Hi, officer!" I recall saying expecting an equally cheerful 

response. In school 1 remembered a friendly officer saying to us during one of those 
'safety days' "A police officer is your best friend." I didn't expect what followed. "Get 
out of the street you little black bastard." The officer responded. I froze there in the street 
as the car drove away, numbed by what I had experienced. I remember that face, a non- 
descriptive but familiar face resembling many racist people that in the course of my life 
would cross my path. I looked over to the front stoop to my house where my father and 
uncle were sitting. Rather than explain to them what had happened, I decided to keep it 
to myself I didn't know it then but the internalized anger I felt that day would remain 
with me for the rest of my life. 

I grew up in the 60's witnessing many events of the Civil Rights Movement first 
hand. Like many I remember John F. Kennedy (JFK)'s assassination vividly. On that 
day in 1963, 1 was sent home from school. 1 recall watching the news reports on 
television. This was for me the beginning of my mediated education. A few years later, 
Malcolm X died, then Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK), then Robert F. Kennedy (RFK), 
and in between other people and events that had major impact on all our lives. Television 
was to become an important medium in educational instruction. 

It was in the fifth grade that I first became really interested in school and the idea 
of becoming a teacher was implanted. My teacher Ms. Lizzot was a high-energy person. 
At my school. Dearborn Middle and Junior high School, they had recently made minor 
physical improvements, which involved removing from all the classrooms all the old oak 
and cast iron desks and chairs that were bolted to the floors, painted the walls and 
replacing the furniture with steel legged, and composite-topped furniture. Aesthetically 



14 

the only major difference I noticed was that for the first time you could actually move 
your seat. Most teachers being creatures of habit merely arranged the new furniture in 
the same arrangement as the original immovable ones they replaced. Not Ms. Lizzot. 

One day she arranged the seats into small groups of five or six in a U shaped 
pattern with the open side of the U facing the blackboard. She sectioned off the left side 
of the blackboard and made a grid that reflected each group and students in it. That day 
she had us choose where we wanted to sit but told us each marking period we would 
change groups. Afterwards we awkwardly took our new seats. She asked us to name our 
group. A little puzzled we began naming do wop groups,^ birds, sports teams, etc. It was 
all right for her. She said, "You decide as a group what your name will be and I will write 
it on the board." From then on our lessons became a group not an individual effort. Each 
lesson she would give a particular point value and the scores were recorded on the 
blackboard. At the end of the marking period the group with the highest score would be 
able to pick from the prizes first, the group coming in second would pick second, and so 
on. After a while we students really got into it, and it became a game, it was fun. During 
the course of the marking period we would see our group scores rise and rise. At the end 
of the marking period, true to her word she came in with a huge (firom a kid's point of 
view) box of all kinds of prizes. There were pencil boxes, flash cards, puzzles, books, 
etc. I later found out that she purchased all of the items on her own. Some would think 
that the learning was made too competitive, not true. Assessing the prizes they were all 
equal in value and on the whole the class was actively engaged in the process of learning. 



^ Ensemble vocal groups of the 1950's and 1960's which specialized in Rhythm and Blue vocal harmonies 
covering the range from falsetto and first tenor down to baritone and bass. 



15 

In addition to this unique approach, Ms. Lizzot never shied away from a question. 
I remember when someone asked her what the Montgomery Bus Boycott was about. 
Instead of giving us a lecture about it, she had us arrange the seats in a row and said, "I 
will be the bus driver." After giving us only a brief geographical understanding of where 
Montgomery, Alabama was she said, "OK you can board the bus now." As we filed past 
her she told each individual black child, "Black in the back," in a very strong stem voice. 
To the few white students in my class she said, "Sit where you like." At first it was 
strange and from a juvenile perspective we giggled for a moment. But as we sat there in 
this row with my few white classmates sitting alone near the teacher while all of us were 
either sitting or standing in the back, she looked at us and said. "This is what the bus 
boycott is about. The city won't allow Afro-Americans to sit anywhere they please. 
They must sit in the back, and if a white patron gets on the bus and needs a seat a black 
passenger must give up his seat." 1 vividly remember that day and I appreciate the way 
this important event in history was taught to us by the use of Participatory Theatre. 

The Encounter Theatre Process shows the impact of how through the use of 
participatory theatre one's own social change empowers them to then effect social 
change on others. The desire to become a teacher was bom in that classroom activity. 
This desire had remained with me today and has shaped the direction of my professional 
life. To demonstrate then how this lesson translates easily into the Encounter Theatre 
Process model, 1 have developed the following diagram: 



16 



Montgomery Bus Boycott Participatory Theatre Lesson 



Pre-stage Process: 


She gained collective consensus by giving 
us the necessary background information 
and stated the process that she would take 
through to better understand the subject. 


Development Process: 


She engaged us in the process of setting the 
stage and then actively participating in the 
development of the production by having 
us individually or in pairs enter the playing 
space and through improvisation develop 
the product- the scenario. 


Production Process: 


Through staging the production we began 
to experience the performance taking shape 
as Ms. Lizzot -the teacher now actress- 
maintained character as the bus driver, 
which established each child upon entering 
as actor/actress performing a role entering 
the bus as a patron. Thus giving the 
production professional structure, adhering 
to professional theatrical principles. 


Social Change Process: 


She enlightened us with the understanding 
of how wrong certain laws and city 
ordinances were, how this particular one 
was beneficial to some at the expense of 
others, and what was being done to change 
this situation. 


Empowerment Process: 


Individual and collective action took place 
after this encounter. Collectively the class 
effected social change in its response to 
this issue via the products produced from 
the lesson experienced. Be it illustrations 
or written responses produced and 
displayed, the class no longer looked at this 
subject from an uninformed and non- 
responsive stance. Individually she 
inspired me to want to become a teacher 
like she was, someone who can make 
learning enjoyable, enlightening, and 
inspiring. 



' This diagram shows how my fifth grade learning experience fits well in the Encounter Theatre model. 



17 

Ms. Lizzot's participatory theatre efforts helped me learn that such an educational 
approach that is multicultural and social-reconstructionist can benefit from the use of 
participatory theatre. Ms. Lizzot's interactive theatre experience was one of the 
influences that led to my Encounter Theatre; other important influences are participatory 
theatre, drama for empowerment, and psychodrama. The focused goal of Drama for 
Empowerment, an aspect of participatory theatre, is focused on the process of discovery. 
In this process the individual or community takes ownership of one's destiny with the 
final product being something that effects change. After reading Race, Class, Gender, 
and Disability in the Classroom by Carl Grant and Christine Sleeter my views about the 
power of participatory theatre were reinforced. Using participatory theatre as a means of 
social change and empowerment in multicultural education is most effective in 
empowering the traditionally powerless. In this section I will draw from the works of 
Augusto Boal, Pru Lambert and others to introduce my views on how Drama for 
Empowerment, and Theatre in Education are powerful teaching mediums and how 
Encounter Theatre incorporates the essence of both methodologies to produce an 
dramatically new educational theatre pedagogy. 

In the Drama for Empowerment methodology it is not crucial that the details of 
the mechanics of acting, playwriting, and production be thoroughly developed. It is the 
essence of theatre and the spirit of its form and function, as a teaching medium, that is at 
the heart of the experience. When one (either group or individual) can process various 
experiences or situations, via creating scenarios, it is quite possible for them to arrive at a 
concrete and viable resolve in which violent confrontations and/or negative consequences 
are avoided. This teaching methodology is excellent in a multicultural and social- 



18 

* 
reconstructionist approach where harmony, group trust and respect are coupled with a 

pohtical and social awareness of individuality, what it means to be different, and the 

development of critical and analytical tools needed to understand and appreciate the 

difference. What separates this from traditional educational approaches is that it is not 

teaching the disenfranchised to assimilate into the dominant society but to heighten their 

awareness of the continual process one must work through to achieve societal 

acceptability without sacrificing identity. 

Largely since the Second World War, a genuinely new concept of Drama 

as an educational tool has emerged. Pioneered by Peter Slade and the 

post-war breed of local education authority drama advisers, rationalized in 

colleges and universities by such people as Dorothy Heathcote, Gavin 

Bolton and John Hodgson, made respectable by an H.M.I, official report, 

it has above all been practiced and refined in the schools themselves. This 

drama is very much influenced by the realization of the educative and 

exploratory nature of children's play than on adult drama. Situations of 

dramatic conflict, imaginative projection and role-play are set up to help 

children explore through improvisation the problems and possibilities of 

their identity, their surroundings, other people and the interplay of all 

three. (O'Toolell) 

Note that the focus is on child development through improvisation. Adolescent and adult 

learners are not factored in to this equation. What Peter Slade established in the 1940's 

and 1950's and other like Dorothy Heathcote, Gavin Bolton and John Hodgson 

elaborated on again focused on theatre's role in the education of children. Once children 



19 

reach a stage of pre-adult, the adolescent stage, they in many ways must be instructed 
through different parameters. Their modes of behavior are different and continually 
evolving. Their maturity levels are continually going through growth spurts. And in a 
relatively short period of time, they will find themselves on the other side of the 
spectrum, being adults, and treated as such, but with all the responsibilities that goes with 
adulthood. As adults-in-training so to speak, they must be respected as a group of 
individuals that have the ability to make informed decisions, and as adults must be 
challenged to make such informed decisions. ' 

How then is this new acquired understanding (knowledge) applied to problem 
solving within a community context? The role of Encounter Theatre creates that 
opportunity. Unlike children's theatre where the adult educators guide the young learners 
through a highly structured process of discovery (even if elements of improvisation are 
implemented) Encounter Theatre takes risks. Although the outcomes can be 
predetermined in the produced theatrical encounter, depending on the participatory 
element evolving the audience, the modes in achieving the resolves may evolve in several 
different scenarios, each of which must be considered as of equal value. In keeping your 
options open the end results are always positive. For example, in Words of Resistance, at 
the end of scene two the audience is totally absorbed in a town meeting of 1 850 in which 
they are subdivided in to smaller groups to discuss their community's response to the 
pending passing of the Fugitive Slave Law. The audience believes that they must come 
up with concrete decisions and just as they are about to arrive at some decision making an 
interruption occurs and news is brought in that not only has the law been passed, but 
several individuals who are suffering as a direct consequence of the law's passing, needs 



20 
* 

the community's immediate help. The audience then proceeds in the harboring of 

fugitive slaves when a bounty hunter enters the town meeting disrupting it. Although the 
conclusion is predetermined and staged, the lengths of the discussions are not. They are 
spontaneous and their duration depends on the level of engagement in their discussions. 

Drama for Empowerment is politically transforming. For example, in a class 
activity I was involved in, the group was given an opportunity to experience how Drama 
for Empowerment works in the field. In this role-playing exercise on peer pressure, the 
class was divided up between students and theatre workshop facilitators. Most of the 
students gravitated to a particular role in which the potential for group conflict and clear 
examples of peer pressure were evident. The facilitators had the task of 'connecting' 
with each student. First by collectively 'breaking the ice' using a theatre game. I, 
playing a student who did not want to participate, sat out and observed the group activity. 
Later when we as a class were processing this event, one of my classmates commented on 
how my participation was much more meaningful than the rest of the group. I had the 
opportunity to observe the entire process. When you give the student the opportunity to 
choose whether or not to participate in an activity is empowering in itself My personal 
experience in this exercise, playing the student, was interesting. At one point I felt like 
joining in the activity (it seemed like fiin) but because I made the decision not to 
participate I felt I had locked myself out of the activity. As a classmate I was right in 
what I experienced. By listening and observing the activity I had a deeper understanding 
of what was going on in the group dynamics. I developed an appreciation for the purpose 
and power of the group activity in breaking down barriers and opening up dialogue. 



21 

Another classroom example was a video of a group of students from A. C. Davis 
High School, in Washington State demonstrating how the "process" educated students to 
move to act and resolve an issue affecting them. Students analyzed plot, theme, and who 
is at/in conflict. In this video, students addressed an array of issues. At its conclusion 
major questions were raised that were presented to the audience. This was done to begin 
the process of dialogue. During the dialogue process the following things happen that 
transforms the performers and audience involved: 

• The first step, achieving democracy 

This involved audience interaction in a very animated way: everyone is 
participating engaged in the activity where no one is clearly leading or 
dominating. 

• The second step, analyzing his or her own life circumstance. 

This requires each individual, audience/participant to give input about their own 
interpretations of their circumstances. Each input becomes "vital": everyone's 
role is important. 

• The third step, every one learns social action skills 

In this step the goal is collective: everyone takes ownership for not only their 
interpretations and their actions. These are compared and shared with members 
of the group. Collective responsibility is achieved as the group arrives at mutual 
understanding. 

• The fourth step, coalescing, working together towards a common interest. 

The most important point in the process of using drama is to aid individuals and 
groups to acquire a voice to speak out and address their issues. The goal in the 



22 

group dynamics is for the group not the faciHtator to take ownership of the play 

development process. When the group is focused on the goal the positive group 

dynamics takes place. 

An article titled Popular Theatre: One Road to Self-Determined Development 
Action by Pru Lambert explains, by definition and example, what popular theatre is, and 
how it is used as a tool for social change and empowerment. Lambert defines various 
philosophical approaches to the use of theatre in community education projects, and gives 
a very clear overview of the leading pioneers in this field. In analyzing Lambert's views 
on popular theatre his article introduced me to the work of Augusto Boal, the pioneer in 
the field, to further explore varying viewpoints about the relevance of participatory 
theatre in education. Pru Lambert states that popular theatre is theatre "which is realistic, 
critical and free" (Leis 1 1) used as a means of protest. 

In his view there are three roles organizers of popular theatre events perform: 1) 
they can be dramatists or professionals who's primary concern is on the quality of the 
spectacle; 2) they can be ideologues who's primary goal is on communicative 
propaganda; 3) or they can be developmentalists who can either use theatre as an 
educational tool (focus on an expedient product to resolution with minimal attention 
focused on the process) or as a dialectical tool (primary attention focused more on the 
analytical process of discovery) through a Freirian process of consciousness-raising 
(conscientization). It is the latter methodology that Lambert explores. His focus is on, as 
he puts it, "an illustration of the power of popular theatre as agent of conscientization and 
catalyst for action." (Lambert 242) 



23 

The conscientization theatre parallels the work of Paulo Freire and his literacy 
teaching process of empowerment. Freire aimed at liberating the oppressed and 
empowering them with the control over their own destiny. Lambert draws a correlation 
between these two Brazilians, Boal and Freire. He states that, "what Boal is to popular 
theatre Freire is to literacy." In a quote his draws from Boal, captures the essence of the 
power of the theatrical medium, the core of the theory behind drama for empowerment: 
"I believe that all the truly revolutionary theatrical groups should transfer to the people 
the means of production in the theatre so that the people themselves may utilize them. 
The theater is a weapon, and it is the people who should wield it." (Boal 122) 

Lambert states that Boal's methodology, primarily used (as Freire's work) as a 
means of irradiating illiteracy, has two main stages.- simultaneous dramaturgy dind forum 
theatre. From reading Augusto Boal's book Theater of the Oppressed, I discovered 
however that structurally there are four main stages to Boal's methodology. Although the 
first two stages, knowing the body and making the body expressive are clearly 
developmental stages, inherent in most theatre (acting) workshop regiments, there are 
stages three; the theatre as language and four: the theatre as discourse which are the 
most relevant. Augusto Boal's work addresses the political upheavals that existed in 
Latin American in the mid 1970's in which the barriers between the ruling class and 
peasant class were crumbling. The correlation of these crumbling barriers to that of 
theatre is cormected to the destruction of the distinction between actor and spectator. 
Boal feels that all must act, be protagonist, in the process of transforming a society where 
the current oppressed people are liberated. This is shown in his work with the People 's 



24 

Theatre in Peru discussed in detail in his book. The following stages outline his 
transformation process changing the spectator in to the actor: 

The Four-Stage Process of Transformation: 

Stage one: knowing the body is an exercise stage designed to: "undo the 
muscular structure of the participants. That is, to take them apart, to study and analyze 
them. Not to weaken or destroy them, but to raise them to the level of consciousness. So 
that each worker, each peasant understands, sees, and feels to what point his body is 
governed by his work." (Boal 128) 

The second stage: making the body expressive, is designed to, through the use of 
theatrical games, teach participants to better understand how to use their bodies as a 
'resource for self-expression. I am not talking about parlor games," explains Boal "and 
not necessarily those of the theatrical laboratory. The participants are invited to 'play,' 
not to 'interpret' characters but they will "play" better to the extent that they 'interpret' 
better." (Boal 130) What Lambert points out are only two of the three degrees of the 
third stage. The third stage is divided in to three distinct degrees of the spectator's direct 
participation one can easily infer from Lambert's article. Pru Lambert's article has 
enhanced my thinking about the applicability of theatre as a teaching and learning tool. 
One of Lambert's references, Jeff Wirth's Interactive Acting: Acting, Improvisation, and 
Interacting for Audience Participatory Theatre is an excellent training guide to any 
practitioner interested in participatory (stated in his text as interactive) theatre. 

In Augusto Boal's section titled "Poetics of the Oppressed" through the use of 
detailed examples, he explains his methodology. Below are stages three and four 
outlined as he has written them. 



25 

"Third stage: The theatre as Language: one begins to practice theatre 
as a language that is living and present, not as a finished product 
displaying images from the past: 

First degree: Simultaneous dramaturgy: the spectators "write" 
simultaneously with the acting of the actors; 
Second degree: Image theatre: the spectators intervene directly, 
"speaking" through images made with the actors' bodies; 
Third degree: Forum theatre: the spectators intervene directly in 
the dramatic action and act. 
Fourth stage: the theatre as discourse: simple forms in which the 
spectators-actor creates "spectacles" according to his need to discuss 
certain themes or rehearse certain actions." (Boal 126) 
Boal produced the first theory of the relationship between actor and audience. Based on 
the work of social change put forward by Paulo Freire, who he worked under one of his 
literary programs in Peru, it is from Boal's work that I gained most of my inspiration. 

In order to understand the poetics of the oppressed one must keep in mind 
its main objective: to change the people-'spectators'-passive beings in the 
theatrical phenomenon- into subjects, into actors, transformers of the 
dramatic action. I hope that the difference remain clear, Aristotle 
proposes a poetics in which the spectator delegates power to the dramatic 
character so that the latter may act and think for him. Brecht proposes a 
poetics in which the spectator delegates powers to the character who thus 
acts in his place but the spectator reserves the right to think for himself, 



26 

often in opposition to the character. In the first case a 'catharsis' occurs; 
in the second an awakening of critical consciousness. But the poetics of 
the oppressed focuses on the action itself: either to act or think in his 
place; on the contrary, he himself assumes the protagonist role, changes 
the dramatic action, tries out solutions, discusses plans for change - in 
short, trains himself for real action. In this case, perhaps the theatre is not 
revolutionary in itself, but is surely a rehearsal for the revolution. The 
liberated spectator, as a whole person, launches into action. (Boal 122) 
Others have also been inspiring; the following example is of a community-based 
theatre group in Jamaica that over the years has gain international attention. The eleven- 
member female theatre group from Jamaica named Sistren is a collective made up of 
eleven working class women who use participatory drama, based on the work of Augusto 
Boal as influenced by Paulo Freire to address issues of class and sex bias within their 
society. Sistren, since its inception in 1977, has toured internationally and has received 
high praise. As a result of their success they have been able to 'give back' to their 
community. Sistren is an excellent example of participatory theatre in action. Through 
charitable acts such as financing the building of a community center through contributing 
proceeds from their performances, or creating a variety of theatrical productions that 
often times began merely as improvisational skits, their work ultimately became the 
catalyst for change in addressing many community based problems. 

During the late 1980's in a joint sponsorship. The Caribbean Focus Study 
Program of Roxbury Community College hosted them in a series of lectures and master 
classes in conjunction with it Jamaican Reality course and study tour project. Several 



27 

members even lived for a while in the Greater Roxbury Community with members of the 
Jamaican Reality project. And when the project's two-week study tour took place that 
summer, members of Sistren accompanied them on the tour. From the feedback I 
received from student and community participants, the experience was an exciting 
educational exchange and the participation of members of Sistren were invaluable in their 
Jamaican culturalization. 

"The conscientization process is a long one, and there are no effective short cuts 
since all action must, in the long run, be undertaken in exposure to all sorts of national 
and international pressures which can undermine it." (Lambert 82: 249) I concur with 
Lambert's summarizing remarks. In participatory theatre projects that I have been 
engaged in over the years, in which my focus was both on the process and the product, 
some works have taken as little as six months to a year to mount, while others have gone 
through several years of successive stages of evolution. Throughout each of my projects 
the focus has always been two fold: 

1) the use of theatre as a means of social development and empowerment, and 

2) to afford students and community participants a memorable academically 
and culturally rewarding experience. 

In curriculum reform, the worse end product that can occur in this process is 
educational systems or individual schools developing curriculum that is only a 'Band- Aid 
approach' to solving the issue. As James Banks states "A mainstream -centric curriculum 
has negative consequences for mainstream students because it reinforces their false sense 
of superiority, gives them a misleading conception of their relationship with other racial 
and ethnic groups, and denies them the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge. 



28 

perspectives, and frames of reference that can be gained from studying and experiencing 
other cultures and groups." (Banks 195) For education to truly be multicultural it must be 
transforming. It must be inclusive of the spectrum of racial and cultural diversity that is 
represented in society. To arbitrarily insert dead heroes and superficial holidays in the 
name of multicultural education not only trivialize the significance of that culture it 
creates a distorted picture of history, a history from the oppressors perspective. My work 
as an educator is to make every learning experience engaging, transforming and 
enlightening. 

As an artist theatre has come to be my main teaching vehicle for effecting change. 
As Ross Kidd and Mamunur Rashid puts it: "Theatre by the people, for the people and of 
the people attempts to over come the ... limitations of being the passive recipients of ideas 
and analysis from the outside, robbed of the opportunity to voice their own concerns and 
to do their own thinking. As Freire would put it, cultural liberation is not 'a gift' or mere 
access to culture but 'the conquered right of the popular classes to express themselves.' 
the finished form of the theatre-finalized pieces of thinking with no room for audience 
contribufions- and the tokenisfic approach to post performance discussion which was 
tacked on at the end as an empty ritual reinforced this 'banking' orientation." (Kidd 35) 
Drama for Empowerment has assisted me in clarifying my own philosophical ideas on 
participatory theatre's form and function as a teaching medium. In addition, and quite 
possibly the most important, Drama for Empowerment has validated what I have being 
doing for over a decade in the field of community education. 

What Paulo Freire advanced Boal adapted to the educational theatre 
medium. The liberation process begins with the individual as an independent thinker, thus 



29 

the learning becomes transforming. How does this apply to educational theatre, when 
actor and audience are merged creating one unique type of educational encounter? Like 
Drama for Empowerment the focus is on the process of discovery. This is very 
important, crucial in most ways, in the development of new works for new audiences. 
However the assurance of producing a quality product, adhering to tried and tested 
theatre protocols are absent in this methodology. My educational theatre methodology 
adsorbs and applies the basic principles of Theatre in Education. Drama for 
Empowerment or Drama in Education (DIE) differs from the process of Theatre in 
Education (TIE) in that central to the Theatre in Education process is on developing a 
more active role of audience as participants in the theatrical experience. The audiences' 
involvement is crucial. 

Theatre in Education (TIE) "prime motivation lies in its explicit 

educational purpose and that its distinctive formal feature is its use of 

active audience participation. Central to the work, in all hs variety of 

theatre forms and educational strategies, are the twin conventions that 

human behaviour and institutions are formed through social activity and 

can therefore be changed, and that audiences, as potential agents of 

change, should be active participants in their own learning. (Vine 109) 

Their thoughts and actions, their direct involvement is central to the theatrical experience, 

thus creating a new praxis different from the traditional role of distant observer. To be 

precise both have a clear focus on a polished end product that is jointly produced by 

artists and community participants as well. No matter the age group, or educational 

theme the objectives are the same. 



30 

Through the use of Encounter Theatre community participants and artisans 
develop a work that absorbs their collective experiences and transforms their individual 
and collective knowledge in to a product that is both educationally and artistically rich. 
Individual participants in this experience, I call encounters, become more self-aware, 
more knowledgeable about the world and the people around them, and they become 
empowered with the understanding that their input does matter and does effect change. 
These shared encounters produce works that are individually stimulating, and 
communally beneficial. Thus the methodology focus is on the process and the product, 
both aspects being of equal importance. 



31 

III. Psychodrama 

My interest in psychodrama began through an interview I conducted with Edward 
Williams, Ph.D. a clinical psychologist, educator, and artist who runs a production 
company titled: Creating It Through Productions, Incorporated. 

This interview helped to focus my attention to how psychodrama techniques can 
be adapted for use as part of a teaching and training regiment for the development of a 
encounter theatre ensemble company. My interest is in developing an ensemble whose 
body of work is educationally rooted in teaching the significant influence that Afrocentric 
culture has had on history. My philosophical view on the psychodrama approach to 
individual and group therapy is that it has its benefits more on the individual and small 
group level than in larger group context. There are unique approaches that are applicable 
for encounter theatre use. I will also explore ways of adapting these techniques 
introduced during the training sessions to my professional environment, including 
information and examples when appropriate, to help clarify the applicability of these 
techniques. I will divide my comments into the following domains: 

•The role of theatre as a means of therapy in participatory theatre 
•Using psychodrama in the understanding and developing of group dynamics 
•The clash of disciplines: Psychodrama training vs. acting as an art 
•Defining Playback Theatre 
In this section I will conclude with a summary of a) observations of the group dynamics 
of a training session, and b) applicability of the techniques introduced to encounter 
theatre. 



32 

During the training session I observed, but more importantly experienced, many 
fascinating therapeutic activities that I must reflect on. Not all techniques learned would 
directly pertain to my professional needs in the training of semi and quasi-professional 
actors. However most would in some way be useful in the development of good group 
dynamics, especially in resolving conflicts in interpersonal relationships. As I train 
actors to take on the role of reenacting a person of a historical event they must understand 
that their additional role as educator requires an academic discipline that in itself has a 
structure. Historical accuracy and believability are two main factors in their 
characterizations. The major skills needed in order to work in this unique ensemble are: 

a) Discipline: which would be drawn from their acting training and 

b) Acceptance: of their role as educators whose knowledge base is 
drawn from the ensemble via the body of work. 

My definition of teaching, basically is sharing. My philosophy about the 
relationship between the teacher and student in the learning environment is one in which 
their relationship at any given time can be interchangeable. Each individual brings 
something unique to the learning environment and if they are allowed to share their 
experiences they will all leave this environment enriched by that exchange. We all have 
the capacity to both learn and teach. If each one is willing to give, share an experience a 
point of view, the group will gain insight. They will also learn and leave empowered. I 
approach all my courses with this duality in mind. One key question that I pondered 
through out the training sessions was, when does the discipline of acting become 
paramount in the therapeutic process? Not all therapists are actors. For the protagonist's 
"surplus reality" to truly have that level of reality or dramatic edge, presenting truth 



33 

requires the therapist and auxiHaries to have some formal grounding in theatre training. 
Understanding how to stage an event requires knowledge of theatrical blocking, stage 
movement, and its relationship to the audience, the client/protagonist or the group 
observing. In addition, the therapist and participants need some grounding in basic acting 
approaches such as character analysis, character development, and their technical role 
within the staged event. Without this grounding in discipline and training the quality and 
effectiveness of the activity would be compromised. 

In terms of the discipline of acting, if I was approaching a role I can become that 
character on stage and internalize the reality of the character on stage. However, the 
discipline of the art of acting for me is one major factor in the artist's training. The 
discipline is my safety valve. 1 know 1 am not this character so I will never go over the 
top. As long as I can be as real as possible, relative to the character on stage, and do all 
the physical action and everything required in making it surplus reality, that to me is 50% 
of the art of discipline. The other 50% of the discipline stems from being able, once that 
scene is over and I am out of the limelight and I am in the wings, to make the 
psychological transition back to reality. When I am back on stage I am back in 
character... I can turn it on and turn it off like a faucet. In my conversation with Dr. 
Williams he clarified this point of actor and character separation. 

That's a part of the discipline you can do in a psychodramatic setting for 
actors. Take them through a psychodrama process. Not using themselves 
as the object of the play, but use the characters. This will come out and 
this will allow them to talk about themselves, it will allow them to get to 
know each other. But continuously focus on this is theatre, this is a script, 



34 

and this is a character. What I have learned in my experience is it helps 
them a lot in terms of focusing, it helps them a lot in terms of separating 
the characters from their own personal identities... Don't identify with the 
character... it is not real. Theatre is not real in the sense of the real world. 
If you start internalizing these characters and situations as real they are 
going to immobile you and you will not be able to move and function as an 
actor, be versatile as an actor, free yourself up to take some risks. 

(Williams 1998) 
Another dimension to acceptance is that of each individual bringing a different 
perspective to the environment. No matter how careful we try or perceive we are being, 
we all bring excess baggage to the shared environment. For some this baggage can be 
maneuvered around relatively easy, to the extent that it becomes virtually invisible. 
However, to others like an annoying repetitive sound like the clicking of a pen, the 
baggage cannot be blocked out or ignored. My instructional style basically is open and 
non-formal. 1 encourage free flowing discussions about topics and issues that trigger the 
direction of the lesson. Based on these collective comments I feel the students have 
contributed to the learning environment. As a director I try to allow as much input in the 
development process as possible in the creation of a theatrical work. However, in both 
situations there are limits. My personal view about teaching, no matter what the subject 
or context that it is delivered; it is a form of therapy. As a therapy there is certain 
structural properties that are consistent with the art of teaching (the process) and its 
correlation with the definition of the teaching and learning paradigm (theory). In terms 
of teaching in respect to educational theatre the training session in psychodrama has 



35 

given me a tangible way of drawing connections to the art of drama as a means of 

therapy. 

Therapy is, from my perspective, creating an environment with a group or 
individuals that would allow them to express certain personal fears, 
frustrations, and desires. Helping them to work out some of their personal 
concerns [both emotional and physical handicaps] that will help them to 
cope with whatever they have set for themselves. And also maybe bring 
some closure to some early life experience that they haven't been able to 
acknowledge or bring closure to. (Williams 1998) 

In a study by Linderman (1942) at Massachusetts General Hospital on grief, loss and 
separation as a direct result of the Coconut Grove fire in which several hundred people 
perished, he discovered when you lose someone your whole being becomes unstable. 
Although this is a very old study it is still applicable today. The nightclub fires of Mid- 
West and New England of 2003 had a similar effect. There have been events-memorial 
services, and direct action taken on behalf of those lost in the tragedies. You have a void 
due to the loss of someone in whom you had invested a lot of energy. The natural 
inclination of people is to find a substitute for this loss. This is part of the grieving 
process. If it does not happen one goes from grief through depression to melancholy. In 
Dr. Jacob Levy Moreno's view spontaneity is invested in people, and that people need 
people.^ As we grow older one's acquaintance level goes down. Older people due to 
death have fewer people to invest their energy into. You need more than one person to 



' Dr. Jacob levy Moreno is the originator of psychodrama, sociodrama, role training, sociometry, and group 
psychotherapy took most of Dr. Sigmund Freud's ideas and used the stage rather than the couch in 
therapy. 



36 

invest energy into. That is why many elderly couples who loose partners die soon after. 
Moreno felt that you could map out the people you have energy invested into. This map 
is called a Social Atom (Hollander 1978). 

In our exercise of creating our own social atoms I discovered how appropriate this 
would be in my theatre workshop training. Having students visualize their relationships 
is an excellent way of getting them to better relate to one another as well as the theatrical 
material they are presented with. I recall a playwright who even before writing the first 
words of a new play would spend weeks, sometimes months, drafting biographies of all 
the characters he envisioned in this body of work. He would carry around this notebook 
and every time a thought would come to him concerning one of the characters he would 
jot it down. Maybe that is why his works were exceptionally well written, the dialogues 
were crisp and the characters were always well developed. Moreno felt that all therapists 
are social atom repairmen. This playwright was truly a master surgeon. 

•Using psychodrama in understanding and developing group dynamics 

Psychodrama as Moreno puts it, is the theatre of the individual and it is the group, 
which represents the chorus. The group dynamics inherent in Moreno's first theatre 
troupe was that they became extremely successful at improvisational theatre. They 
would create improvisations based on newspaper stories. They were so successfial in 
recreating reality that patrons of their theatre often questioned whether or not these 
stories that they acted out were in fact improvisations or rehearsed pieces. Through this 
process many techniques were developed that proved beneficial in addressing 
psychological disorders of patients that were in Moreno's care. As a dramatist 1 am 
specifically interested in the applicability of certain techniques to educational theatre, not 



37 

4 

merely in theatre game and warm-up exercises but in actual character analysis that 
enables the artist/actor to lend truth to each and every one of their performances. 

The director, the clinician, or the trainer must not be involved in the psychodrama. 
There must be at all time a clear acceptance of the professional distance between therapist 
and client as well as educator and student. This distance aids in maintaining objectivity 
to avoid any transference or counter-transference, especially when dealing with long-term 
psychotherapy. The role of the leader is a sacred one. The position of being the authority 
figure must be upheld and guarded at all times. This position I don't philosophically 
agree with for I believe in a more democratic approach focused on group consensus, the 
heart of the pre-stage in the encounter process. I believe that director of a play just as a 
therapist takes an active role in the process, although their roles are authoritative in nature 
it is the director of a play who can benefit more from active engagement in the process. 
This is the personal and collective discover that takes place. Yet in the therapeutic 
situation the clinician must be in total control, their risk must be minimized. Also there 
is a fair measure of power in the role as workshop leader or trainer. Just simply having 
prior knowledge of individuals in the group creates a potential danger that could become 
counter-productive in the overall groups dynamics. 

What tends to happen is when they get involved, participating with the 
other participants that to some degree you become the GOD. You become 
the answer to everything. There is no wrong that you do. Also 
unconsciously you manipulate. I interview them individually before they 
get into a group. I don't allow any socializing, group members socializing 
outside the group. I don't allow any sexual contact. If you are attracted to 



38 

someone, I don't allow that in a group. Unless there is an emergency I 
don't allow them to telephone each other. What tends to happen is these 
relationships are formed on the outside and when they come back into a 
group, setting situations occur and their personal relationships \\ith each 
other plays into the group itself. Or there's an expectation of one or the 
other to support each other based on what e\er happens in the group 
change. (WiUiams 1998) 

Role Reversal: is one psycho dramatic techniques that I find applicable to the 
training of actors in the deeper imderstanding of their character as well as an acti^■it^' in 
which theatre group members can role re\"erse with one another to gain a deeper insight 
to one another and themselves. This process \^ill be most beneficial in the de\"elopment 
of a theatre ensemble in which roles are constantly reversed and interchanged. In the true 
nature of an ensemble all actors are on an equal footing, each one learning a number of 
roles and at times performing each and ever}one. la a true ensemble no one is the star, 
aU are of equal importance to the production. In this environment the best actor training 
takes place. Actors are concentrate more on character de^•elopment and are more willing 
to take risks in order to achieve a better performance. The greatest challenge for an actor 
is to develop a sensor}- memon.- of experience that they can call on at demand to aid in 
their characterization. This sensor}- memor}- often times stems from one's own personal 
past experience, but what if the action called for was never experienced? For example, a 
role calls for the actor to portray a drug addict. The actor has no personal experience but 
must rely on keen observational skills in order to develop a characterization that is 



39 

acceptable. Taking on another person's identity is a great way to develop an inner 
understanding of that character. Thus one learns from walking in the other man's shoes. 

Doubling: In doubling an individual's language is used sparingly. The double can 
talk while the protagonist is talking, however, the comments must either mirror what the 
protagonist is saying or express what the protagonist is thinking. This process of 
doubling allows for the sharing of an experience. It allows individuals of the group to 
reverse roles. Doubles cannot make a mistake. They can only clarify a situation (Peter 
Rowan ). It is important to know when to stop it. Moreno felt that having the co- 
conscious and conscious coexisting, the both psyche would mess and the result would be 
a deeper understanding about the individual in that given situation. Applying this to 
theatre I can see actors who are having great difficulty developing their character teaming 
up with either an assistant director or fellow actor who could double with them to assist 
them in bringing out the essence of that character's reality. Also simply having the actor 
double himself in a mirror could do this. You don't always have to have a double to 
double. The learning curve is based on practice. In psychodrama when doubling you 
should never conclude with giving advice or solutions, but you may offer questions in the 
first person. In adapting this to Encounter Theatre role reversal engages one in an 
exploration of cause and effect. Why does this character behave in this manner, what is 
the root of this behavior, how is it manifested, and what is the goal of the character in 
dealing with this situation? This helps the actor develop a clear motivation. Note that the 
character's motivation in a play or a scene is not necessarily achieved, it depends on the 
objectives outlined in the script, but all actors must find their motivation. Doubling aids 



Peter Rowan, L.M.H.C. Training Session in Psychodrama Professor at Lesley University's Graduate 
School Expressive Therapy Program 



40 

the actor in seeing and understanding the details of their interpretive actions. Are the 
gestures, mannerism, vocal expressions, and diction appropriate? 

We can never truly see ourselves as we are; the best is a mirrored interpretation, 
or better yet a live interpretation from a trained peer/professional. Both role reversal and 
doubling can be used in the developmental stage of Encounter Theatre. These techniques 
cannot only aid in skill development but also in script development. The scenarios that 
develop in psychodrama can actually be used as seeds planted in various places of a new 
script, which germinates simultaneously in the actor training and script development 
process producing a quality product and experience. 

In any psycho dramatic exercise props hinder spontaneity. They become crutches 
or obstacles. The goal is to allow things to happen organically. Therapy is not an event. 
Several points come to mind as a result of the training sessions: 1) The protagonists must 
be representatives of the group (real or for application to theatre training a real character) 
2) their confrontation(s) should be supported so they can act through the event and 3) 
attention to group dynamic is extremely important, hi developing an ensemble group the 
inherent support that the team requires and relies on must be maintained or the group will 
self-destruct. 

•The clash of disciplines: Psychodramatic training vs. acting as an art 

Psychodrama basically is working with a group of people with their individual 
problems. What you do collectively is to dramatize those problems within the group, 
with group members taking on the roles of the particular individual problem. My 
personal pursuit for defining psychodrama as a type of participatory theatre is to clarify 



41 

its appropriateness to certain educational environments. I posed the following direct 
question to Dr. Williams: In your words can you define what Psychodrama is? 

Psychodrama is a very powerful, very powerful energy form of therapy, 
and it's risk taking. The person who is coordinating it truly has to have 
skills in this area. They have to know when to cut it off They have to 
know also not to get involved. Whoever is presenting these programs 
should never be involved or be group members themselves because they 
would simple destroy it, but at least know how to bring it to a close. 
Never, ever leave it hanging. But when 1 say never leave it hanging 
doesn't mean that you have to resolve the issue, or resolve the problem, 
but at least bring it to a close where those who are involved in it will be 
comfortable with themselves individually and be comfortable collectively. 
You don't want them to go out saying that, well we did this; there was no 
closure to it. Because what tends to happen if there is no closure brought 
to it, it eventually comes back to your next session or your session after 
that. (Williams 1998) 

The following is an example of a psychodrama sessions that Dr. Williams had 
experienced recently in several of workshops he conducted. In my follow-up interview 
with him he clarified the role of the therapist and participants in the process. What I 
learned from his stories, coupled with my own workshop experiences has given me a 
clearer understanding of the psychotherapeutic process. As 1 tried to visualize this 
activity or psychodrama session, the latter part of what Dr. Wilhams' described made me 



' Dr. William's form of psychodrama, Playback Theatre uses improvisation and role play of client 
experiences as the basis for theatrical content where only the skilled actors perform. 



42 

think of how oftentimes when someone who is dealing with a crisis, while they are 
explaining it to you or the group they are embellishing the situation with a lot of things 
that actually are not there. What they are actually verbalizing are their own fears and/or 
frustrations? 

In terms of psychodrama for a non clinician, I would go into it as a theatre 
form, which I know this is what you're going to do, I wouldn't base it on 
the subconscious too much because there are some dangers there. 1 would 
focus on the here and now as much as possible. And 1 would gear it 
towards the theatre piece in which you're working. It's very good in 
character analysis. It's very good in allowing a script that's being read, to 
be broken down into the characters and the environment, and how each of 
the players interprets the story line. Again, your focus is on the subject 
matter and your goal for doing this rather than focusing on the group 
individual, personal frustrations. 1 believe that there is more than one 
method of treating people. If you do a fair assessment and evaluation, and 
set up a treatment plan, it doesn't mean that 1 am the one to offer you that 
service, I feel if 1 can't provide that service for you 1 would make an 
honest and responsible referral to an agency or to an individual. When I 
meet with someone my first session with him or her is for them to get to 
know who 1 am, try to get to know who they are. ...They have the option of 
saying no to me at anytime. They also have the option of saying this does 
not work. But let's look and talk about it. Again, try to give them as 
much self-help as possible. Because that's what I feel treatment is all 



43 

t 

about. Not dependency. Most people are coming with painful stories, 

stories that they haven't shared with anyone, let alone want to 
acknowledge to themselves. And if you can respect that, that's half the 
treatment, half the battle. (WiUiams 1998) 

Just in mounting productions or going through the rehearsal process, I can recall 
many horror stories about participant's lack of discipline and acceptance and how it 
compromised the performance. Viewing this process from a purely theatrical perspective, 
I can see those problems with personality conflicts and so forth and how you caimot get 
to the work because they individual performers are bringing all of this external baggage 
on stage. As I try to get them into character, the more I try the more interference I am 
confronted with. In addition, they are not interfacing with each other because of this 
blockage. For example, one of my students made a comment to me... he said, "Just 
between us Dave, in the spring (98) when we do this production I can't work with so-in- 
so because she has made this rehearsal a bad experience. I want to do the work but she 
has taken on some responsibilities and dropped the ball! I'm just uncomfortable working 
with her. I just wanted to share that with you." The funny thing is that everyone in that 
class individually was sharing the same thing with me. And so I said to him, on a 
personal note, "I understand what you're saying and I'm addressing that [issue]." Without 
going into the personal details, it was interesting that his frustration was related to the fact 
that, 'wait a minute this person is holding me back, she is holding the purse strings to my 



success. 



For actors it's a whole different thing. And it is all psychodrama and 
playback theatre when you're going through rehearsals and pulling a show 



44 

together. It really is. If you yourself see it getting out of hand, with the 
blocking what I tend to do is to meet with them individually to try to work 
it out. I do take risks with my actors sometimes if it really gets out of 
hand. And you don't want to put that individual as a scapegoat... opens it 
up, generally open it up in a discussion. Not necessarily around that 
particular problem but you might want to say that some people are feeling 
uncomfortable and the morale is not as high as it might be. I think that 
gives them permission collectively to talk about it. And see where the 
chips fall. And again, try to bring some closure to it. (Williams 1998) 

Playback Theatre has to be true. It has to be a real life experience. The stories 
being acted out have to be experience by the storyteller in order for the honesty and the 
therapeutic aspect of this to work to be achieved. In Playback Theatre from the 
presentational and audience perspective, participants are there to kind of come away with 
some kind of experience, come away with a deeper understanding, a deeper insight to a 
situation. Does the story come from that audience? It is not a proscenium theatre piece 
where I am peering in from the fourth wall perspective. I have stepped across the fourth 
wall. The staging is truly a black box arrangement. It is back and forth, one moment I 
could be sitting experiencing it [the story] and then another minute I may be up there tell 
it and it is coming to life in front of me, around me. To help clarify this it's an engaging 
two-way process. It is an ongoing dialogue, its verbal or non-verbal. And if it is 
engaging, well, is this not another term or category for participatory theatre? This is a 
type of therapeutic theatre, which unlike psychodrama does require line that has no 
beginning and no end, how do we tell history? 



45 

If a history is made of uncountable moments, what do you choose to tell or omit? If 
official American history is the story of presidents, wars, and the building of cities, what 
and who are not included? 

Choice... you make it and it is acted out. After it is acted out the 

storyteller can look at the action which he or she are told from a distance. 

Two things happen, it clarifies from reality what really occurred, or they 

will see what they left out in this story based on the improv by the actors 

who are doing the story itself It also allows the storyteller an opportunity 

to expand on that story in terms of what happened, really happened. It is a 

very safe way to some degree, for the storyteller to tell how this problem 

or situation might happen. (Williams 1998) 

In Playback Theatre the actors, the storyteller, and the audience are all incorporated in the 

process. It is interactive and allows the participants to give feedback on the roles they 

experienced the participants in connection with the audiences feedback to their 

impressions of the performance. 

Role of Director/Therapist: In Encounter Theatre the role of the director is to 
guide/direct the process. If it is a new work being created, all voices are equal and 
decisions are more democratic. In mounting an already existing work, the director's role 
changes in his role as leader of the process, more like a committee chair, who can keep 
the group to and on task, but is also an equal member of the collective whose opinion 
must be honored along with others in the group. This fluctuating role of the of director 
dose not alter from one situation to another as Dr. Williams explains: 



46 

It has to be controlled by the trainer, in terms of setting the situation up, 
the actors have to be extremely comfortable with the stories being told. 
They have to have a lot of training and rehearsals, not in terms of the 
stories they are going to hear because what they are going to hear you 
can't rehearse for because we don't know what stories are going to be told. 
But in terms of training, listening skills, having a good feel of what 
improvisation is about, to be very focused on not only the story being told 
but being focused on each other. In Playback Theatre you do not know 
what character you are going to play or what sets [scenes] you are going to 
play. The storyteller has a choice in choosing who are going to be the 
characters in the story that is being told, including selecting one of the 
actors to play themselves. That means females play males, males play 
females, and that you play various ethnic groups. (Williams 1998) 

Acting Training: How is the quality of the acting and thus the theatrical experience 
achieved? What training methodology do you subscribe to and what training process do 
you have your actors participate in? The actors play various social classes. 

So when we are in training, we go through that process. You got to be 
comfortable with yourself You got to be comfortable with playing these 
various ethnic groups. You cannot stereotype any ethnic group. You 
must play it straight. You can take a risk to some degree, if you are 
comfortable, in taking on a dialect but I want them to be very comfortable 
about doing that, because I don't want them, to offend the storyteller or 



47 

anyone sitting in the audience. The storyteller and actors bounce off of 
each other. They use each other as stimulates. I invite people in, and 
they don't know who is coming here to rehearsals, they don't know, it is a 
part of their training. (Williams 1998) 
In this situation I share his belief in the individual being true to him/her self and their art 
of acting avoiding stereotypes for they offend and are totally counter productive. This is 
a cornerstone of the improvisational process of Playback Theatre; when most 
improvisational troupes use stereotyping as a quick means of developing and sustaining 
character, when using theatre as therapy the audience are not your typical audience but 
clients, patients that need what you present as part of their therapeutic healing process. I 
particularly like the comment he makes about taking on the challenge of dialect, only if 
you are comfortable. This is a risk, a big risk. If you cannot sustain the accent then avoid 
using it at all. In my play. The Mighty Jajah: A Jamaican Reality, I use Jamaican dialect. 
The role I played in the premiere production was that of radio announcer. During 
rehearsal, I was jokingly referred to as a 'Jafaking,' meaning that I did not sound like a 
Jamaican and to an audience inclusive of Jamaican; it would be offensive to see an actor 
do butchery to your language. I accepted my labeling as a sign, as Dr. Williams states, of 
the fact that every time I attempt to speak with a Jamaican accent without proper training 
from a vocal coach (this is the professional side of the Developmental Process) I should 
relinquish the role to someone more capable of presenting a more authentic 
characterization. 



48 

Spontaneity: The Here and Now: What is the core methodology of Playback 
Theatre's improvisational training process? How does the group get in to a collective 
zone, able to perform in what seems a moments notice a complete scenario? 

I invite people every Saturday [cast rehearsal] just to say hello to me, I'd 

say come up. The elevator operator or the people fixing the elevator if 

they were comfortable, I'd say come on in here and see what we are doing. 

They'd sit for a couple of minutes, come on you got a story to tell us don't 

you? Come on sit down and tell us a story, that's what I'd do. To give 

them some training, spontaneous, new stories, new backgrounds, new 

ethnic groups, it's a challenge for them and it works. (Williams 1998) 

Thus the core methodology lies in the stored memories of the actors. By the actors 

ability to recall from memory an incident, characterization, situation, episode, the 

performance is enhanced and the audience truly believes in the actor's ability to create 

out of nowhere a complete characterization or scenario. 

Playback Theatre Process: The theme does not necessarily have to be the issues of 
racism. It could be the issues around communications. It could the issues around control. 
Whatever the subject matter is that is basically the stories you are going to hear on the 
subject matter. Now, the audience is the story teller, what you do is a warm-up exercise, 
you just do not go in and do Playback Theatre. You do a series of warm-up exercises 
because many members of the audience may or may not know each other. There is a 
process you go through that will allow them to get to know each other prior to telling 
their stories. The actors are part of the warm-up exercise. 



49 

I will tell the participants that the actors are in the audience with you. 

They will tell you who they are, or... I will not point them [the actors] out, 

usually they [audience] knows who they are. I want them [the audience] 

to know there is no hidden agenda. The reason I put the actors in the 

audience is because 1 want the actors to also become familiar with the 

audience. (Williams 1998) 

In my trilogy of the history of the development of the African American community of 

Grater Boston, Words Of Reflection, the entire performance is situated in a 'black box' 

theatrical environment. Although initially conceived for performance in a church setting 

it quickly became a touring project where the performance and audience space, which his 

always shared, could be in a community room, function hall, church, classroom etc. The 

important structural feature is that the actors know that the integrity of the play rests with 

the actor's ability to be flexible and adjust to whatever environment the production is 

booked in. Thus the blocking is specific in places that call for it, and general for all other 

places in the script. What differs here between what I do and what improvisational actors 

do is that their script is solely based on the words of the audience who feed the actors 

information from which they create on a blank open space the stage. In Dr. William's 

playback theatre the set up is slightly different. In order to determine his structural 

approach to his method I have included subheadings. 

Setting the Stage: Dr. William's pre stage process is more traditional in that he begins 
with classic theatrical warm-up exercises and activities. During the latter part of this 
stage he begins the transitional process of setting the stage for Playback Theatre. 



50 

Once they go through the warm-up exercise, which usually takes 
anywhere between 30 minutes and 45 minutes, and it has to be that long to 
build up trust and some comfort. Then you set up the stage for the 
Playback Theatre. There are six chairs that are set up facing the audience. 
There should be at least six actors. Then you put an empty chair there. 
That empty chair is for anyone in the audience to come up and sit in and 
do the improv with the actors. This is another edge thing for the 

actors your going to get someone up there who has never performed 

before or you may get someone up there that is a good actor, who is a 

good improv, and this happened at Harvard [University] we had a guy 

come up and sat with them [actors] and perform through four different 

scenes, and they have never seen him before and he had never seen them 

before. But again, that empty chair is for anyone in the audience who 

wants to come up and take a risk and sit and go through a performance 

with the actors through an improv. (Williams 1 998) 

In Encounter Theatre depending on the group and objectives would depend on the 

developmental approach. For example working with the less trained actors more time 

would be devoted to skill and ensemble development. The focus is on developing trust 

and a collective work ethic. Every exercise is clearly directed towards connecting in 

someway to the ultimate goal, that goal being the creation of a work that addresses a 

social need. In Playback Theatre the focus is on the client as being separate from the 

actors. The client's only involvement is in the sharing of their stories, which is taken and 

improvised professionally by the trained ensemble of actors. 



51 

The Process: In Playback Theatre the stage is used as a symbolic neutral location from 
which various scenarios will be presented that relates and reflects many of the audiences' 
actual situations. The chair is symbolic of the individual whose story will unfold in from 
of him/her and the audience. 

The trainer and the story teller who is a volunteer, sits between the 
audience on the side of the actors where they can be seen by both groups. 
The trainer asks some questions of the group, name, where you come 
from, do you have any brothers and sisters, what you hobbies 
are?.... general questions. We try to change the questions for each person 
who comes up, but we try to keep the questions the same for the individual 
groups. After you ask this series of questions, then the storyteller tells his 
or her story the audience can hear it and the actors can hear it. After the 
story is finished, we will ask [the storyteller] is there anymore you want to 
say that you want to add, not subtract. Yes or no. They can do that. Then 
the storyteller selects the characters. Then at that point the actors can ask 
the storyteller some questions. Not how you were feeling, or what led up 
to that day, or what happened afterwards. They can only ask questions 
about the story that was told. Just to clarify. After that the actors have an 
option of not doing it. They might identify with the story, they might not 
like the storyteller; they might be in a bad mood, whatever reason they feel 
they do not feel like participating they can get up and leave and sit in the 
audience and watch. (Williams 1998) 



52 

The difference in the Encounter process is first there is a clearly defined goal. Every 
improvisation, theatre game, scenario is geared towards being small or big pieces in the 
play puzzle. In Playback Theatre it is limited to just the development of these scenarios. 
In Encounter Theatre the activities are designed to address a collective therapeutic 
objective, which is to develop a work to be presented to a given community. This is the 
point were Playback Theatre and Encounter Theatre differs greatly. 

Analytical Processing: Since the process is improvisational, often with scenarios being 
open-ended, starting and ending not at a fixed or formal beginning and end but at an 
abrupt moment in time dictated by the Director/Therapist or the actors themselves. 

We either cut it off at some point when they're ready to or I'll say cut. 

Then the actors will sit down I will ask the storyteller what do you think? 

They would share what they thought about it. Is this how it really 

Happened? Most of the time they will because reality is setting in, in terms 

of what really happened or what was really said that they could talk about. 

I will then ask them questions. How do you feel about it? Does this help 

you? Etc. The next thing is that the audience will talk about only what 

they saw. It is only focused on the story. On what has been said. 

(Williams 1998) 

The Encounter process relies on more traditional approaches to play and production 

development, following the rigors of a complete formal rehearsal process preceded by a 

script development process. Again, depending on the make up of the group and the 

objectives agreed upon the script development may happen simultaneously with the 



53 

mounting of the production. In developing new works the script is never considered 
complete until the play premieres. The Encounter method is primarily designed for this 
type of process, a clear focus on new works development. 

Playback Theatre Outcomes: To learn from this theatrical approach I needed to process 
how they, both actor ensemble and director/therapist process the outcomes of each 
Playback Theatre encounter. In this section I have divided outcomes in to three 
categories: a) Observation of the group dynamics of the training session, b) The 
applicability of the techniques, and c) My personal experiences and overall learning 
outcome. I am interested in the professional actor training process used in developing an 
improvisational acting ensemble in this style of theatre and how these training techniques 
can be incorporated in the Encounter Theatre process? 

A. Observations of the group dynamics of the training session, 

Sometimes people choose auxiliaries that they will never come in contact with 
again. This makes it comfortable for them to share an intimate experience with a total 
stranger. Other times people need to share with someone they have a common 
background in order to open up. You are constantly sending and receiving messages from 
people below the consciousness level. Often people choose people on a telepathic basis. 
Often times they are not conscious of it. And then sometimes the individual cannot 
choose an auxiliary and does role reversal with an empty chair. Group therapy works 
because individuals are far similar than dissimilar. There is a basic common thread as 
Dr. Williams explains, that allows you to use it across cultures in both the short and long 
term therapeutic situations: 



54 

Psychotherapy is where you work with a cUent from 1 to 9 to 13 weeks. 
Short-term Psychotherapy is a different aspect of therapy. It is highly 
intense and the client has to have a criterion that would get them into 
short-term psychotherapy. 

Long term Therapy doesn't work for everyone. From my experience, 
talking to my colleagues, and observing, what happens is the therapist 
becomes part of the problem in treatment. That's not always planned that 
way, but it tends to end up that way. A lot of dependency sets in where 
the client can't let go of the therapist, and the therapist can't let go of the 
client. (Williams 1998) 

Sometimes the process of acting out psychodrama takes time. However, the 
emotional intensity that comes from the process is rewarding. When I observed in a class 
session a protagonist constantly role reversing with the auxiliary I discovered that in 
order for her (the protagonist) to reach a catharsis (purging of emotional baggage or 
confronting an unresolved issue) she had to confront the crisis that she needed to resolve. 
The role reversal was limited to subtle gestures and spoken phrases in order to be 
understood. Adapting this to an acting workshop would be extremely effective. It would 
force each actor to free up their emotions to help them do a better performance. 

B. Applicability of the techniques 

As mentioned earlier, I am keenly interested in the teaching and therapy interface 
with in the realm of dramatize material of a historical, cultural and social nature. Theatre 
as a means of social and political empowerment is my academic quest. This training 



55 

session in psychodrama has aided me in identifying several tools that will assist me in my 
pursuit. Similar to Dr. Williams experience working with artists, I too want to become a 
better trainer: 

Issues around racism, issues around peer relationships, issues around struggling 
and trying to find an identity. I work with them individually and in-group form 
both in a traditional Freudian therapy form but also in Playback Theatre and 
Psychodrama. Then I have an older group of people I work with and for the past 
couple of years that population as far as professional backgrounds are, mostly are 
artists who are looking at their fears of performing publicly, trying to understand 
their art form, the best way how to present themselves, and how to deal with again 
the issues of racism, the issues of competition, and how to work collectively as a 
team member in what ever form of performance that they have. (Williams 1998) 
C. My personal experiences and overall learning outcome. 

Towards the end of the training session issues arose. Individuals in the class were 
caught up into a very heavy emotional process of enactment where roles got fuzzy. Most 
members of the group were cognoscenti of the group dynamics. The crisis stemmed from 
one group members inability to separate her personal issues (baggage) from her auxiliary 
role in someone else's psychodrama. It was interesting to me that this individual either a 
therapist or therapist in training could fall victim to such an event. Regardless of what 
triggered this outburst it was extremely counter productive. My final analysis of the 
situation was that she selfishly wanted attention. And she got it at the groups expense. 
Dr. Williams referred to these individuals as Workshop Junkies: 



56 

I run into this all the time when I do public workshops. And I am very 
conscious of it. When I am training my playback actors now is to also 
observe the participants as they come in, because you will always get 
these individuals who will sign up for the workshop, because they're 
lonely, they will not go and see a therapist, and they will not go and see a 
support group. But for them this is a way of coping and dealing and 
getting attention. '° 
Termination: 

Termination to any activity or event is extremely important. The worse situation 
to create is one that is left unresolved. New open-endings oftentimes cause old endings 
to resurface. The product of this is symptoms reappear through a process of denial that 
develops into anger. The ghosts that get in the way are those fears or issues that are 
unresolved that the individual refuses to bring closure to. In reflecting on my 
Psychodrama workshop experience, I now wonder if some of my classmates are 
workshop junkies. 



'" Dr. Williams refers to them as Workshop Junkies. 



57 

IV. Summary: 

Elements of Playback Theater can be used and incorporated in the Encounter Theatre 
process only if these techniques enhance the actor training experience. These techniques 
must be limited as Dr. William's has done in the rehearsal process, to uncovering and 
capturing stored memories of personal experiences and observations that can be later 
incorporated in a theatrical performance. In Encounter Theatre once the objectives are 
determined, the therapeutic aspects of the encounter must be educationally driven, 
meaning that the learning outcome of the actors and the audience must be considered, 
discussed and pursued. Using any of these techniques on the audience unaware of the 
motives is strictly forbidden. As stated earlier, using participatory theatre as a means of 
social change and empowerment in multicultural education is most effective in 
empowering the traditionally powerless. The role of Encounter Theatre is to afford both 
the audience and actors an encounter, entertaining in nature and of the highest theatrically 
professional value that has a clear educational objective. 



58 

Chapter Two: 
Applications of Encounter Theatre 

A form of Participatory Theatre used in a Variety of Settings 

I. Introduction 

Experiences in West Africa and involvement in various youth initiatives have 
contributed to my interest and pursuit of participatory theatre as a teaching medium. 
These encounters have enlightened me to the effective role participatory theatre has in 
effecting social change. Using participatory theatre as a means of social change and 
empowerment in multicultural education is most effective in empowering the 
traditionally powerless. I will present several examples applying the Encounter Theatre 
method to youth and adult communities in both semi and professional theatre 
environments and show how they work and why my Encounter Theatre Process is 
effective. 

I decided to give up the security of a guaranteed job, a career awaiting me upon 
graduation from college with the only stipulation that I work every summer and winter 
inter-session. I gave all that up for the opportunity to go abroad and work building 
primary schools voluntarily in Ghana, West Africa. My history teacher David Northrup 
who at the end of a lecture in his Europe and Africa Since 1500 course mentioned a 
program called Operations Crossroads Africa was having an informational sparked this 
interest. I attended and was hooked. Here was an opportunity to have my cake and eat it 
too! If accepted I could work for the summer and see if this is what I really want to do at 
the end of my undergraduate experience as it was suggested to me. So I applied and was 
accepted. 



59 

For eight and a half weeks I worked in Ghana, West Africa building primary 
school through out the country. We worked in conjunction with VOLU" the Voluntary 
Workcamp Association of Ghana and other international organizations from England, 
Scandinavia, Germany, and the West Indies. In addition to this we were filming the 
workcamp experience for a documentary for Operations Crossroads Africa, to later be 
used as a recruitment vehicle. The experience was fantastic! I traveled the entire country 
by road and by river, experienced differing cultures and ethnicities and for the first time 
in my life felt physically and mentally free. 

Physically free, meaning that I have the fi-eedom of movement. I could basically 
go as I pleased with out the physical sensation of an unseen barrier like those I 
experienced from time to time living in Boston. Boston a city of neighborhoods many 
close knit where outsiders are truly not welcomed. Also feeling as though you are in a 
forest, one person surrounded by so many, lost with no hope of finding your way, never 
experiencing other paradigms. If they are taught to believe this then they are truly lost in 
the forest. 

Mentally free, meaning that I have the ability to expand my mental horizons. I for 
the first time was in an environment where I was a part of the majority, not the minority. 
At every turn, I saw a welcoming face, a friendly smile, it was truly liberating. 
Educationally it made me aware of why so many people seem to be culturally and 
spiritually bankrupt. They cannot see for the nose on their faces. They are culturally 
conditioned to believe that they can only achieve marginal levels of achievement. They 
are slaves to an intellectual belief that they are only capable of marginal success. This I 
believe is why people of African heritage who come to this country from other parts of 



" VOLU short for Voluntary 



60 

the world especially those from Afrocentric countries are able to, more often than not, 
realize the 'American Dream' than those of African heritage who are native bom. 

During this summer experiences I was fortunate to witness many community 
theatre presentations, many ceremonial in nature, relating to traditional customs, 
practices, and belief such as the enstooling ceremony of the Ashanti Hene (King). The 
ceremony's spectacles including song, dance, and costume, consists of a procession, in 
chronological order, of carved wooden stools, each representing a past king of the 
Ashanti nation ending with a new stool of which the new King is seating. In addition I 
witnessed community theatre presentations in which certain social issues were raised. It 
is those theatre presentations that I was professional drawn to. In those presentations I 
discovered the possibilities of educational theatre transcending entertainment to achieve 
and educational suppose. I would later use those experiences in future plays that I would 
develop. 

From my African experience I returned with a new perspective on life. Some of 
my values and beliefs some would say changed I would say evolved. You see I now 
could see the forest for what it was, and what represented the trees. I was no longer lost 
for I was momentarily out of a particular forest and saw that the world is made up of 
many forests. In order not to be lost you need to compass yourself by a value and belief 
system that you can both preach and practice. Since then I have never found myself lost 
again. Now I was finally focusing on, really concentrating my time and energy in a 
discipline that seemed worthwhile. I developed a new focus about my teaching being 
about aiding others in establishing their own compass to guide their lives. This can only 
be done through a learning experience of self-discovery. 



61 

The concept for developing the Youth Action Movement which would be the 
catalyst for the development of the adolescent play about AIDS actually began during my 
senior year when I taught photography at the Hawthorne Youth and Community Center 
in Roxbury, where I was also a teen councilor, and also worked for a program called The 
American Experience. The American Experience Program was a cultural awareness 
project that paired for one-week encounters urban city teens with suburban teens to learn 
about the different ethnic and cultural neighborhoods of Boston. As a program Assistant 
my role was to assist in engaging students in all aspects of the project as well as 
contribute ideas for curriculum development. I participated with the program through out 
the life of the grant. We took students to communities such as Roxbury, Beacon Hill, 
South End, Chinatown, and the North End where they interacted with community 
residents, performers, artists and community leaders. This experience engaged the 
students in actively learning about the various similarities and differences of these 
communities. Often times community representatives would 'hang out' the next day to 
or so to experience another culture or ethnicity with the students. The only problem I had 
with the experience was true bonding, friendships; relationship took several days to 
develop. 

One highlight of the program was a theatre encounter that told of the Ellis Island 
experience that many immigrants went trough as they made their transition in to this 
country. What was intriguing was as we entered the performance space we were 
immediately given tags that we had to place around our necks so that the sign would 
drape across our chests. These signs, randomly distributed read, Negro, Irish, Polish, and 
several other ethnic and/or cultural groups. We were then lead through a performance in 



62 

which we were to act out spontaneously as a member of the group, which we wore on our 
chests. This interactive performance gave all of us involved a small taste of what it 
would have been like being a member of that particular group trying to immigrate into 
this country. This theatre encounter also aided in breaking down barriers that hindered 
the lines of communication. But the experiences were short lived due to program 
structure and time constraints. 

On Monday the suburbanites are suspicious of the urbanites and vice-versa. On 
Tuesday a select few are beginning to talk and interact. By Wednesday they are 
interacting even more, you can see a glimmer of relationships developing. By Thursday 
major segments of the group have bonded. If it were not for the obvious racial 
distinctions you recall from Monday you couldn't distinguish the urban student from the 
suburban student. By Friday sincere friendships are developing, but since this is the last 
day you can only hope that the exchanges of phone numbers are sincere. There should 
have been built in the programs design follow up, maybe a reunion of sorts. 

The number of drama teachers in schools has grown rapidly for years. But 
they are severely constrained by the timetable of forty-minute periods. 
School plays cannot be produced within such a framework. It is not 
surprising then that school plays ("theatre") must in practice be given a 
low priority. Most pupils' experience of drama must be confined to 
'drama lessons' and the easiest way to conduct such a short lesson is to 
devote it to improvised drama and movement, with its focus on individual 
objectives. One of the central fiinctions of drama is there by distorted 

(Hargreaves 153) 



63 

There seems to be a perceived belief that all educational encounters can be achieved in 
the confines of a predetermined time period. I believe that some encounters require their 
own time to grow and develop. Each student is actually on his or her own timetable. Just 
because the academic experience has ended doesn't necessarily mean that that the lesson 
has concluded. If we are to be transformed in to life-long learners we must break out of 
this mode of behavior, especially we educators. There is some positive feedback that I 
can give about the behavioral objectives of the program, it did expose people in a very 
intimate way to other cultures and ethnicities through an experience that they may never 
in life will have an opportunity to do. I did for a number of years see some of the student 
two of which who came from different school got married. Time is a very important, 
crucial element in the theatre development process. The Encounter Theatre method has 
varied in length depending on the community and scope of the project. Time ranges from 
as little as a month to as much as an academic year (eight months). Time will be discuss 
in relation to each example given. 

Over the years I have experienced and experimented with students using elements 
of both Drama-in-Education (DIE) and Theatre-in-Education (TIE) as a means of 
social change and development. I am amazed that TIE for more that 25 years, and DIE 
for more than 50 years have been continual modes of educational theatre methodologies 
applied. However, I never until now had any formal vocabulary to classify what I have 



'^As stated in Creative Drama in the Classroom (McCaslin p. 10) "DIE (Drama-in-Education) is the use of 
drama as a means of teaching other subject areas. It is used to expand children's awareness, to enable 
them to look at reality through fantasy, to see below the surface of actions to their meanings. The 
objective is understanding rather than playmaking, although a play may be made in the process. 
Attitudes rather than characters are the chief concern." 

13 icyjg (jheatre-in-Education) is a British concept that differs from traditional children's theatre in its use 
of curricular material or social problems as themes. Performed by professional companies of actor- 
teachers, it presents thought-provoking content to young audiences for educational purposes rather than 
for entertainment. It must entertain to hold their attention, but that is not the primary purpose. The intent 
is to challenge the spectator and push him or her to further thinking and feeling about the issue." 



64 

been doing. I just knew then, that I was doing something right. I was truly on to 
something great! This is actually where the idea for a theatre-based youth initiative first 
formed in my mind. 

The controversy over whether we should train children as performers has 
been in the past given a disproportionate attention to that aspect of theatre 
to do with acting, to the neglect of the more fundamental elements of 
dramatic form. Examination of the internal structure of dramatic playing, 
exercise and theatre reveals that at this deeper level the three modes share 
the same core components: focus; tension; and symbolization. These are 
the very tools with which the playwright and director manipulate their 
craft, tools which the youngest child entering an 'as if form of behaviour 
unconsciously deploys in creating a fictitious context. In other words, in 
this sense the child is operating in dramatic form. Recognition of this 
view fundamentally affects how the teacher sees his craft. Our modem 
approach therefore includes acknowledgement by the teacher that although 
a theatrical presentation may no longer be a priority he has a parallel 
responsibility to the playwright or director. Just as they are concerned 
with focusing meaning, increasing and resolving tension and selecting 
symbols that resonate for the audience, the teacher must use these basic 
elements for the participants in the creative drama situation. (Bolton 1 5) 
From my work with teens in the American Experience program I decided if I was given 
an opportunity I would try to create an entity that would allow youth to express their 
concerns creatively. Several years later I was given that opportunity. 



65 

II. The Use of Participatory Theatre in Addressing Social Issues 

The Deadly Gift: Drama about AIDS awareness among teens. 

This work was developed with students from the New Beginnings Program in 
conjunction with the Youth Action Movement, a youth initiative sponsored by 
African/American American Friendship Incorporated a community leadership program 
that was funded by the Kellogg Foundation. The purpose of the play was to produce a 
work that spoke the truth, their truth, from their perspective about an issue that concerned 
them. Working with these students for a two month period enabled us to develop a quite 
impressive work. 

The Pre-Stage process of Encounter Theatre did not begin immediately with 
'let's write a play!' If I tried to begin that way it would have been disastrous. A student 
community is no different than a neighborhood community as it relates to a new arrival. 
And the group must accept that newcomer, and the group leaders need to welcome 
him/her in order for one to gain acceptance. I have watched through experience working 
in a number of community-based programs in which the educator/group facilitator tried 
unsuccessfully to inspire/motivate their constituency. If the community does not buy into 
the activity, and feel that they have a clear voice in the creation, development, and 
ultimately the ownership of the work/project it is doomed from the start. The individual 
must feel cultural connected to the experience. The experience must have demonstrated 
value or more than likely they potential participants will quickly lose interest and distant 
themselves from the project. No matter how successful your project ultimately becomes, 
everyone experiences the sometimes-awkward nature of the buy-in. That is getting 
people to want to commit voluntarily to develop a body of work. 



66 

In the Pre-Stage everyone is engaged first and foremost in an informal group 
discussion about possible themes and objectives. In youth orientated encounters there are 
clear parameters established around the project. Students are asked what issues concern 
them, what topics are the most compelling, what do they want to address thematically by 
the use of theatre? In this discussion the director/educator uses the blackboard, or flip 
chart, jotting dovm student ideas as they are expressed. At this point only information is 
gathered. Students are asked to think about their ideas; these ideas will be explored at the 
next encounter. The overall objectives of the Encounter Theatre process are presented 
and questions arising from this presentation are entertained. It is emphasized that the 
collective must be in unanimous agreement to participate in the process. Time is given 
for students to digest their individual and collective role in the theatre encounter. 

So how do you obtain buy-inl I believe in the honest approach. In the 
Developmental Stage engage them in a discussion about what it is you want to achieve, 
and what role you would like them to participate in. Clearly explained are the goals and 
object(s) of the project. Participants are asked what role they (individually) want to play. 
But the most important discussion you must initially have is what is the theme of this 
theatrical work and how does it relate to them. This is stated from the first meeting in 
the pre-stage and reiterated in the development stage. The goal is to create a work that 
speaks the truth, a certain kind of truth, from their perspective. Let them know that the 
dialogs must speak a truth. This is how the acting training and script development process 
can develop in a more seamless way. In other words, if your youth group is made up of 
14 and 15 year olds then the subject matter and how the characters will express their 
feelings will be created and developed from that same 14 and 15 year old perspective. 



67 

So first decide on a theme then create a basic structure. For example who are the central 
characters? What I have found most useful is engaging the entire group is make sure that 
they select a them and that they each take part in the creation and development of 
characters, major or minor. Once this is achieved then develop a schedule of tasks, and a 
timeline for developing and completing this project. Included in this timetable w^ill be 
workshops orientated around dramaturgy; theatre design, production, and actor training. 
Once this is done, with your foundation firmly established, you can then move on to the 
production stage. 

The Production Stage in the project involves cultivating an audience made up of 
family, friends, educators, and community members who as audience participants share 
in the overall enjoyment of the work as passive spectators. They are transformed when 
the work leads to an open discussion at play's end with the actors and audience 
discussing the challenges, responsibilities, and decisions members of the community 
share in the problem the theme of the production raised. In the production process clear 
theatre objectives are addressed and all that are involved adhere to clearly defined 
professional theatre methodology, that is the group follows a clearly agreed upon 
performance schedule. 

The Social Change Stage is the analysis process of the project. The play 
premiered and eventually closed, yet the thematic essence lingers on. It is in the 
extended life of the thematic essence of the encounter that is the most germane factor in 
the encounter process; in this instance it becomes truly participatory. Self-assessment 
and value of the experience happens. At this point individuals' experiences vary. Some 
experience social change immediately, while others are consciously affected later on. 



68 

Those individuals keenly interested in acting training begin immediately evaluating their 
skill development. Those more interested in the work's communal values focus their 
attentions on devising outreach mechanisms. Be it individual or collective, the social 
change stage spavms new life into the project. Social Change is merely the beginning, 
the development of the criteria and foundation for a Direct Action approach in addressing 
the issues raised by the production. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his famous. 
Letter from Birmingham Jail (King 1963), the four-step process to his non- violent direct 
action campaign. The steps were 1) Research: collecting the fact to prove injustice was 
taking place, 2) Negotiation: attempt to try to have a constructive dialog to resolve the 
problem. 3) Self-Purification: all individuals involved in the campaign must go through a 
process where they are mentally and physically prepared, trained in the art and 
techniques, acquired the tools before embarking on the final step 4) Direct Action: which 
is creative tension designed to as he put it create Gadflies in the face of those who stood 
for injustice. Like King's third step Self-Purification, the Social Change Process of The 
Encounter Theatre Method seeks similar results in the individual and collective involved. 
The discoveries are that powerful. They do more than merely enlighten; they transform 
people to desire to effect social change with others. 

The Empowerment Stage begins once everyone is in production and has an 
opportunity to assess their accomplishments after a performance, or series of 
performances. As they reflect on their individual and collective experiences they discover 
that they were enlightened, energized, and motivated to engage in individual or collective 
problem solving encounters. You see one encounter leads to another in which each one 
teaches one. Over the years I have produced several other works employing these 



69 

Encounter Theatre methods. The work that I am most proud of is The Deadly Gift. '"* It is 
this work that began my focused work on addressing the needs of adolescents through 
Encounter Theatre. Below is a brief synopsis of the Encounter Theatre Process used with 
adolescents, followed by an example of short encounter thematically focused on conflict 
resolution. 

Adolescent Encounter Theatre Process 



The Pre-Stage 
Establish Consensus 


Establish a group consensus about the 
theme and approach to the development of 
the product. 


The Development Stage 
Product and Skill Development 


Created a work that speaks a truth from a 
youth's perspective and developed both the 
script and all the skills and talent needed 
for its performance to their community. 


The Production Stage 
Cultivate an Audience 


Cultivated an audience through the 
production of their work and through the 
post performance discussions about the 
product's theme. 


The Social Change Stage 
Heighten Awareness 


Students were transformed to desire to 
effect social change with others. Individual 
experiences varied; for some it was 
immediate for others it was delayed. 


The Empowerment Stage 
Community Service 


Enlightened and motivated they engaged in 
individual or collective problem-solving 
encounters that were theme related. Some 
theatre-related other community service 
related. 



'"* See full play script of The Deadly Gift in Appendix B 



70 



Conflict Resolution: Using Drama for Educational and Social Change 

A Playwriting Workshop was designed for students interested in learning the art of 
playwriting from a community development perspective. Students created a play in 
collaboration with a particular community of choice whose theme is socially relevant to 
them. In this case, their school environment was chosen as their main setting, but the play 
also included elements of their community as well. The mechanics of script writing 
were explored through classroom activities such as improvisation, group discussions and 
short writing assignments. Students completed a one-act performance piece that was 
showcased at the workshop's end. Creating plays with a concentration on community 
development underscored the instructional approach to using the teaching of playwriting 
as a means of social change and empowerment. One example resulting from the 
playwriting workshop experiences is The Incident at Madison O 'Bryant High play. 

Students explored the multi-faceted discipline of dramatic theatre arts. Students 
used playwriting as a means to better understand the socio-political origins, traditions, 
and customs that contribute to the shaping and development of their popular culture. 
Utilizing their own cultural and ethnic roots, students were enriched and supported in 
their interaction with-in their peer group. The intent of this process was to bring about a 
new sense of awareness of his or her communities by the unlocking of each student's 
natural creativity. 

During the course of the workshop sessions, students participated in a variety of 
workshop activities; theatre games, improvisation, storytelling, mime, etc. that helped in 
the development of their own character, small scenes and the one-act play as a whole. 



71 

The workshops were geared at the development of the one-act play based on a topic that 
the student felt was relevant to their particular constituency. When time permitted, 
students were assigned computer lab work during selected class sessions for work on 
particular aspects of the play's development. 

Drama: Incident At Madison O'Bryant High 

The following Drama titled, Incident At Madison O 'Bryant High School was 
developed during four, two-hour workshops with students from the Madison Park and 
John D. O'Bryant High Schools. These are two urban public high schools in Boston who 
are currently participating in Roxbury Community College's New Beginnings Program. 
This after school program offers students, many of which have academic or behavioral 
problems that placed them at risk of failing, a second chance or fresh start. The New 
Beginnings Program affords them an opportunity at a fresh start by exposure to college 
life, and intense academic assistance, thus a new beginning. The workshops ran for two 
weeks, on two consecutive Monday and Tuesday afternoons from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. 
Students also created a 30-minute talk show on video at the RCC Media Arts Studio. The 
talk show is based on this script.' 

During the Pre-Stage students were actively engaged in a discussion about issues 
and concerns that affects them. Throughout the discussion students was asked what role 
theatre can play in addressing these issues. Either using a flip chart or a classroom 
chalkboard, as the ideas flow lists are compiled and later sorted out in to thematic groups. 
A group decision is made in editing this information in to manageable format. This 
approach assures collective involvement and ownership of the material. At this point we 



See complete script. Incident At Madison O 'Bryant High School in Appendix C 



72 

move to the development stage and finally the production stage. For clarity I have listed 
assessment criteria I subscribed to in this process. 

During the Development Stage students were expected to: 1.) Participate fully 
in all workshop exercises and activities in the process of preparation and presentation of 
all class assignments and in completing all writing assignments on time. These workshop 
activities involve primarily actor training and script development. Some of the actor 
training exercises heavily relies on having the group divide up into smaller groups and 
have them engage in improving their characters through various scenarios that have been 
predetermined. Assemble participants from in and/or outside of class for their project, 
and arrange all additional rehearsal times needed to present their work 2.) Successfully 
complete a one-act play (running time 30 minutes) that must follow a pre-established 
format and bear a story line that must be clearly defined from which a theme can be 
derived. This script is the outgrowth from the small scenarios grouped together to form a 
completed play script. The goal in the development stage is to train emerging actors and 
create a body of work reflective of their collective experiences. 

During the Production Stage Assessment: students were expected to: 1) 
Complete one full production of their work for class review: write an analysis of their 
own performance, 2) Participate in the entire Class Workshop Presentations: assist in the 
presentation of the work of others, and write a brief memo to each participant 
commenting on his or her work. The goal of the performance stage is to create an 
encounter opportunity for a particular community to experience a theatrical work that 
reflects thematically many of their collective concerning and/or issues. The motivation 
behind this encounter is to create a positive communal dialogue. 



73 

There was a final presentation of students' play done as a workshop performance. 
Students were encouraged to use a moderate semblance of costume and set props to 
enhance their presentation and gain practical experience in the development and 
mounting of a production. 

The Social Change Stage involved developing lesson plans that incorporate 
teachers who are considering broader academic engagements of the students; the teacher 
should consider attaching written assignments to various stages of the development of the 
production project. 

1 . Read suggested materials and participate in discussions of those works 
Allow those discussion to lead to written responses; critical analysis of the 
subject matter. This may lead to future script components, i.e. monologues 
and additional scene scenarios. 

2. Write a critique of the production process and their participation in it. This 
can be done in journal fashion, having the students creating a storyboard 
of these observations and experiences. 

Students at the end of the workshop experience developed a 30-minute video production 
of this project. 

In Empowerment Stage the video has been used as a means of teaching future 
student participants. The cycle of empowerment leading to social change is evident here. 
Those audience participants who experience the social change eventually become 
empowered and will in their own way effect social change. I plan on continuing my 
association with the New Beginning Program and Roxbury Community College's 



74 



Upward Bound Program. I truly believe that by using drama we were able to tap into 
and unlock their creativity, and apply it to something relevant to them. 

What is so important about this youth educational theatre initiative? I believe the 
most important role theatre has played in the lives of these teen participants is that they 
truly felt empowered. They individually and collectively found their voices and 
connected with an audience willing to hear them. The core of these individuals went on 
to graduate from high school and many have successfully gone on to college. Maybe the 
ultimate assessment of the value of their participation in this theatre project and other 
empowerment encounters will be assessed in the quality of their service to mankind. 

Incident At Madison O 'Bryant High 



The Pre Stage 
Establishing Consensus 


Collective involvement in the creation of 
the theme, and discussion about the criteria 
needed to address it. 


The Development Stage 
Skill and Project Development 


Assemble participants from in and/or 
outside of class. 

Complete a full one-act play for production 
Arrange rehearsal times as needed 


The Production Stage 
Create Communal Dialogue 


Complete a full production of their work 
for class review and write an analysis of 
their own performance. 

Experience a theatrical work that reflects 
thematically many of their collective 
concerning and/or issues. 


The Social Change Stage 
Individual and Collective Discoveries 


Read and discuss thematically associated 
materials leading to written responses 
Critique the production process and their 
involvement in it. 


The Empowerment Stage 
Community Service 


Audience participants are empowered by 
the experience and in turn effect social 
change. Each one teaches one. 



75 

* 

III. Encounter Theatre in Youth Outreach Presentations 
Bring in Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk 

Bring In 'Da Noise, Bring In 'Da Funk produced by the Joseph Papp Pubhc 
theater at the New York Shakespeare Festival under the leadership of George C. Wolfe 
has won four 1996 Tony Awards. George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover, who won Tony 
Awards for their direction and choreography, respectively for Noise/Funk, returned to re- 
stage the first national tour. Noise/Funk began its national tour in Detroit, Michigan in 
September of 1997 and Boston from May 19, through June 14th, 1998. In addition to 
Detroit and its scheduled run in Boston, Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk hit major 
cities such as: Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Denver and Los Angeles. Bring In 'Da 
Noise, Bring In 'Da Funk is a groundbreaking ensemble musical, conceived and directed 
by Mr. Wolfe, and choreographed by Mr. Glover. Noise/Funk utilizes the rhythms and 
energies of tap to celebrate the history of the beat by presenting text and songs which are 
comprised of Mr. Glover's tap; poetry by Reg E. Gaimes; and music by Ann Duquesnay, 
Zane Mark and Daryl Waters. 

George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover first worked together in 1992 on the 
landmark Broadway musical Jelly's Last Jam. During the summer of 1994, Wolfe 
presented Glover in Dancing under the Stars at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, an 
evening of tap dancing that was part of the Public Theater's Mondays at the Delacorte 
program. Noise/Funk grew out of Wolfe's idea of Savion as a living repository of 
rhythm. Wolfe comments: 

From generation to generation, tap dancers taught each other their steps. 

The old timers passed their information on to Savion, and it landed in his 



76 

feet, his being, and his soul. Re-inventing these steps he has created a new 
form, and through his choreography in Noise/Funk, he is teaching tap to a 
new generation of dancers.'^ 
Noise/Funk started as a workshop during the summer of 1995 at the Public Theater, 
where h opened in November to virtually unanimous critical acclaim by theatre and 
dance critics, playing until January 1996. It then transferred to Broadway in April 1996 
and reopened to a second round of rave reviews, nine Tony Award nominations including 
best musical, and sell-out crowds. In his review of the Broadway production, Ben 
Brantley of The New York Times exclaimed: "Sing hallelujah! Noise/Funk is alive and 
flying higher than ever. This white-hot exchange of energy can sometimes be found at a 
rock concert, but rarely at a Broadway musical. "'' It continued to break house records at 

1 9, 

the Ambassador Theater. 

I attended a Wednesday evening performance in March and was surprised, given 
that the show had been running on Broadway for three years, that the theatre was packed. 
Once the show began, I could see why. It was an electrifying, true toe tapping, uplifting 
educational experience. What is most fascinating to me is the way the play captures the 
essence of the African American experience, using projected images and typography as 
historical commentary; it covered over a three hundred year period in the span of a two- 
hour performance. The team of Wolfe and Glover has produced for America a theatrical 
phenomenon. By merging tap, rap, music, visual graphics, and stylistically simple sets. 



'* From press release for the Public Theater 



" From press release for the Public Theater 
" In April I was sent by the Wang Center to see the Broadway production in preparation for the school 
outreach project. 



77 

they have created an exceptional teaching medium. Using theatre as a means of teaching 
Black history attracted me to Noise/Funk and to its educational outreach activities. 

Educational Outreach: Bring In 'Da Kids 

The process that I ultimately used in addressing the goals and objectives of the 
Bring In 'Da Kids project followed clearly defined Encounter Theatre methods. 
Throughout this section I will clarify the aspect of the encounter method used and the 
educational outcomes from the process. 

1. Pre-Stage - Overview of Education Outreach activities 

The educational outreach program developed by the Public Theatre called 
Bring In 'Da Kids, conceived, written, and produced by the Public Theater of New York, 
focused on attracting and developing new theatre audiences, primarily the youth. Their 
objectives were accomplished on many levels, through a series of educational and 
community outreach programs and special events that coincided with the show. For 
example, in Seattle, Washington, the theme used in their community and school outreach 
program was "Black History-More Than 28 Days. " Although the community-based 
activities involved celebrations centered on Noise/Funk and took place during Black 
History Month, their theme was a reminder that the show itself represents hundreds of 
years of Black history in America that is worthy of recognition beyond the year's shortest 
month. 

To promote public awareness, some cities sponsored Noise/Funk information and 
Black history trivia that is facts about such individuals as Bill Robinson and created 
assorted bibliographies of relevant books, for distribution throughout the city. 



78 

• 

What 's Your Noise, bus campaign - featured art of local students who used 

the white space on bus-ads to illustrate their noise. What's Your Noise is 

based on the belief that Noise is a personal method of cultural dialogue. 

With this belief people in the community could see how young people 

express their A^o/.ye.'^ 

Official Noise/Funk sponsorship includes on-air cast interviews, pre-slotted trivia spots, 

ticket giveaways, and other tie-ins. These commercial activities were handled by the 

national public relations entities and are not the responsibility of the advisory boards. 

However indirectly several of these public relations activities did overlap the advisory 

boards activities. During this pre stage process volunteer members came to a consensus 

about their mission in addressing new audience development and exposure to the 

Afrocentric themes inherent in the production. Buy in was not a problem; but truly 

reaching the educational objectives envisioned was the dilemma. 

Under the direction of Dr. Edward Williams^", worked as the Wang Center's 
Diversity Consultant established an advisory Committee to primarily target and attract 
the African American community to the production of Noise/Funk. During its Boston 
engagement the volunteer advisory board, comprised of education, art, and city 
administrators representing various segments of Greater Boston's Black community, 
worked together to devise an approach. Once the committee was formed and objectives 
were established the processed moved to the developmental stage. 



" From press release for the Public Theater 



^^ He is a licensed clinical psychologist and visual and performing arts producer, who I interviewed 
concerning the parallels between Playback Theatre and Encounter Theatre in methodology and use of 
therapy in addressing social change. 



79 

# 

During the pre-stage process the advisory committee met weekly to aid in the 
community outreach effort in developing new young theatre audiences. Committee 
activities include volunteers, advocacy and ambassadorships^', potential sponsor and 
collaboration contacts. For example, the advisory board was able to get Ms. Dianne 
Walker, a nationally an internationally renowned tap dancer and mentor to Savion Glover 
and contemporary of the late Gregory Hines, to conduct a Master class^^ at one of our 
teacher training workshops. 

2. Development Stage - Audience development Committee activities 

After I accepted Dr. Edward Williams' invitation to be a participant on the 
advisory committee I was soon asked by Vicki Barrett, Director of the Wang Center's 
Young At Arts program if I would consider putting together an outreach program 
involving my students based on an educational study guide written by Kimberly Flyrm. 
Again, we as a committee were first gathered together in mid-March and this request 
would require my students and I to conduct a series of middle and high school site visits 
within a span of time of a little more than a month just prior to the play's Boston run. In 
order to proceed with this project I called on the services of a select number of my theatre 
arts student from Roxbury Community College. Their involvement immediately added a 
new dimension to this project, one of mentoring. Because my student herald from the 
same communities that these middle and high school students are from, their presence as 
community role models brings to the situation a refreshing added bonus. After extracting 
basic elements from the study guide I develop a working script that I work shopped with 



^' Student internships performed at the Wang Center. 

^^ Demonstrations included audience and artist interaction plus a question & answer session. 

^^ The teacher training workshops will be fully discussed in the this section 



80 

my students. Working with my students I was able to construct three units each running 
approximately 30-minute aimed at engaging students and teachers in a discussion about 
selected segments of Black history. Accompanying these presentations were slide images 
that showcased many individuals highlighted in the play, in the study guide, and/or 
individual who I chose to incorporate to give a more complete historical representation of 
the time period at hand. 

Teaching the historical contents to various levels of students was not easy. My 
challenge was to make sure that the material was age appropriate. Each academic level, 
elementary, middle, and secondary having their own unique learning environments, I 
have foimd must have this historical information filtered to them properly. However, to 
test the age appropriateness of the study guide can only be achieved in the field. In some 
cities at the elementary level, the outreach has been from a more hands-on approach 
where featuring percussive instruments, their use and level of importance in Black 
culture, during slavery and beyond would prove very effective. At the middle school 
level, a slightly more advanced view such as the history of tap in America, it evolution, 
rise and decline, including some sort of participatory dance with cast members proved 
more effective. And at the high school level more relevant though provoking topics such 
as August Wilson's challenge to the nation to examine the validity of diversity in theatre 
and what that does to the existence of Black theatre seemed appropriate for some. In 
Boston, the advisory committee decided due to logistical issues (too many schools to 
cover in a short period of time) and safety concerns (transporting children via public 
transportation would create potential problems), not to conduct outreach activities to the 
elementary schools. Our educational outreach effort was then focused on the middle and 



81 

high school levels only. Originally this included from Boston: 1 7 middle, 1 1 high 
schools, and from METCO:^'* 8 middle and high schools.^^ Each school will be allotted 
approximately 40 tickets for students and teachers to attend. My role in the educational 
outreach project was three-fold: First, to introduce theatre to those new audience 
members who probably has not experienced a live theatre performance before. Second, 
using participatory theatre communicates the play's concept and aspects of the play's 
subject matter. And third, utilize RCC students as role models and mentors to encourage 
student interest in the performing arts, the art profession and higher education in general. 
Again, the play Noise/Funk chronicles the history of African Americans spaiming 
a three hundred period. My challenge was to extract from the study guide and the play 
itself portions that would be relevant to teach to middle and high school students in 
roughly fifty minute outreach sessions. Kimberly Flyrm's study guide, produced by the 
Public Theater, it was designed to be taught to students after they had experienced the 
performance. We however approached students with this information in reverse order. 
Over approximately a month period we presented to teachers and students samplings of 
the play's historical content in what I like to call performance dialogues. The 
performance elements that we present are sprinkled in the dialogue for good measure, to 
keep it interesting. My team of Theatre Art Interns had to be taught the range of topics 
depicted in the play prior to their participation in the outreach. Their challenge was to be 
able to sustain a spirited conversation/dialogue with teachers and students about the 



^^ A volunteer busing program involving urban students an opportunity to be bussed to and educated in 
suburban school. Established in the mid-60s it was the first volunteer busing program in the nation 
and the most successful and still operating program. 

^^ See footnote 30 on page 90 for complete school listings 

^* Interactive theatre involving complete audience interaction in the context of the performance and 
presentation. 



82 

dynamics of the theatre profession, the background about the plays inspiration and 
motivation and most importantly teach and celebrate the history of those of African 
descent in the United States. Again, this presentation is a performance dialogue with 
teachers and students. Those we interact with during the outreach process heard poetry, 
songs, political commentary, and narrations about the lives and contributions of a range 
of African American figures through out history. These historical figures paralleled the 
play's content. 

One of the cast members who graduated from Boston's City Roots high school in 
Roslindale participated in a Master class at his alma mater where Channel 5's Chronicle 
television program covered the event. At this Master class I and several of my students 
were present to participate in a dialogue with cast members along with high school 
students from City Roots and several local schools in the Roslindale area. Channel 5's 
Chronicle was on hand to do an interview. The young cast members of Noise/Funk 
involved in the outreach activities play a vital role in mentoring and role modeling, 
making a positive lasting educational impact on these student's lives. By having the cast 
members, especially the four of the national tour from Boston, participate in these Master 
classes demonstrates to the young that you can achieve your dreams if you work at it. 

3. Production Stage - Master classes: cast appearances in the community 

In preparation for the June 1 1"", 1998 event, we conducted two teacher workshops 
at the Wang Center. The first workshop was held on April 16th which included screening 
the promotional video on Noise/Funk, our presentation of samples of the curriculum 
developed for the Boston outreach project and the distribution of copies of the study 
guide. Vicki Barrett, Director of the Young At Arts program introduced the afternoon 



83 
f 

activities which included an overview and what role my students and I will play in this 

outreach project. There was a discussion that followed about the effective ways to 

incorporate the study materials into each teacher's curriculum. Teachers present signed 

up for site and program selection choices. This workshop was geared to offer teachers 

choices in the content of the outreach presentations. In attendance were 16 teachers, 

roughly half of the total numbers of teachers who agreed to be a part of the process. 

We stressed that this outreach project was less a touring theatre presentation but 

more of a dialogue with students and teachers about the historical content that the play 

captures. Included in these discussions, from a student perspective, was an overview of 

theatre itself; engaging in dialogue RCC students with public middle and high school 

students. One of the intended results of this outreach activity is the potential for 

Mentoring and role modeling. RCC students are products of the same community and 

some of the same schools that we will be visiting. The mere presence as college students 

for some is inspiring. For those interested in the performing arts this is an added treat. 

As a sample, we discussed the plays style and structure.^' Kimberly Flynn's study guide 

was introduced and distributed for the first time to the teachers present. What was 

explained was that the study guide is designed as a teaching aide in the process of 

developing young student theatergoers into theatre critics. To develop their analytical 

skills, where they can truly appreciate the theatrical experience. The goal is to create not 

just another student group of consumers of culture, but active learners, new theatre 

audience participants who will critically analyze: 

• How does a work of art - a play, a painting, a movie, a song do its work on you? 

• How did the varied language patterns, images, music and dance grab you? 



^' See Outreach Presentation Introduction pages 2 & 3 



84 

• What the point of a scene was and how it is driven home, what made the 
artwork? 

I explained that the structure of the show happens in real time. It's a show that deals with 
history and it's also the way the show talks about time, which is unique, using the 
storyteller approach. Eventually, after experiencing the performance, teachers and 
students will have the opportunity to engage in further dialogue about the history 
presented in Noise/Funk. They will be able to consider the following, more general, 
questions about history: 

• If time is a line that has no beginning and no end, how do we tell history? 

• If history is made of uncountable moments, what do you choose to tell or omit? 

• If "official" American history is the story of presidents, wars, and the building 
of cities, what and who are not included? 

Then from these general questions probe deeper into selected historical periods assessing 
the impact and historical contributions of the performing arts. As stated in the study 
guide: "Every historian is a story teller who makes choices. The storytellers of the 
history presented in Noise/Funk choose to tell the progress of a people in many 
movements: the task of telling of emancipation of a people at ground level."" The play 
does this in six parts, an enormous feet given that the historical timeline spans three 
hundred years: 

1. In 'Da Beginning: The Middle Passage 

2. Som'thin' From Nuthin': Life during slavery 

3. Urbanization: Emancipation /the Great Migration North; Harlem Renaissance 

4. Where's The Beat?: Tap Meets Hollywood, what happens: A tap discourse 



^* Quote from Noise Funk lesson plan produced by the Public Theater 



85 

5. Street Corner Symphony: The story of a city block from '50s through '80s 

6. Noise/Funk: Today and beyond. 

"This is a lot of ground to cover, and Noise/Funk covers it with 'only five 
dancers, two drummers, a singer, and a rapper (whose character name in 
the show is '"Da Voice") - together they bring the beat across three 
centuries. Through out the play you will hear names. A list of names 
throughout the show, characters of 'Da Voice and 'Da Singer will conjure 
up multitudes of people who made and were made by this history." 

(Flynn 3) 
As Kimberly Flynn stressed, the play is conceived to fill you up, on any good night in the 
theatre, with more information than you can handle sitting in your seat. And the study 
guide merely gives you an edge. This study guide gives a detailed overview of historical 
figures mentioned including for easy reference, names and short biographical lists on 
every person mentioned in the show and even some that are not. My goal through out this 
project was to suggest and encourage engaging ways in which teachers and students can 
interact and explore particular historical periods in African American history as they 
prepare for the experience of seeing the performance. In order to do my job effectively I 
designed three-package presentation from which teachers were asked to choose from. 

1. The Middle Passage: recalling the holocaust/Slavery and the Civil War 

• A Diaspora: about names: emancipation and beyond, what's in a name. 

• Life during slavery: the importance of the slave narratives 

• They stole our drum: impact of the striping of cultural artifacts 

• Alliteration and assonance: explanation of rhythm and the beat 



86 

2. Urbanization: Emancipation/the Great Migration North; Harlem Renaissance 

• The Lynching Blues/The Blues / Crossroads I 

• Migration North; Chicago Bound 

• Nations: cultural & political ideology dialogue of the nation concept 

• The Jazz Age/Harlem Renaissance 

3. Civil Rights/Music Progression, and Icons from 1950s through 1980s 

• The '50s: Birth of the Civil Rights Movement 

• The '60s: Hamer, King & Malcolm 

• The '70s: Musical flavors 

• The '80s Rap / Crossroads II 

4. Social Change Stage - Individual and Collective 

After my students and I presented samples of each of the three units we had a dialogue 
with the teachers about the content presented. This was the social change stage of the 
process. I was amazed that very few teachers were actually in the performing arts. The 
teachers present represented the broad spectrum of teaching disciplines from math to 
language arts. There were two dance instructors present who asked questions concerning 
how in-depth would we go in explaining the history of dance in America. This is an 
excellent question. Not being trained in the art and discipline of dance I explained that I 
felt this is a subject that I personally am ill prepared to teach and honestly stated as such. 
I explained though that I could cover the history and evolution of Afrocentric dance in 
America but only from a discussion standpoint. Franz a then student of Roxbury 
Community College concentrating in Theatre Arts., when asked at the first teacher- 



^' Franz Boneau graduated in 1999. 



87 

training workshop by one of the dance teachers how will the group present the dance 
curriculum to the students responded by stating: 

I'm not a dancer but I do know rhythm. I can relate to rhythm in rap and 

how the vocal beat in rap is similar to the rhythm of tap. That it culturally 

stems from the say source. The rapper Butsa Rhymes in his rap (gave an 

example) sings...! can illustrate how the rhythm of the rap can be tapped 

out. (Franz Boneau) 

He proceeded to demonstrate. It was exciting to watch. Here one of the students 

improvised something to the teachers especially the dance instructors that was relevant. 

How can we connect this subject matter to the students? And in a very precise way Franz 

demonstrated how to culturally connect to the students. Aisha followed with an example 

of a Billie Holiday song and a song of Erika Badu and how their vocal stylings are 

similar, ewxcellent examples. The students have the knack for drawing from their cultural 

experiences and sharing that with their audience. They bring a refreshing truth to the 

subjects at hand. After these examples, teachers were very interested in where they came 

from. Are they products of the community or from somewhere else? They were both 

surprised and pleased to discover that with the exception of Caroline who is from France, 

Jimmy who is from Alabama, and Aisha who from Concord (by way of METCO), 

everyone in the production, including myself of the public Boston school system. 

Caroline Victor, who is originally from Paris, France and spent her high school 
years in Burkina Faso, West Africa, this was her first year at RCC. "It is interesting to 
learn about the African-American experience. Bring In'Da Noise is really powerful. I 
want to be a filmmaker, and this program has taught me a lot." 



88 

James Hardy a long time resident of Roxbury and then a full time then student at 
Roxbury Community College concentrating in Early Childhood Education, is a father of 
two children, with custody of his then six year old son. James after receiving his degree 
in Early Childhood Education continued his studies at University of Massachusetts at 
Boston, with the desire to become a teacher. His comments about the outreach project: 
"In doing this outreach we must unite the home with the school and the school with the 
community, this is how we allow the children and students to become successful and lead 
productive and promising lives." While at the Phyllis Wheatley School where we were 
interviewed by Dorchester Community News James further states: 

With this program, we can show the kids where their parents and grand- 
parents are coming from and where we are headed. It is important to show 
the kids that they can go on regardless of the past and to show them that 
there is more beyond just where they are living. ...It is difficult for kids to 
make it. We need to show them plays and get their interest. I would like 
to see more inside the classroom as well as outside so the kids know that 
they really have a chance. We need to teach them to see beyond the 
comer. 
On May 24, 1998 Young Art Arts hosted an event for 200 of their community 
partners. Guests including students and their families arrived in the Grand Lobby of the 
Wang Center at 3:30 pm for an afternoon of Noise/Funk related activities and community 
building. Partners of Young Art Arts were involved in the planning of this event. The 
Boys and Girls Clubs, Youth Enrichment Services (YES), Federated Neighborhood 
Housing (FDNH), East Boston Social Center and LynnArts all participated. What Young 



89 

At Arts offered on that day were six activities, which included: dinner, an art project, a 
song workshop, a dance session, a discussion in the Suskind Lobby and a slide 
presentation that I presented relating to the outreach project. Members of the cast were 
present and were able to join in activities when time permitted. Following these activities 
everyone in attendance proceeded to the Schubert Theatre for the evening performance. 
The Community Day performance was a tremendous success. 

Vanessa Ly then a student who transferred to Mass Bay Community College to 
study forensic science comments about here very first outreach experience at the 
Woodrow Wilson Middle School: 

The day went well, it was really inspirational. There was one boy who 
was writing a book. He wanted to be a playwright and wanted to know 
how we got involved in the theater. When he found out that he was going 
to go see the play, he was so excited. The kids knew a lot and there was a 
lot of interest in the program. 
5. Empowerment Stage - Community Outreach 

The Boston Outreach Committee sold 1100 tickets for that evening performance 
and combined with the successful fund-raiser for the gala May 19th opening of the show, 
helped to underwrite the Student Day Performance on June ll"^. This event had 1500 
students in attendance for a free performance. At this event the National Outreach 
Coordinator spoke on their behalf and mentioned the combined efforts that she and I were 
engaged in, have both my students and cast members present and perform at selected 
sites. This was followed by dinner in which selected teachers who attended the 
performance were invited. 



90 



The Public School Performance of Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk took place on 
June 11, 1998 12:00 PM. Over 1500 students from 26 Boston Public Schools attended 
the 12:00 noon performance of Noise/Funk on June 11, 1998.^° In addition, 250 METCO 
students will participate as well as 75 students from Roxbury Community College and 
409 students from the Roxbury Center for the Performing Arts. Our students came from 
across the city representing the middle and high schools. Their interested teachers 
represent many areas of the curriculum ranging from math, English, history, special 
needs, dance, music, and performing arts. 

During the spring 1998 Semester, a group of twelve students were enrolled in the 
spring 1998 Theatre Arts Internship. These students were hand picked based on criteria 
ranging from academic pursuits to personal interest. My goal as instructor was to build a 
new core group of students as part of my resident company. In order to do this I needed 
to develop a true ensemble out of a vast cross-section of students with varying levels of 
abilities and interests. 

Willie Johnson, a former student at Roxbury Community College, received an 
Associates Degree in the fall of 1998. His long-term goal is to transfer to Emerson 
College to study Film/Global Communications and Photography as a double major. 

My experience in Mr. Coleman's class has been motivational to me as an 
aspiring film major. It has enabled me to expand my thoughts concerning 
the aspects of theatre arts as an abstract form. The Theatre Arts Internship 



^° Bring in da Kids program outreached to 21 Boston Public Schools. The Middle Schools were: 
Edwards*, Curly*, Wilson*, O'Bryant, McCormack*, Timilty, King, Renaissance*, Thompson, Gavin, 
Lewis*, Dearborn, Wheatley*, Cleveland*, and Boston Latin Academy. The High Schools were: 
English*, Burke*, Snowden*, O'Bryant*, Charlestown*, Boston Technical*, Hyde Park**, Madison 
Park*, Dorchester**, and City Roots*. Schools with * are those that were visited by Roxbury 
Community College student-performers. Schools with ** are those that were requested by cast members 
who are alumnus. 



91 

was a well-taught class, which exposed the students to various aspects 
about themselves as human beings. I personally felt the class was 
universal and educational, and I enjoyed it. 

Jimmy Pettway (enrolled) who was bom in a small southern town called Camdan, 
Alabama and is the tenth of eleven kids. His first performance took place when he was in 
the sixth grade. From that day on he says he knew that show business would be his 
career. In 1972 he enrolled into a dramatic program at the Elma Lewis School of Fine 
Arts. While there he had the chance to play one of the wise men in the production of 
Black Nativity. 

Langston Hughes' poem, I've Known Rivers is what really inspired me to 
continue my education in the arts. I attended the Carol Nash School of 
Drama, studying voice over and acting, then the Leland Powell School 
graduating in 1976 with a diploma in Drama 1 & 2. In New York City I 
studied at the Hubert Burgdolff Studio, concentrating in the areas of 
acting, dance, fencing and vocal development. Since then I have studied 
at the Hudson Guild Theater, starring in the production of To Follow The 
Sun, Marie Grecco Production Co., in which I learned about the working 
of the theatre advertising industry. 

Presently he is a member of Mr. Edward William's Playback Theater and The Roxbury 
Repertory Theatre Company. Working with the two directors of these theatre companies 
has afforded him the opportunity to participate in the community outreach. His talent and 
years of experience proved to be a very valuable resource. 



92 

Educational Outreach Summary 

The National Tour of the PubHc Theater's Noise/Funk: Bring in Da Kids 
program offered local educators in each city that the show appeared an opportunity to 
interact with the cast via Master classes and dance workshops and to learn more about the 
play's the black cultural theme and its development process through focused educational 
discussions. Included in each of the outreach presentation was a short video narrated by 
Philysha Rashad which showcased the shows phenomenal success and the spirit behind 
its concept, that of showcasing Savion Glover as a repository of American tap dancing 
heritage through the telling of the history of the African American experience. The 
study guide companion to the show was designed for post-performance use. My students 
and I were challenged to implement the study guide prior to students viewing the 
production. This meant that I had to teach my students theatre production techniques 
ranging from technical production to acting. The outreach project became a road show in 
which students were performing in front of middle and high school students in a variety 
of setting. On any given day we could be in a class room in front of forty kids then travel 
to another cite to perform in a auditorium in front of over one hundred people. Schedules 
constantly changed for both students and schools sites, which added a level of complexity 
that under normal conditions would not be tolerated. But my students and I are products 
of the communities we are outreaching to. And it was that personal commitment of 
everyone that made it a success. Add to this the fact that four of the cast members are 
from Boston made the Boston outreach efforts even more important. 

The producers from New York wanted us to be integrated into the cast outreach 
efforts. Unlike what has taken place in other markets, our outreach was in no way trivial. 



93 

We did not give a mere glossed over Black history lesson followed by a little song and 
dance number. What we offered each site we visited was an educational experience. We 
did not totally lecture to students. We made the experience interactive. Incorporating 
historical slides as well as interjecting questions throughout our presentation, the goal 
was to have a meaningful dialogue with students. For example, when we discussed the 
lynching epidemic during the period of 1890 through 1910 and the role that Ida B. Wells 
played as a major anti-lynching crusader; a graphic slide was shown of two Black men 
being lynched. We conversed with students about this period from the standpoint of how 
did that image make them feel? The students responded by saying it made them angry, 
upset even frightened, I made the connection to a scene in the play in which a dancer is 
lynched. I described how although the scene has but one performer dancing, through 
staging, lighting and the pulsating beat of his rhythmic taps, you had the sensation of a 
crowd converging on this individual, binding his hands behind him and stringing him up 
and killing him, leaving him dangling, swaying from a tree limb. There was no noose 
around his neck, nor was any other person present on stage, but the intensity of the scene 
recalled for me the graphic nature of the slide image we viewed. Our goal is for students 
to be educated consumers of art and not take art for granted. To learn how art expresses 
history and culture in an extremely powerful way. When these students finally see the 
performance they will be able to relate to different periods of African American history, 
thus the theatre experience will be even more meaningful. I truly believe that you cannot 
appreciate anything that you don not understand. Thus, by having this educational 
experience prior to seeing the performance students will truly have an extremely 
rewarding experience. 



94 

This outreach project created a wonderful opportunity for young people to learn 
an often-neglected aspect of American history. During the outreach process I have 
proposed to teachers choices in how to approach the curriculum. As an out growth of the 
study guide teachers can engage students in writing reflective essays on selected topics 
presented. They can also have student create their own narratives stories or tell from an 
oral history perspective what it would be like living during a particular time in history 
commenting on certain historical places and events. The feedback we have received from 
the New York producers and the national outreach coordinator was that our outreach 
efforts put the Bring In 'Da Kids program on another level. The culmination of this was 
at Roxbury Community College on Thursday, May 28, at our Media Arts Center, where 
we had eight METCO schools bussed in for an afternoon presentation that consisted off 
the educational outreach presentation, a solo selection from the narrator of the play, 
selected dance numbers performed by the dancers accompanied by the shows drummers 
followed by a question and answer session opened to the audience. 

A. How intense was the curriculum in this short period of time? 

My student performers brought a certain level of intensity and sincerity that was 
infectious. Also I had a company member of the Roxbury Repertory Theatre Company 
present for the presentations during the post school semester period to aid in maintaining 
a certain level of theatrical quality and balance, given the daily personnel changes that I 
had to make due to student availability. For the middle and high school students we 
interacted with during the outreach, we were merely at a starting point. Most teachers 
had not begun teaching any lessons from the study guide making our presentation the 
formal introduction. We hoped that teachers would continue to dialogue with their 



95 

students about the history inherent in the Noise /Funk play. Only in that way will the 
teaching of the historical significance of African American presence in the United States 
will be truly effective. It must be a continual learning process. 

B. What were teacher curriculum and site presentation expectations? 

Most teachers expected for us to begin the formal introduction of the curriculum. 
About fifty percent of the teachers had not begun the curriculum and waited for us to 
come to their site to be the formal introducers. This was fine with us, but it would have 
worked out better if we all had more planning time. The majority of teachers were a bit 
puzzled as to what to truly expect. Although we had two teacher training workshops, 
because of changing itineraries only a small group of the teachers present had a clear 
sense of how to present the information at their site. 

The best example I can give is with the Boston Renaissance School. These 
students were by far the best prepared and most involved. I must give the teachers credit 
for engaging the students in reading the study guide prior to our arrival. When my group 
asked those content questions many of them were able to quickly respond with accurate 
information. They were extremely attentive and active in the entire presentation. 

At other sites it appeared that there were alternative goals achieved that often 
times happened by accident. At several of the sites we visited my students made personal 
connections with teachers and students we interacted. Ranging from my students being 
graduates from that particular school, being a relative or a neighbor of a particular student 
present, to a particular teacher in the workshop has been the teacher of one of my student 
performers. My students having the opportunity to make those connections personally 
touched me. They were truly the teachers in this experience. The process they 



96 

experience was Encounter Theatre in which through the process of engagement 
(development of the product), and the performance of the product they learned 
tremendously, as was individually from the experience. They learned professional 
theatre methods, which for example Franz Boneau has continued in his studies and 
professional work as an actor in New York. They learned the role of participatory theatre 
in addressing social issues, and most importantly they learned a lot about themselves in 
the process, from developing self-esteem, to intellectually expanding their knowledge of 
African American history. Finally the most powerful aspect of this encounter was the 
involvement of the 1500 youth from various schools that we outreached to and the 
educationally rich experience they gained from their involvement. 



97 



Educational Outreach: Bring In 'Da Kids 



The Pre Stage 
Overview of Education Outreach 


Volunteer advisory board, comprised of 
education, art, and city administrators 
representing various segments of Greater 
Boston's Black community, worked 
together to devise an approach. 


The Development Stage 

Audience development 
Committee activities 


1 .) Train students to conduct series 
of middle and high school site 
visits using materials from Bring 
In Da Kids post-performance 
curriculum. 

2.) Develop outreach presentation 
as a pre-performance teach-in. 
Develop as a play script. 

3.) Train and rehearse students. 

4.) Create two teacher workshops at 
the Wang Center for teachers to 
select and book segment for 
performance at their school site. 


The Production Stage 

Master classes: 
Cast Appearances in the Community 


1.) Perform workshop presentations 
2.) Perform Outreach presentations 
3.) Outreach to over 1500 students 

at select Boston Public schools 
4.) Students and cast members 

perform for Metco Schools at RCC 


The Social Change Stage 
Individual and Collective Discoveries 


1 .) Dialogue with teachers and students 

about content presented. 
2.) Student performers dialogue 
3.) Shared discoveries 


The Empowerment Stage 
Community Outreach 


1.) Have all 1500 student attend 
matinee performance oi Bring in 
Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk. 

2.) Discuss outcomes with students and 
teachers 



98 

IV. Encounter Theatre and Cultural Awareness 

The Mighty Jajah: A Jamaican Experience 

At this time I engaged both my then current students and select community 
residents in a theatre encounter that would test the limhs of my participatory theatre 
theory. The Mighty Jajah: A Jamaican Experience was a eight month long participatory 
project that merged academic and community participants in an engaging process of 
developing a play focused on a theme of cultural interest. That theme was the history of 
the repatriation movement; in particular the more current Marcus Garvey inspired back- 
to-Africa movement. 

The Pre-Stage involved both students and community people the play project was 
developed on a simple theme about the importance of cultural heritage. The thought I 
raised to the group was what if two children whose parents were members of the 
Universal Negro Improvement Association, founded and lead by Marcus Garvey, grew 
up as life long friends inspired by that influence, in their later years decided to fulfill 
Marcus Garvey' s dream of repatriation to Africa. What if this movement was developing 
a tremendous following, so much so that the government saw this organization as 
threatening the status quo? What if the place is Jamaica, three years prior to Jamaica's 
independence is where the play takes place? And finally, what if the majority of the 
language of the play is in Jamaican dialect? These were the challenges that I proposed to 
the group. 

As the playwright I knew I needed full commitment of the group in order to 
develop such an adventurous project such as this one. Creating the story was easy. 
Doing the background research on the environment and on historical events and people 



99 

from which to carve and craft characters wasn't that difficult. But being a non- Jamaican 
to make this work to speak a certain truth to the audience, which would be primarily 
Caribbean, was a tall order. This is why first one must gain that initial commitment from 
the participants. Yes I am developing a commercially viable play however for it to ring 
true in the eyes, ears, and hearts of the community that will eventually experience the 
performance, I must develop the project in workshop fashion. This means developing a 
play treatment, an overview outline the plot, the conflict that moves the story and the 
meaning fiieling the theme. After discussing this with the group character Ideas develop. 
I established the basic premise, two life-long friend create a grassroots organization that 
is spiritually motivated excites the people and over a period of time amasses quite a 
following. The British appointed government, which is then currently dealing with 
periodic threats against their continued control over the island and it's people, sees this 
movement as threatening and feel that it must be stopped at all cost. 

During the Developmental Stage several students were asked to participate in the 
project. Out of the eventual 25 cast members involved in the project only five were 
actually from Jamaica. Only two, including myself were African Americans. The rest 
were from various Caribbean Islands such as, Barbados, Trinidad, Tobago, and 
Montserrat. Out of the group only four individuals had any prior theatre experience. To 
train the participants in acting techniques and maintain their interest in the project three 
unique approaches where applied, character identification, character motivation, and 
education, language/ diction. 

First, as I developed characters, when ever possible I incorporated their personal 
traits in the characterization. This allowed the amateur actor to comfortably get into the 



100 

character, identify with the character, know what the character is thinking and most 
importantly what the character will do or how he or she will react to a situation before 
that situation arises. 

Secondly, we would have weekly script review sessions. These sessions would be 
primarily made up of the production team, the designers and principle actors, yet we 
opened these sessions to all cast members, and personally invited them to these sessions 
when there characters were involved in the discussion. In these discussions we would 
flush out inconsistencies in the story, but more importantly we would concentrate on the 
diction of the different characters. Our goal was to give their language authenticity. For 
example if your character is from a rural community and is not highly educated he or she 
would speak a certain way. On the other hand if the person was well educated but 
originally the object of the project was to develop a play so culturally rooted that the 
different nuances of the language would ring true. 

Thirdly, 1 continually researched and re-researched my material. I talked to other 
Jamaicans outside of the production. If I limited my input to just the group with out 
outside stimuli the work would end up flat, two-dimensional. I was challenging myself to 
discover uniqueness with in the history of Jamaica. Prior to engaging in this project the 
West Indies was all the same to me theoretically. It was only after beginning this project 
and having wonderful conversations over delicious island dishes that the members would 
bring to our production meetings that made me clearly realize that there are vast 
differences between the islands. If there are cultural and linguistic differences between 
island s that all are under British influence surely with in the island of Jamaica there are 
rich cultural differences between rural and urban people, educated and the limited 



101 

educated. These differences I began to explore. This became the foundation for the 
subtext of the play. As we developed scenes we looked at what unique stories was each 
individual scene saying? And how did these small stories relate to the bigger thematic 
one of the play itself? 

In the Production Stage we invited the community to partake in the encounter. 
This was real risk taking for me. This process involved promoting this play to the 
Caribbean, primarily Jamaican community. We contacted community leaders, both 
religious and civic and network through the cast members. The true measure of this 
play's success was determined in two ways. The level of involvement of all of the 
participants, working diligently, I felt aided in making the language and story ring true. 
However, to present to a highly critical public, primarily Jamaican, their feedback would 
indicate whether or not the play truly achieved its objectives. 

In the Social Change Stage we worked on this language-based project in which 
dialect is central to the theatrical credibility of the work. It is one thing to have primarily 
Jamaicans viewing this work in their native tongue; it is another to have non- Jamaicans 
experience this production. Will they understand it? Will the dialect help or hinder the 
production? Fortunately the feedback from our workshop production was positive. We 
mounted in 1992 our premiere on the main stage at Roxbury Community College. This 
workshop performance was well attended by the community with roughly 250 people in 
attendance. 

The Empowerment Stage happened in the form of feedback received, which 
fortunately was very favorable. Many community members have requested this and 
similar productions done in the dialect of the community it depicts. One request was to 



102 

develop a play on the life of Toussaint L'Ouverture the founder of Haiti. We would 
eventually like to mount a professional production of the Mighty Jajah, during the annual 
weekend of the Boston Caribbean Festival. Below is a summary model of the process: 



The Mighty Jajah: A Jamaican Relaity 



The Pre Stage 


Involved students and community 
residents consensus on working to 
assisting in the development of a 
play thematically focused on the 
importance of cultural heritage. 


The Development Stage 


Assist in transforming the 
developing script from plain English 
to Jamaican patwa. 
Develop cast of mostly Caribbean 
and train them on the nuances of 
Jamaican dialect. 

Develop a script that is culturally 
rich through a process of charcter 
development, script review, and 
constant researching of material. 
Rehearse the play incorporating 
various acting techniques focused on 
character development 


The Production Stage 


Invite the community to participate 
in the encounter through a workshop 
production. 


The Social Change Stage 


Dialogue with cast members during 
post performance to conduct 
individual and collective 
performance analysis. 


The Empowerment Stage 


Solicit feedback on theeffectivness 
of the encounter from audience 
participants. 



103 

V. Summary 

In my capacity as professor of Theatre Arts and chairperson of the Arts and 
Humanities Department I have had the fortunate opportunity to engage both my students 
and the Greater Roxbury community in many participatory theatre encounters. Although 
with a small department and operating with next to no resources we have been able to 
create very successful educational theatre projects. The teaching methodology we have 
employed is to infuse the visual, performing, and literary arts across the curriculum. 

Two weeks prior to the premiere of a production of Charles Fuller's Zooman an 
the Sign^ , a play about black-on-black crime in which a girl is killed in broad daylight in 
the crossfire of a gang altercation and how the family, community, and ultimately the 
perpetrator deals with this dilemma, a little girl. Tiffany Moore is actually killed in the 
neighborhood (Roxbury), under similar circumstances as in the play (set in Philadelphia). 
As technical Director for the production I felt that it was important for us as a theater 
company to in some way address this issue. 

Not knowing it at the time I was actually creating a Pre-Stage Process 
environment for Encounter Theatre. In a production meeting I stated my concerns about 
how this incident directly or indirectly affected all of us. I said I felt that we needed to 
engage the audience in a post-performance discussion of the theme of the play and how it 
relates to the current plight in the community. Anyone in the community that wanted to 
stay after the show could stay and share in this discussion. Everyone liked the idea. The 
Pre-Stage process established the initial collective agreement but we needed to devise an 
approach to achieve this objective. We then moved to the Developmental Stage. 



^' Produced by Black Folk's Theater Company at the C. Walsh Theater at Suffolk University in 1988. 



104 

In the Developmental-Stage Process we created and agreed on the methodology. 
Someone suggested that the stage manager would make an announcement at the end of 
the performance, following the second curtain call. The announcement would be to 
invite the audience to stay for an informal discussion about the theme of the play and its 
relevancy to recent events that has happened in the community. Someone else said that 
we could not place a time limit on the duration of these discussions, if people wanted to 
stay for 15 minutes then the discussion would be that long, if they wanted to stage 30 
minutes so be it, there were no arguments, everyone was in agreement. Primarily 
because we all have at this point thoroughly absorbed the play's content and thematic 
essence, and director's intent. We now wanted to attempt to address the message of the 
play. The discussion moved to process, with questions concerning who would participate 
and moderate and who would not? The director was adamant about not moderating the 
discussion, she felt that she needed to take a traditional approach and be merely an 
audience participant at that point. We all agreed. Someone said why not have the 
community moderate? We brainstormed a bit and what came together collectively was 
the approach of inviting community leaders to come to the production. This would make 
the flow of the discussion more impartial, and keep all in attendance on task. If they 
wanted to moderate we would allow them the opportunity, if they declined that they 
merely wanted to participate we respected their wishes. Not knowing what to expect we 
decided to proceed with this initiative. 

The Production-Stage Process happened simultaneously with the premiere of the 
play and its subsequent run. We received a tremendous response from the community. 
Many community leaders accepted our invitation to attend the performance and 



105 

participate as moderators, or audience participants. At the end of each performance the 
stage manager would make an announcement, all the actors, producers, directors, and 
non-essential stagehands would come out and sit on the apron of the stage demonstrating 
their willingness to participate in a discussion. With the exception of a few audience 
members leaving at some performance's end, the majority stayed. 

The Social Change Stage Process happened during these discussions. Actors 
and technicians imparted their knowledge and experience not just of the play but also of 
their own community life's experiences relative to the discussion. Participating in this 
exchange of views demonstrated the power of the encounter process. Actually after 
several performances the discussion lasted a length equal to that of the production's 
length. The community wanted and needed to discuss this topic. 

The Empowerment Process occurred once each patron left the theatre. As each 
one headed back to their neighborhoods they went with a sense of purpose. To what 
degree is their social change? It varies with each individual experience. This is one 
example of taking a traditional theatrical experience and making it a true encounter in 
which all involved are enlightened and empowered. In order to actually make this 
encounter happen we had to ascribe to the five-stage process. 

Yvonne Murphy a local actress and performer in several of my productions over 
the years was a part of the technical crew and an audience participant in several of the 
post performance discussions. The following except is from an interview 1 had with her 
in whom I asked her to recall her experience of those discussions: 

I remember many years ago I had the pleasure of seeing this play 
performed here in Boston, presented by a then popular theatre 



106 

organization/collaboration by the name of the Black Folks Theater 
Company. Many people who were connected with that production have 
since continued to have an impact in education and theatre in this small 
community called Boston, and beyond. And I remember when the play 
concluded each night, the audiences refused to leave. They were riveted 
to their seats; and alive with emotion. Fuller's story had touched an acute 
nerve. Many stayed to passionately argue relevant points and concerns. 
Some were loud, others more reserved, not all were eloquent, but all were 
heard. All were engaged and voluntarily invested, fighting for 
understanding, fighting for their community. You see, just weeks before 
Zooman and The Sign premiered, a young girl by the name of Tiffany 
Moore was - on vacation from the South visiting her grandma, innocently 
sitting atop a mailbox on a street comer in Roxbury one hot summer's day 
and got caught amidst the cross-fire of a local gang shootout- killed by a 
stray bullet not intended for her. 

Coincidence?... No particularly. You see, neither time nor place dilutes the 
power nor haunting effect of this story - for as long as this phenomenon 
continues to replay itself from city to city, from incident to incident, as 
long as violence rules the streets and the idea of Community 
Responsibility continues to fail as crime occurs in our own backyards then 
Fuller's message is relevantly riveting; and effectively disturbing. Now, I 
don't know for sure if the audiences left with any lasting resolutions from 
our long and thoughtful Q & A sessions, but I do know this: they all were 



107 

desperate to talk about the issues presented in the performance; and 

discussion can lead to understanding, understanding can potentially lead to 

action, and group action almost always leads to or ends in change. And 

that is the greatest legacy any work of non-fiction can hope to have - a 

thought provoking impact. 

Today through the use of Encounter Theatre I have developed an Associates of 

Arts Degree program in Theatre Arts, which lead to the formation of other concentrations 

in Musical Arts, Visual Arts and Humanities; currently we are developing a curriculum in 

Dance as well as an Africana Studies Program. Each of these Associate Degree 

Programs has a participatory element, similar to a conservatory approach, as part of the 

required curriculum. In the Theatre Arts concentration students are exposed to the both 

the technical and performing aspect of the art. Further along in their studies students are 

required to write an in depth research report and complete a field experience on a 

particular area of interest theatre. These areas of interest; for example acting techniques, 

theatre design, costuming, directing, or even playwriting, are triggered by their encounter 

experience. Since many students would have through selected courses, have had the 

experience of Encounter Theatre they would now venture into its techniques through 

their own projects. The central focus is on the quality of the encounter. Remember to 

develop a quality product through an educationally enriching and rewarding process. 

Over the years some of the projects that students have undertaken have been at the 

Boston Renaissance School for the Performing Arts, WGBH-TV and The Wang Center. 

These projects have always engaged students and community participants in stimulating 

activities. 



108 

Chapter Three: 

Development of 
WORDS OF REFLECTION 

Boston's Black History in the Making 

Introduction 

Each year of high school were years of major change. My freshman year the 
school was all male and 90+ percent African American. The resources were meager and 
the instruction was marginal. Often times our daily routine would be punctuated by 
either a fire alarm being pulled, or a fight breaking out in the gym or the cafeteria, 
causing disruption in the institutuion. Sophomore year Boston high schools became 
coeducational which literally balance the sexual make up the school, and I believe 
diminished some of the flagrant negative outbursts. I survived my sophomore year, 
which would be the only year that I physically stayed in a normal classroom setting for 
the entire year. My junior year I was accepted into a program called V.A.L.U.E. (Visual 
Arts Laboratory in Urban Education) in which I along with a select group of Boston 
English High School students were relocated to 45 Myrtle Street on the north slope of 
Beacon Hill. During this academic year we would learn about video production and 
graphic arts, with basic education sprinkled in rounding out the curriculum. This was 
another turning point for me, for it was on Beacon Hill, when major events were taking 
place, which would have a positive impact on the African American community of New 
England and my knowledge of it. 

First the Black Heritage Trail was established. Patterned after the Boston 
Freedom Trail it was a trail that told of the history of Boston's first black community by 
physically showing existing landmarks. These sites included the African Meeting House, 



109 

the Augustus St. Gaudens' Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Monument across 
from the State House, the home of Abolitionist Louis Hayden, and other significant 
locations. We were located around the comer of The African Meeting House-the oldest 
standing Black Church building in the country. We witnessed its renovation and for the 
first time became aware of the significant contributions of African Americans to New 
England history 

During my senior year, when court ordered bussing took effect and I was to be 
reassigned to West Roxbury High. This created a very stressful situation. All of a sudden 
I was being forced out of a learning environment that sheltered me from the ills of urban 
blight. I watched many of my friends get reassigned to Dorchester High and West 
Roxbury High, a few of my good friends were fortunate to live in the newly drafted 
district, now the Ruggles Transit Station area, that allowed them to remain at English 
High and thus sty in the program. After thinking long and hard what to do, I finally 
figured out a way that 1 could remain in the program. I asked my brother Leroy if he 
would allow me to use his address, which was in the new English High School district, 
and he agreed. This involved formally making my older brother my legal guardian in 
order for the school officials to accept me as a continuing English High School student. 
We went through the process and I continued in the program for my senior year. I am 
eternally grateful for my brother being there for me. 

During the fall of that year, I took an introductory architecture course at Harvard's 
School of Design. I created and donated a linoleum block print of the Black Heritage 
Trail to the Museum of Afro-American History the caretakers of the African Meeting 
House, and also developed an interest in pursuing a college education. 1 knew that in 



110 

order to get in to college I needed to have certain courses under my belt, science, 
language, and English composition. I ask for and was granted special permission to 
attend English High once a week to attend my Biology, Spanish, and Senior English 
classes. The arrangement was contingent upon the individual instructors' approval, and 
my agreement to completing all assignment required. These instructors gave no breaks. I 
went to English High on Wednesday mornings and turned in my weekly assignments 
collected my next week's assignments and took my weekly tests. It was difficult at first 
and caused minor morale problems in class when other students became aware of my 
'special status.' However, all that went away when my classmates saw that 1 was working 
hard at the lessons and that the teachers truly were not giving me preferential treatment. 

During my senior year, 1 became more and more interested in the history of 
Black's in Boston. Part of this was again due to being on Beacon Hill, an oasis away 
from the madness of the bussing situation. Another part of it was being in the company 
of teachers and students that were very supportive and encouraged me to pursue my 
interests. And still another part of it was due to my newfound confidence in interpersonal 
expression. All of this is background that led me to become involved in a project at the 
African Meeting House. My most extended play further developed my theory of 
Encounter Theatre. 

African- Americans have been present and intrinsically a part of Greater Boston's 
history for went over 350 years, yet the significance of this history has been largely 
ignored or has gone unknown. My trilogy explores the history of Boston's African- 
American community spanning the period beginning in 1790 through 1954.^^ 



■ Chapter Four includes the complete Words of Reflection Trilogy. 



Ill 

Through the use of Encounter Theatre students and adults are encouraged to learn 
more about the history of New England African-Americans and become involved in 
teaching this history to others. The specific objectives of this project are: 

(1) To enhance the educational efforts of schools, colleges and other institutions 
by engaging students and adults in culturally enriching theatrical activities; 

(2) To highlight the richness of Greater Boston's Black history; and 

(3) To strengthen a network of institutions and scholars who will collaborate on 
ongoing public programming efforts. 



112 

II. Words of Reflection Trilogy Brief Overview 

The trilogy is divided into three one-act participatory plays: Words of Resistance, 
Words of Revolt, and Words of Renaissance. The trilogy's text is created by the use of 
connecting real stories via a narrator that in chronological order tells of the historical 
development of the African American community of Greater Boston. These stories, 
many eyewitness accounts, both poshive and negative, tell of the trials and tribulations of 
Blacks in and around Boston during the 1 8"^, 1 9"^, and early 20"^ Century. Audience and 
actors share performance space during the encounter with the outcome being one of 
mutual discovery about the historical meaning and significance of Black presences of 
Greater Boston. Each is explained in detail. 

Words of Resistance (1790-1850) highlights the founding of Boston's first African- 
American church -The African Meeting House- in response to the exclusion of Black 
people from the main pews of local white churches. Appearances are made by Lewis and 
Harriet Hayden (Underground Railroad), William and Ellen Craft (runaway slave), 
Robert Morse (first Black Massachusetts attorney), abolitionist Charles Lenox Redmond, 
William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, political activist author David Walker, and 
Black Church cofounders Cato Gardner, Scipio Dahon, P.G. Smith, and G.H. Holmes. 
Key events include the founding of the Smith School in the basement of the African 
Meeting House in 1820, Prudence Crandall's Boarding School in Canterbury, CT. in 
ISSl''^, and the 1849 lawsuit to desegregate Boston's schools. Words of Resistance covers 



"The Prudence Crandall Boarding School incident in Canterbury, CT., although not of the Greater Boston 
community, many Black Bostonians attended this school and were affected by it. The affect of racial 
hostility that this Black boarding school in New England encountered is highlighted in fVords of 
Reflection. 



113 

local and national events spanning the period 1790 through 1854, which had a direct 
impact on the African American community of New England. Initially, the project 
centered on the impact of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. As the project developed, and 
more data pertaining to the history of free Blacks during this period was added the project 
began to expand. To keep the project manageable, I maintained the original format of the 
participatory drama, that is, maintained the narrator as the primary, present-day story 
teller with the secondary characters appearing as voices from the past. 

Words of Revolt (1850-1919) covers the aftermath of the struggle over the Fugitive Slave 
Act, the Civil War and the struggle for Emancipation, and Reconstruction. Highlights 
include the creation of educational opportunities and major Black churches which were 
formed after the African Meeting House (Charles Street AME, Concord Baptist, and 
Twelfth Baptist), and such issues as the repatriation movement and the founding of 
Liberia, the ramifications of the Amistad Mutiny and court case of 1839, the Niagara 
Movement concluding with the return of African- American soldiers from World War 1 . 
Words of Revolt starts with the aftermath of the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act and 
spans more than a half century through 1919 covering events such as the Civil War, 
Reconstruction, Black migration from the south to the North, the birth of Jim Crow laws. 
World War 1, and historical events connected to the development of Boston's Black 
community. In addition, the major dialogues, correspondence and great debates between 
such figures as Abraham Lincoln and Stephens, Frederick Douglass and various figures 
during his day, W. E. B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, Washington and William 
Monroe Trotter and others are included. 



114 



Words of Renaissance (1919-1954) covers the movement of African-Americans from the 
North Slope of Beacon Hill to the South End and Lower Roxbury, after the selling of the 
African Meeting House. Voices focus on the beginning of Black migration to Boston 
from the South, Africa and the Caribbean, and other developments that led up to the Civil 
Rights Era. Topics covered are the development of the Pan-African Movement, The 
Universal Negro Improvement Association lead by Marcus Garvey, The National 
Association for the Advancement of Colored People led by W. E. B. DuBois, the Black 
Arts Movement (such as the Harlem Renaissance), national and global political unrest 
and its impact on Boston's African American community. The trilogy ends with the 
landmark Brown verses The Board of Education case. 

The African Meeting House is the foundation, or environment from which the 
premise of the play springs to life. As stated earlier in my introduction, The African 
Meeting House developed an historical source book on its history. The play that would 
later be known as Words of Resistance I wrote as a companion play to that text. I also 
developed material on the history or misinterpretation of history of the people of the 54"^ 
Massachusetts Colored Regiment during the Civil War.^" The goal of this reader was to 
expose students in an exploratory way, in a process of discovering the true history of 
these individuals and the sacrifices they made for the hberation of their people. Coupled 
with the performances of Words of Revolt, and Words of Renaissance students and 
teachers will gain important background knowledge of this historical period. More 
importantly they will begin to see history from a varied perspective. 



'"* See Appendix A 



115 

This trilogy of one-act plays offers a unique encounter for all participants. Each 
work running approximately 50 minutes affords participants an opportunity to experience 
what it was like to live in Greater Boston during these periods. As a learning tool 
participants experience history in the making and come away with a more personal 
awareness of the people, places and events in history. As a social tool participants 
experience often for the first time what it feels likes to walk in someone else's shoes. As 
an educator the most gratifying experience I have had is in the testimonies of student 
actors who encounter personal insightful discoveries about this living history. They are 
then empowered with this new knowledge and are challenged to impart this learned 
information to others, thus extending the encounter beyond the performance space. 



116 



The Encounter Theatre Process 
Words Of Reflection Trilogy 



Pre-Stage 


Performing group made up of former and 
current students, and community members 
come to a consensus about their level of 
participation. 


Development Stage 


Involved two steps, the development of the 
play for performance, and the development 
of the ensemble to perform the play. 


Production Stage 


The play is designed for performance by 
five actors: two female, three male, with 
the addition of a narrator. 

Words Of Resistence: interactive 
discussion about effects of Fugitive Slave 
Act of 1950 

Words Of Revolt: Interactive participation 
and discussion about the 1905 lecture of 
Booker T. Washington held at the 
Columbus Avenue AME Church. Incident 
dubbed. The Boston Riot. 

Words Of Renaissance: Interactive 
participation and discussion about the Jazz 
Scene of Boston circa 1940's and its 
influence on the developing community 
post World War II. 


Social Change Stage 


Stimulate, educate, and motivate 
participants through the encounter 
experience ultimately sparking the desire to 
effect social change. 


Empowerment Stage 


The specific objectives of this project are: 

1. To enhance the educational efforts of 
schools, colleges and other institutions 
by engaging students and adults in 
culturally enriching theatrical 
activities; 

2. To highlight the richness of Greater 

Boston's Black history; and 

3. To strengthen a network of institutions 

and scholars who will collaborate on 
ongoing public programming efforts. 



117 

The Pre Stage: Students and community participants involved in the project 
came to a consensus about their level of participation. Students who were concurrently 
enrolled in a related theatre class agreed upon the academic requirements that their 
involvement would satisfy. 

...you were able to, since most of us were in the classes, we were able to 
take class time to even work more on it [the Project]... most of us had a 
hard time identifying with the characters. That's why you picked two 
particular people out, Grendle and Derrick, because they already came 
with [theatre] backgrounds. But the rest of us it was totally brand new to 
us. But we did have the willingness to take on the project... you made it 
fim David. You are very likeable. You sold it well. And during that 
period of time, I know I can at least speak for myself, I was more into that 
militant stage. So I was really interested and curious about anything 
Black. So that for me, that's what drawn me to your project. 

(Terry 2004) 

Those from the community agreed upon participating based on their beliefs in the 

project's benefits to the larger community. 

You are very passionate about your work, and it reads in your enthusiasm. 
And so you're able to gamer, or grab people... sweep people up in your 
enthusiasm. And folks that are willing to step up and learn new things or 
be involved in learning usually tend to stick with you. I remember being 
invited and we went to a rehearsal where I think it was mostly people from 
your Acting class, and I saw some people that I knew, and then other 



118 

people that I didn't know... and they were like... .some were on the fence, 

others were really excited... and that is what made me stay on during the 

first rehearsal process. Okay there is some sort of momentum here going 

on, then you talked about going to the actual museum. . .and really learning 

about these characters, that they were related to history, cormecting this 

to... they did this in Boston. There were a lot of different points that stood 

out for me. (Murphy 2004) 

The Development Stage involved two steps, the creation of the play and the 

development of the ensemble to perform the play. Words of Reflection: Boston's Black 

History in the Making is presented in storytelling form. The trilogy relies on actual 

commentary derived fi"om journals, letters, and speeches of those who experienced these 

various historical events. The time frame of this trilogy covers 1790 through 1954. I 

chose to begin just after the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts (1790). However slave 

trading and trafficking in Massachusetts still persisted well in to the 1 800's and the state 

and the country were constantly dealing with the dilemma of living with major 

contradictions concerning slavery. There is a free Black community in New England as 

well as a slave community. Are all men created equal? Is a slave a man? What actor and 

participants were involved in was a thorough actor training and play development 

process. 

Yeah, when you actually ask everyone to come together. Okay people we 
have to rehearse this damn thing. So when are we going to get together? 
We had to get together.... We had to open up our books and figure out our 
schedules, then everybody started to say hey this is for real. And let's do 



119 

this. There was a date that was involved, an end point. Yeah, you had all 

this vision of, we're going to go down to the African Meeting House, and 

you were like, Frederick Douglass spoke here. All this stuff that you just 

take for granted, or you think is just cliche, or it's very distant. Frederick 

Douglass is a great man but you don't actually think of him speaking here 

and making pivotal speeches here in Boston. And who was his audience 

and things of that nature? That was when we actually started doing the 

rehearsal process for me. It became a real thing to do. And people started 

getting me on board. (Murphy 2004) 

The project requires a performance by a theatre ensemble, which is a group of actors with 

interchangeable roles at any given performance. Once the talent was identified and the 

training and rehearsal process was complete the project proceeded to the production 

stage. In addition I worked on communication skills such as, production, articulation and 

enunciation, posture and movement. This stage of the encounter theatre process is the 

most lengthy since skill development cannot happen rapidly. The duration of this stage 

could last as little as several weeks or an academic semester, sometimes even an 

academic year. The product being produced dictates the length. In theatre terms the 

opening performance date will indicate how much time will be devoted to the preparation 

and development of the project for production. 

The Production Stage incorporates the essence of all three one-act plays, thus the 
production of Words of Reflection: Boston 's Black History in the Making is actually a 
trilogy of these one-act plays combined and staged as a production with one intermission. 
The play is designed for performance by five actors: two female, three male, with the 



120 

addition of a narrator. Preference is given to an all-black cast however; at least one male 
and possibly one female role could be cast with white actors. Four of the actors represent 
the voices (1,2,3, & 4); in addition they cover the range of characters (both negative and 
positive). The fifth actor serves as a historical footnote through out the play (newspaper 
reporter, community resident, politician.). This actor, who is male, represents individuals 
whose roles and actions were pivotal points in New England African American history. 
The narrator is the present-day storyteller who guides the participants through the 
encounter. 

The Social Change Stage involves discoveries both individual and collective 
about the worth of the encounter. Finding value in what you have experienced is vital for 
it will motivate you to want to use this newfound understanding [knowledge] in a very 
productive way. They discover that the encounter was not just a performance but an 
educational experience from which they individually and collectively learned about a 
piece of history, shared it with various communities, and in the process came to know 
more about each other and about themselves. 

Michael Thierry a local actor, artist, and educator who has been working with 
various productions of the Words of Reflection project for more than fifteen years 
comments about his experience: 

As an actor and educator I was interested in doing performances that had 
social relevance within the community of Roxbury, as a long-time resident 
I was impressed with the level of community support to grassroots theatre 
productions... it never ceases to amaze me how relevant African 
American/Black History is to all Americans. The very principles. 



121 

precepts, and foundations of the liberty espoused by our founding fathers 
were made reality only through the trials and tribulations of the African in 
America. I have used historical data from the play when discussing things 
like gentrification in Boston, answering why neighborhoods are so racially 
and ethnically diverse and oftentimes divided. Also in speaking to 
students about the community of the American experience from the 
N.I.N.A. (No Irish Need Apply) signs of 19"^ century Boston, to the 
separate but equal 'Jim Crow' legislation fought against by men such as 
A. Philip Randolph and Martin Luther King you could not have men like 
these without the Maria Stewart's and Scipio Dalton's of the distant past. 
They paved the way. 

I enjoyed the plays and traveling to different locales including the 
historical African Meeting House/Museum of Afro-American History. 
What was most enjoyable was watching grade school students get an 
understanding that the battle for freedom in America was an ongoing one 
fought on many levels even in their own neighborhoods. I enjoyed the 
question and answer sessions where they would put themselves in the 
place of their ancestors and realize there was no one to phone, no one to 
order a tank or aircraft carrier from, the Abolitionist and opposers of 
Slavery had to rely on themselves, self-reliance was and is the reality of 
Black America... one moment in particular that stands out is when one 
actor posing as a slave catcher questions a small white child about 10 



122 

years old about whether he knew where the escaped slaves were hiding 
and the child became so distraught he started crying and tried to hit the 
actor. After that experience we decided to tone down the acting but keep 
the information when dealing with younger crowds. 

(Thierry 2004) 
A very powerful moment when the acting reaches a level of realism when audience 
participants are so moved that they want to act out. This is another aspect of social 
change transitioning into empowerment. 

I remember watching Arthur do his thing. Kind of gets that proud peacock 
thing going on. Chest all out... There goes Arthur! 1 remember watching 
him do that and being very proud of him being walked dowoi the aisle. 
Take the podium and actually go through his monologue with this 
momentum behind him. I remember listening to Derrick singing, I 
remember just before all this began and the doors would open as we began 
the play Derrick and Arthur arguing over what parts they wanted to play. 
The skirmishes that happened upstairs in the church, there is a lot that I 
remember as far as emotion is concerned. The ensemble piece is a very 
proud moment when you see the machine finally turning and you see 
things happen around you and you kick in and do your part. I remember 
being petrified. Will this really go off? Was there people out there, were 
they going to like what we are going to do, will they understand it? Were 
we going to be able to convey what we got out of the process before we 
got on the stage? Which was an in-depth understanding of what these 



123 

people went through at the time? This Abolitionist Movement... [the 

play] it really makes the word abolition have meaning other than this big 

long term. And that Abolitionists were comprised of Black and 

White... What was their socioeconomic stature? They were farmers, they 

were merchants, they were actually well to do writers. . . it was like this big 

coalition. And why in Words of Resistance these particular people who 

came to the forefront to speak to abolitionist were so inspiring. (Murphy 

2004) 

The Empowerment Stage begins almost immediately upon the social realization 

process. Individually participants often probe deeper into the historical backgrounds of 

the characters they encounter. They want to know more about their lives and how these 

individuals' contributions to society made an impact then and now. The discovery that 

someone's effort was the catalyst for change is an exciting moment because it 

personalizes their history where the individual who performed the character develops an 

identifying connection with the historical figure. 

Collectively the group often wants to continue to perform, feeling that with each 
additional encounter they will become better performers thus making the product more 
polished and at the same time spread the knowledge. 

In every Act of Words someone learned something, either through the 
performance or the viewing. In speaking the words it brings new life to 
them and one cannot but marvel at how some of the problems of today's 
world can still be addressed profoundly by the words of our predecessors 
the builders of true freedom in the Americas. This is the legacy of African 



124 

Americans, Blacks, Coloreds; whatever we have been called in antiquity 
we are the most profound champions of freedom the world has ever 
known. Encounter Theatre brings the past to life and ignites in the young a 
thirst to know more about themselves for these are supermen and wonder 
women so amazing is the fact these voices were of real people. As an 
educator performing allows you to experience different viewpoints and 
sometimes can cause an epiphany into the depths of meaning a few Words 
of Resistance can hold. (Thierry 2004) 

The Role of Theatre Arts Internship Students in Encounter Theatre: 

The Theatre Arts Internship course is an independent theatre study course at 
Roxbury Community College (RCC) developed for those interested in learning, from 
exposure and first-hand experience, the multifaceted world of theatre. Students must be 
interviewed prior to enrolling to determine if this is an appropriate match. The criteria for 
enrollment and the academic standards of the course are very demanding. Students 
concentrating in Theatre Arts who have completed their prerequisites are given top 
priority. As part of their program of study they are required to work as part of an 
ensemble on several productions both on and off campus to give them the widest possible 
academic experience and exposure. Students who are in other arts concentrations desiring 
a different art experience to complement their academic studies are encouraged and 
welcomed to participate. Those students who come with prior demonstrated arts 
experience (from prior performance work), assessed artistic ability (through the interview 
process), and/or recommendation from RCC's Counseling and Placement Service 



125 

(through the counseling and assessment process) are considered for enrollment. The 
course involved a major commitment of time and energy requiring that students to be 
willing to give commit on an average of approximately ten to fifteen hours per week 
devoted to pre-production, development (rehearsal), and performance objectives. All 
activities are approached from a conservatory perspective, that is, students are 
indoctrinated into an ensemble philosophy that creates no one star performer. Each 
individual will have their moment in the 'limelight.' Team building is the most important 
value the group can achieve in this process. 

Here is an example of the Social Change Stage at work. Students who 
performed at Lesley College on March 5"^, 1998 in the production of Words of Resistance 
were thrown off track just prior to the performance when one of the acting students was 
called away for an emergency within an hour before the performance. At that time in the 
group only two students had any prior acting experience, one who left and one with some 
true semi-professional acting experience. This was the first time they would be in front of 
an audience as a group. It could have resulted in disaster. To put myself in their 
emotional shoes I had to take on the role of an ensemble member and demonstrate the 
team concept of when one player is missing it is up to the group to compensate. The 
student who was now absent had two major roles, and 1 assumed one. That was to lead 
the audience in singing the Negro Spiritual Oh Freedom immediately after the horrific 
tale of the brutal mutilation and murder of a slave. Not being a singer, I had to conceal 
my nervousness from the students and proceed. Also just prior to the performance I told 
the only student with prior acting experience, Franz, that the second half of the show is in 
his hands, and that I will literally leave the playing space and he must end the show. 



126 

The Empowerment Stage that took place was when Franz not only ended the 
play successfully, but also led the audience in a discussion about the Fugitive Slave Act 
of 1850, which engaged the entire house. Without his motivation, 'stepping up to the 
plate,' the participatory element of the play would have been compromised. In this 
production students demonstrated a level of commitment and maturity that resulted in a 
successful performance, which I am extremely appreciative. 



127 



Encounter Theatre Process 



Lesley University Words of Resistance Performance 



Pre-Stage 


Students and community participants 
involved in the project came to a consensus 
about their level of participation. 

Students who where currently enrolled in a 
related theatre class agreed upon the 
academic requirements that their 
involvement would satisfy. 


Development Stage 


Involved two steps, the creation of the play 
and the development of the ensemble to 
perform the play. 


Production Stage 


The play is designed for performance by 
five actors: two female, three male, with 
the addition of a narrator. 

Students are indoctrinated into an ensemble 
philosophical approach that creates no one 
star performer. Each individual has their 
moment in the 'limelight,' Team Building 
is the most important value the group can 
achieve in the production process. 


Social Change Stage 


First time students performed as group 
Hour before performance students took on 
additional roles due to performer's absence 


Empowerment Stage 


Student takes on Educator role 
Leads interactive discussion about 
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 



128 

III. Development of the Words of Reflection Trilogy 
Historical Overview 

A. Words of Resistance (1790-1854) 

Boston's black community development has been greatly influenced by local and 
national social, economic and political trends. Events, such as immigration and its effect 
on housing, job shortages, education, and political representation, had a unique effect on 
the development of Boston's blaclc community. 

England's King Charles I persecution of the Puritans caused a great exodus from 
English citizens to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. However slavery in a Puritan society 
was much different than in other parts of the American Colonies. Due to the socio- 
economic climate and religious conditions in Boston, slavery as an institution did not 
flourish. In 1638 European slave traders brought the first Africans to Boston, via the 
West Indies. They were brought to replace the Native Americans as laborers. 

By 1643 the population of the Bay Colony rose to over 15,000 and just prior to 
the war for independence the total population neared 20,000. During the early 1700's 
Boston was a town with a rather high percentage of blacks in its population. "In 1752, 10 
percent of the city's population was black, numbering just over fifteen hundred persons." 
(Horton, Black Bostonians, p.vii) During the American Revolution the population of 
Boston diminished to an all time low of about 6,000. This decline was due to many 
fleeing the New England area too during the war. This had a direct impact on the black 
population because the wealthy Tories who fled Boston to the north [Canada] took their 
slaves with them. 



, 129 

Although in 1 700 a Boston committee tried to stop the trafficking of black slaves, 
slavery continued to be a part of New England life. Throughout this period most New 
Englanders were seafarers or merchants, occupations that proved to be more highly 
profitable than those New Englanders who participated in slavery as slave traders. 

The principles and ideals expressed in revolutionary Boston, the important 
role Boston's blacks played in the war effort, and the declining economic 
importance of local slavery combined to give rise to a strong abolitionist 
spirit among Boston's revolutionary generation, whites as well as blacks. 
This spirit created the climate for the 1783 decision by the Massachusetts 
Supreme Court that slavery was inconsistent with the provisions of the 
1780 state constitution. With the state's abolition of slavery, Boston's 
blacks could expand their efforts to build their community. 

(Horton 1993:26) 
By the turn of the 19th Century Boston appeared to be a promising community for 
African Americans. 

In the census record of 1790, the first ever taken in Massachusetts [and the 
nation], Boston's African American population numbered about .3%. Although by the 
1790's the overall population of Boston rose to 18,000 the black percentage was only 
marginal, just under eight hundred or about .3 percent. For the rest of the century, the 
black population of Boston would never reach the level of pre- 1750. This was more 
likely due to the industrialization period's demand for workers in the mills and textile 
industries where competition for work with White laborers created employment obstacles 
and thus many Blacks sought gainful employment elsewhere. 



130 

By the turn of the 19th century, Boston's African American community rose 
slightly to .4% or less than 1,000 out of a population of 25,000 "(Hayden 4).. .and by 1810 
it [the population of Boston] had gone well beyond 30,000-a five fold increase in 35 
years." (O'Connor 65) This percentage however is misleading. African Americans were 
documented not independently by name but in a general, "mass" category as 'Negroes' 
attached to their respective white household if they were slaves. The free 'Negroes', who 
labored as domestics and stable keepers, made up the majority of this percentage and 
lived near their employer's residence, these individuals primarily were the only ones 
recorded in the early census records. Those trades' people who worked through out the 
city may have been listed in the occupational directory. The remaining percentage of the 
African American community of Boston was simply not recorded. 

The Boston city directory or census lists all trades of economic importance such 
as black smiths, ship caulkers, whalers, even barbers [hairdressers]. Boston's African 
Americans, due to social restrictions, customs and practice, where limited to what 
occupations they could hold. Most Black males worked along the docks as seamen or 
long shore men, others owned provision shops and used clothing shops. There were a 
high number of barbers through out Boston, one of the few trades that blacks at this time 
had a monopoly. The directory gave the names of 32 "hairdressers," most owners of 
shops, situated in every part of the city. There were 14 clothes shops, most of them on 
Brattle Street, a junk shop, a provision shop, and 4 boarding houses. Although this would 
imply that the passing of slavery in Massachusetts had not produced any sweeping 
change in the local economic and industrial position of this group, it would seem that a 



^' By 1820 the Black population of Boston reached 1,690-source Robert C. Hayden, African -Americans in 
Boston: More Than 350 Years 



. 131 

promising proportion of African Americans had become business proprietors. (Horton & 
Horton 129) 

For the most part, blacks lived close to their respective occupations. Gainfiil 
employment often times varied daily and depended on one's ability to be in the right 
place at the right time. This would partly justify the overcrowded conditions for African 
Americans across from Charlestown along the wharves, where many were tied to the 
shipping and fishing industries, when in other parts of the city there was plenty of open 
space to build housing. Another hindrance was transportation since there was only one 
roadway, [the neck which is now Washington Street] which connected Boston proper to 
the rest of the area. Until adequate transportation is established, allowing more timely 
traversal of workers to and fi-om their places of employment, Boston would continue to 
have selected overcrowded living conditions, not by choice but by design. 

Given the small percentage of the population. Black Bostonians were receiving a 
disproportionate share of unemployment and economic hardship. Even abolitionists, who 
rallied in support of black causes, afforded blacks' only menial labor. They were 
reluctant to give them truly gainful employment. The better jobs were afforded to the 
new immigrants that were descending upon Boston in great numbers. 

Cato Gardner and Scipio Dalton who were members of a predominantly White 
First Baptist Church of Boston between the years 1 772 and 1 805 were not accorded the 
same privileges as the white fellowship. They were assigned seats in the galleries (back 
of the balcony) where they could only hear, not see the preacher. They had no voting 
rights and their participation in church activities was limited to public worship and to 
services connected with births, baptisms, marriages and death. After the abolition of 



• 132 

slavery in Massachusetts in 1 790 the African American community of Boston began to 
mobilize and form a separate congregation that would provide relief from the 
discrimination they were experiencing in other Boston churches. Worship services were 
held in private homes, the old Franklin Hall on Nassau Street and often, the African 
American community used Annuli Hall. "By 1789, blacks had been granted the use of 
Faneuil Hall for religious meetings on Tuesday or Friday afternoon." (Horton, 79:40) 
Although these services were nondenominational, the leader was an African American 
Baptist preacher from New Hampshire, the Reverend Thomas Paul. 

With the leadership of Cato Gardner and Scipio Dalton letters went out to two 
white Baptist churches asking their assistance in the establishment of an African 
American church. The records of the First Baptist Church, which segregated hs Black 
membership, made the following advice to the two churches which offered assistance: 
"the delegates plainly dissuaded them [the blacks] from the admission of white members 
among them as they may ultimately become the minority and defeat their intentions of 
being an African Church." (Hayden 1983: 4) In 1805 both churches sent their pastors 
and deacons to assist in the official formation of the First African Baptist on August 8, 
1805. With twenty members, Thomas Paul was installed as the pastor. 

During that same year this church group purchased land on the North Slope of 
Beacon Hill in the then West End of Boston. At this time the African American 
community primarily existed near the wharves opposite Charlestown. The reason for this 
site choice is unknown, but since this was then open land and the black community was 
by then overcrowded, it was probably the best location not only for a church but also for 
the development of a new Black community. 



133 

Within a year of the land purchase, the Black community raised the necessary 
funds required for the building of their new church. Spearheaded by the fundraising 
efforts of Cato Gardner, who alone raised $1,500.00 of the $7,700.00 needed, the African 
Meeting House was built and in December of 1806 received its official dedication. A 
commemorative inscription above the front entrance of the Meeting House reads: "Cato 
Gardner, first Promoter of the Building 1806." An interesting historical footnote to 
mention is that mason George Holmes, one of the black builders of the Meeting House 
created the first hod to carry bricks and mortar that was ever used in Boston. 

In 1812, the Meeting House became a charter member of the Boston Baptist 
Association. By 1819 The African Meeting House boasted 100 financial members. 
However, due to the Reverend Paul's increasing missionary work, which included several 
trips to Haiti for the Home Mission Society and his failing health, he resigned in 1829. 
Upon his resignation, Reverend Paul commented about his church by saying: "1 planted 
the seed and Apollo watered it, but God made it grow." (I Corinthians 3:6) 

Between 1829 and 1840, with the departure of Reverend Paul, dissension grew 
among the membership, and with a succession of ministers coming and going, the First 
African Baptist Church reached a turning point. Under the leadership of Reverend G. H. 
Black (1838 -1841) the African Meeting House underwent a transition of major historical 
significance to the African American church community. In 1 840, 40 members of the 
African Baptist Church, for reasons unknown, split from the congregation and formed a 
new church (which would eventually be known as Twelfth Baptist Church. The current 
church, located on Warren Street near Dudley Square, has a plaque above its entrance, 
which reads: "the Second African Meeting House"). Reverend Black died a year later. 



« 134 

Prior to his death, in 1837 the African Baptist Church name was changed to the First 
Independent Baptist Church of People of Color of Boston, as the minutes of the 1838 
Boston Baptist Association states: "for the very good reason that the name African is ill 
applied to a church composed of American citizens."(Horton 1979: 91) 

The African Meeting House also served the educational needs of the Black 
families in Boston. In 1 808 a school for African American students was established in 
the Basement (street floor) of the Meeting House. Twenty-one years after the denial of a 
petition to the Massachusetts legislature for the admission of black students to the Boston 
Public Schools (1787) by Prince Hall, founder of the Masonic African Lodge, Black 
parents in 1808 requested a separate school for black students. When the City of Boston 
denied. Primus Hall, the son of Prince Hall established a community school in his home 
at the comer of West Cedar and Revere Streets on Beacon Hill. Shortly after establishing 
this school, his home became too small to accommodate the growing number of African 
American students and thus the school was moved to the African Meeting House. 
According to Stanley Schultz's book The Culture Factory, "The average Boston 
schoolroom of 1833 crammed one teacher and sixty-two students into a nineteen-by- 
twenty-six-foot space, and was often located in the densest most rundown sectors of 
town." (Wilson 94: 200) 

In 1 834 the City of Boston constructed the Smith School for black children. This 
was due to funds appropriated from the estate of Ariel Smith who in his will contributed 
the necessary funds for the construction of a school for black children. "The school's 
second black teacher, Prince Saunders (sometimes spelled Sanders), persuaded Abiel 
Smith, a white businessman, to write into his will funds for the education of black 



135 

children in Boston. Smith had already donated a hundred dollars to the construction of 
the Meeting House on the condition that it is used towards quarters for a "colored 
school." (Fraser et al, 79: 20-21) The community school was officially moved from the 
Meeting House to the comer of Joy and Smith Court. This did not satisfy the entire 
black community. William Cooper Nell in 1 840, believed separate was an unacceptable 
environment to learn in. He mounted a campaign to end Boston's school segregation 
practice. 

In 1849 Benjamin Roberts sued the City of Boston for denying his daughter Sarah 
to right to attend the school closest to her home. Although the Roberts vs. the City of 
Boston case had abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner and black attorney Robert Morris, 
Judge Lemuel Shaw in 1850 ruled against Roberts, arguing that Sarah was not denied 
adequate education, which was provided at the Abiel Smith School.''^ Not satisfied with 
these limited and for the most part inferior learning conditions, (the entire city's black 
children attended this one school) the black community protested first by petitioning the 
city (William Cooper Nell during the 1840's through early 50's), then by the courts 
(Roberts vs. The City of Boston in 1849). Eventually five years later, in 1855 fueled by 
furor over the Fugitive Slave Law (which required all citizens to assist in the capture of a 
fugitive) a bill was past by the Massachusetts legislature and sign by the Governor, Black 
children were allowed to enroll in any of the city's school. The Boston Black community 
was relentless in petifioning the City of Boston in regards to equal rights. By the fall of 



'''This school tradition, which began in the home of Prince Hail, founder of the blacic Masonic Lodge, soon 
relocated to the basement of the African Meeting House. Later due to the generosity of the Abiel Smith 
estate, the Smith School was established for the instruction of Boston's black children. 



136 

the next year the Abiel Smith School officially closed, as black children began to attend 
other Boston schools.''^ 

Not only was the African Meeting house the religious and educational focal point 
for the developing African American community, it was also the home of the Abolitionist 
Movement. For blacks of Boston the attainment of true freedom and full political rights 
was inexorably linked to the national abolition of slavery. As black and white Bostonians 
mobilized the African Meeting House became the hotbed of abolitionist agitation. 
Speakers like Lydia Maria Child, who wrote An Appeal In favor Of That Class of 
Americans Called Africans (1833), recited this and other personal works condemning 
slavery. William Lloyd Garrison founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society on 
January 6, 1832. Even the famed Frederick Douglass gave an address here rallying black 
men to enlist in the 54th and 55th all black regiments during the Civil War; his two oldest 
sons were among the first recruits. 



''This set a precedent for the separate but equal ruling in the Plessy versus Fergusson case of 1895 which 
would be later struck down by the brown versus the Board of Education in Topeka, KA. of 1 954. 



137 

B. Words of Revolt (1850-1919) 

By 1840 the black population had reached nearly two thousand. The limited job 
market was threatened by the wave of white immigration. The potato rot in Ireland in 
1845 and the repeal of the English Com Law in 1846 brought to an end Ireland's 
favorable position in the British trade system. This disastrous condition caused a mass 
influx of Irish immigrants to the United States. Most of these immigrants came to the city 
with no shelter or employment. They immediately became competitors for the low-wage 
jobs once almost exclusively held by Blacks. 

By 1850, Irish workers were filling over 7,000 laboring jobs. Jobs once held by 
blacks-cooks, porters, and laborers-were being steadily filled by these 'new' immigrants. 
By 1860 2.5 million Irish would immigrate to the United States, and those entering 
Boston rose from 443 in 1836 to more than 65,556 by 1846. 

In all, 87 percent of the city's laboring jobs in that year were being filled 
by foreign-bom workers, while blacks held only 1.5 percent of those jobs. 
Even given the small percentage of black workers, considering that the 
vast majority of blacks were unskilled workers, their percentage of the 
laborers was very low. By 1860, there was a decline in black laborers, 
while the number and percentage of foreign-bom laborers increased. 
Foreign-bom workers filled over 80 percent of the jobs as domestic 
servants, while blacks filled less than 2 percent. 

(Horton 1979:77) 



138 



Year 
1830 


Table 1^" 
BLACK POPULATION OF BOSTON, 1830-1860 


Total Population 
of Boston (thousands) 

61.4 


Black 
Population 

1.875 


% of Total 
Population 

3.1 


1840 


84.4 


1,988 


2.4 


1850 


136.9 


1,999 


1.5 


1860 


177.8 


2,261 


1.3 





Table 1 indicates that although black Bostonians grew in numbers between 1830 and 
1860 their overall percentage of Boston's population was rather small. 



Table 2^' 
LARGEST NORTHERN URBAN BLACK POPULATION 1860* 


City 
Philadelphia 


Black 
Population 
22,185 






% of Total 
Population 
3.9 


New York City 


12,472 






1.5 


Brooklyn, New York 


4.313 






1.6 


Cincinnati, Ohio 


3,737 






2.3 


*Even though these cities have black populations much larger than Boston, 
their total populations are comparable to the percentage in Boston. 


the 


percentages of blacks in 



Table 2 above illustrates the relative size of the black population in Boston compared to 
other northern urban cities with a sizable black population during the mid 1800's. Note 
that Boston although not on this table was at the time the fifth largest black community in 
the north prior to the Civil War. 

Most black families lived in multiple-family dwellings. Within their households 
often lived extended families. In addition this included the taking-on of boarders. The 
sharing of one's residence was due to a combination of cultural tradition and necessity. 



'* From Peter R. Knights, Plain People of Boston. 1830-1860 (New York, 1 97 1 ), p.29 
'' From Mollis, Lynch, The Black Urban Condition (New York, 1973), p.4 



139 

With social codes prohibiting blacks from housing in other parts of the city, black 
boarders often rented rooms in black households. Boarders pooled their income and 
shared responsibilities with the household. Those who were young with no occupation 
often aided others in childcare and domestic responsibilities. With limited housing and 
unfavorable economic and social conditions, living within this paradigm for African 
Americans was their cultural/racial responsibility. This pattern of ethnic and racial 
communal boundaries still in many ways exists today. Boston on the one hand, is proud 
of its cultural heritage and traditions and it's those traditions that tourism often banks 
upon. However, on the other hand it is this ethnic/racial separation, this city of polarized 
neighborhoods that is often central to the city's racial and cultural problems. 

Segregation in housing, transportation, education, and employment during the 
ante-bellum period in Boston continued to be issues that African Americans rallied in 
protest and opposition to. The Black church aided in addressing these concerns. The 
black church was not only a place of worship; it proved time and time again to be the 
community's center. It offered new Black immigrants, from the south and Caribbean, 
introduction to the community, assisting in finding housing and employment. 

When Boston's black population was small (11,000 in 1910 and only 
23,000 in 1940), the black church was the place for black people not only 
to worship, but also to mobilize and organize any worthy cause. The 
church served as a social-welfare office, an employment office, and as an 
educational institution. Nothing has been off limits to the black church.... 
But the black church, in a sense, escapes definition. It is the African 
Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.), the Pentecostal, the Baptist, and the New 



f 140 

Zion. And it is not just a religious experience it is a protest, a protection, a 
promise. It is a place of love, a place to organize anger, a place to throw 
your head back and shout. The black church is its own secret. It is the 
major institution of the black community, the only "thing" it has owned 
outright before and after Emancipation. And, after all the suffering, 
degradation and sacrifice, it still continues to fulfill its promise. 

(Hayden 1983:1) 

The political climate of Boston during the late 19th century was influenced 
greatly by ethnic prejudice in which one ethnic group who happened to gamer some 
political power or influence abused another new less fortunate group. Blacks who for the 
most part were not immigrants in the European tradition tended to receive prejudice of a 
different sort, racism. What one white immigrant group did to another was tame 
compared to what many old and new immigrant groups did to the Black population. "No 
Irish Need Apply and factory managers and store owners refused to hire black workers. 
Was there not some ground to anticipate a commonality of interest, given these partial 
similarities of experiences?" (Schneider 163) However a few blacks did serve in 
political office. In 1895 when the new Democrats redistricted the city Black political 
participation declined dramatically. Through redistricting, a new era in Boston politics 
arose, the creation of the Ward Boss. These Ward Bosses amassed such community 
control through favoritism, nepotism, and corruption that in order to achieve anything 
you had obtained their political 'blessing.' The work to rule was, don't fight it out in the 
courts, talk to and gain favor of the one who had the power of political influence. This 



141 

style of politics was not only in the State House, it also existed in each and every 
neighborhood of Boston, and Boston's Black community was no different. 

As conditions on the North Slope of Beacon Hill [considered the West End at the 
time] became overcrowded, the city's land mass was expanding due to a major urban 
project. Over a thirty-year period by the leveling of Breeds Hill and the transportation of 
land from Needham to fill in the marshy area of Back Bay, the Fenway, and coastal areas 
of the Charles River [the West End, East Boston, and the Boston Waterfront] Boston 
added roughly 50 percent to its central landmass making new land became available. 
This new land meant new housing. By 1 895 blacks began to relocate to the South End: 

...between Washington Street and Columbus Avenue, [Black's were] 
taking up residence in the old brownstone apartments that had been 
originally intended for well-to-do whites. In the early 1900's they spread 
along Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street into the upper part of the 
South End, settling along Northampton and Lenox Streets; and by the 
1930's with their population having passed the 20,000 mark, they 
extended the black community of the city down to Dudley Street in lower 

Roxbury It was here in the South End-Lower Roxbury area that the 

black community developed its own distinctive political organization by 
the start of the 20th century, as a handful of local political leaders traded 
power for patronage much as the Irish ward bosses had done 50 years 
earlier. 

(O'Connor 213-214) 



• 142 

For the most part of the 19th century the black population of Boston lived in the West 
End along the north slope of Beacon Hill and along Cambridge Street. The size of this 
population stabilized between 1 ,800 and 2,000. For the most part this was an isolated, 
pocketed community that seldom made major inroads into mainstream Boston but there 
were a few community members like William Monroe Trotter, Archibald Grimke, and 
W. E. B. DuBois that garnered, local, national, and even international attention. 

The African Meeting House was sold to a Jewish congregation in 1 898 during a 
period when the neighborhood was deteriorating and most of the black population had 
relocated to the South End and Lower Roxbury areas of Boston and new Jewish 
immigrants were moving in. The church of the African Meeting House purchased a 
building at the comer of Camden and Tremont Streets and officially moved from Beacon 
Hill. In 1915 this new church changed its name to the current People's Baptist Church. 

The African Meeting House building was a Jewish Synagogue for the better part 
of the 20th Century until the Museum of Afro American History purchased it in 1972. A 
Black Heritage Trail, which parallels the Freedom Trail, highlights the Meeting House as 
its beacon. Unlike most walking tours which consist of mainly plaques recalling what 
once existed on various sites along the tour, the Black Heritage Trail consists of existing 
original buildings that celebrate the historical black presence of Boston. No other such 
trail exists nationally. Today the African Meeting House, restored to its 1 854 design, is 
listed on the National Historic Site Register. It is truly a national African American 
historic treasure. The following participatory play pays tribute to this landmark and tells 
of Boston's African American community that develops from its early beginnings. 



, 143 

The splitting of congregation membership of the African Meeting House occurred 
several times during the 19th Century. The subsequent splintering off of church 
membership became the seeds to the establishment of other major black churches in 
Boston. For example, People's Baptist Church, first known as St. Paul's Baptist Church, 
boosts its lineage to the Afi-ican Meeting House. In 1905 the Boston Globe reported that 
"....St. Paul's Baptist Church society will hold a series of exercises covering one week 
incidental to the 100th Anniversary of their founding of the first religious society of 
colored people in New England." (Hayden 1994: 6) 



144 

C. Words of Renaissance (1919-1954) 

The 1930' and 40's was Boston's Renaissance period. The intersections of 
Massachusetts Avenue, Tremont Street, and Columbus Avenues were bustling with jazz 
entertainment. Several nightspots boosted entertainer of the caliber of Duke Ellington, 
Count Basic, Lionel Hampton, Fats Waller and others. Clubs like The Hi-Hat, and the 
Rainbow Room, and Estelle 's had a mixed clientele of blacks and white. During this 
period there was tremendous social activity with in the black community. Many service 
and social organizations were active and mobilizing the black community to address 
various issues. For example, numerous female African American students who could not 
obtain dormitory housing at their respective colleges were afforded residence at 558 
Massachusetts Avenue the home of The League of Women for Community Service, Inc. 
Corretta Scott King while living there was courted by Martin Luther King, Jr. who was a 
student at Boston University and who also at the time lived on Massachusetts Avenue. 
Their facility served as a regular meeting place for a variety of clubs and civic and social 
groups in the community such as the South Wend Historical Society and the Boston 
Negro Art Association. 

During World War II black skilled laborers from various parts of the United 
States came to New England to work in the factories, and in shipbuilding as part of the 
war effort. During this time the black population of Boston doubled in size in one 
decade. The black population rose from: 

23,000 in 1940 to over 40,000 in 1950. Since no new construction took 
place in the Roxbury area after 1920, the overcrowded black population 
was literally bulging at the seams. When the general prosperity of the post 



145 

war years after 1945 stimulated the heavily Jewish population in North 
Dorchester and Upper Roxbury to seek better housing in the suburbs, the 
blacks burst out of their ghettoes and spread throughout the former Jewish 
district with amazing rapidity until, by 1 960, they had moved all the way 
down Blue Hill Avenue to Mattapan Square. (O'Cormor 216) 

Assisted by redlining by banks and block busting by real estate people caused much of 
the movement of the Black population during this time. 

Currently black Bostonians make up 22 percent of the city's population. The 
cultural mix of blacks from all regions of the country and Caribbean, with a range in 
economic and educational experiences greatly enhanced Boston's black community 
making it the HUB of black New England. This rich cultural and ethnic mix can still be 
experienced today. 



146 

III. Summary: 

The goal of the Words of Reflection Trilogy is to educate and inform audience and 
performers about the significant history Boston's Black community have contributed to 
the history of the United States. The trilogy covers major events in American history that 
all had their start in Greater Boston. Some of the significant features of the trilogy are in 
the participatory nature of each one-act play. Each Encounter Theatre performance 
included an engaging interaction between audience and actors discussing/debating on a 
key historical issue of that affected this community and thus this society as a whole. In 
Words of Resistance the discussion is focused on community response to the pending 
passing of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Bill, in Words of Revolt, it is on the Columbus Avenue 
Church public event sponsored by The Negro Business League in 1905 which had 
Booker T. Washington deliver a speech sparking an altercation with William Monroe 
Trotter. This event dubbed the Boston Riot, led to the formation of the Niagara 
Movement and the subsequent founding of the National Association for the Advancement 
of Colored People (NAACP). Finally Words of Renaissance focuses on the development 
of the present-day Black community of Boston with a central focus on Boston Jazz scene 
of the late 1930's and 1940's. Each one-act play's length is limited to 50 minutes with a 
5-10 minute discussion. This structural design makes the project manageable as a touring 
production in school environments in which time is a factor. 

Over the years the production has had successful performances all over 
Greater Boston. There has been requests over the years in embellish the standing work 
with other historical characters, or create individual plays focused on one particular 
character, for instance the story of Anthony Bums. In addition, companion text to the 



147 



trilogy has also been requested, material that can be used in the classroom as a pre- 
performance lesson. I hope to address both of these in the future. 



148 

Chapter Four: 
Community History 

WORDS OF REFLECTION: 

Boston's Black History in the Making 
Written by David D. Coleman II and first performed on the Mainstage at Roxbury 
Community College Visual & Performing Arts Center on May 24, 25, 26, & 30, 2001 
under the direction of SayifM. Sanyika. Produced by ACT Roxbury Consortium'*'' & the 
Arts & Humanities Department of Roxbury Community College in association with The 
Roxbury Repertory Theatre Company 

STAGING: 
The play is envisioned for production on a proscenium stage with the upstage area 
showcasing a huge mural painting depicting various New England African Americans as 
well as an array of continental Africans culturally associated with their presence. The 
mural, suspended upstage center is roughly twenty feet high and thirty-five feet wide with 
a large rectangle area in the center. This center point is for rear-projected images that will 
periodically be displayed during the run of the performance. These projected images: 
paintings, woodcut prints, photographs, newspaper frontages-headlines, etc. visually 
document, African American presence in New England's history. In addition, in roughly a 
semi-circle are six life-size portraits of images of African Americans spanning the 
eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These images encased in large 
picture frames, along with the upstage mural have the appearance of being free floating 
images along the left/down left and right/down right stage areas, with the center stage 
open with a raised podium symmetrically centered up stage in front of the mural. The 



■"^ Artists, Culture, and Trade Roxbury Consortium established to promote the arts of Greater Roxbury by 
developing economic opportunities and cultural events featuring local artists. 



• 149 

stage is black as well as the areas surrounding the six images on stage. These positions 
are where the actors will periodically appear and disappear from time to time during the 
duration of the production. All images are lit and are constant through out the 
performance, giving the allusion of art gallery paintings, or a museum exhibit, or neutral 
black box setting. The environment is a seating area arranged as pews of a church with a 
podium centered in front of the seating. This area will be used as seating space for the 
different cast members and the general audience. 

COSTUME: 
All actors wear black (slacks and full length skirts) and white (shirts & blouses) clothing 
with color limited to those personal prop items (hats, scarves, etc. that they don 
periodically through out the play. The Narrator will wear church robes and period attire 
to distinguish himself from each character he is portraying. Items worn will be those 
symbolic of the type of character they are portraying, i.e. women will wear bormets, men 
escorts, waistcoats and the like. 

BLOCKING: 
Performance is abstractly staged using very few props or backdrops. Those backdrops 
(including slide images) that are used are symbolic of the issues that will be discussed. In 
the script are written picture numbers with titles and descriptions. These images refer to 
major blocking of actors for that particular moment in the scene. The idea behind this is 
that all actors are living images within these living pictures that the audience is observing 
as though they are in a museum or art gallery exhibit. The action either begins with or 
ends with a "photo moment" in which the actors, present in the scene, freeze for a 
moment, then move transitioning to their next scene. 



' 150 

IMAGES: 

Images are used as a major supplement to the up stage mural/backdrop. These visual 

images, in the form of projected pictures cover the major topics of the play. In addition 

there are supplemental images provided, depending on the staging of the production and 

the director's interpretation. Also you will note references to Pictures. These references 

are primarily connected to major stage blocking of actors. Some of these live pictures do 

have supporting visual images projected simultaneously up stage. Where this is down in 

the play it is indicated. 

Picture I Red Flannel 

Picture 2 Unified Family 

Picture 3 The Robinson's Trial 

Picture 4 The Mutilated Slave 

Picture 5 The Auction Block 

Picture 6 Three generations of black Males 

Picture 7 Faneuil Hall Protest 

Picture 8 The Huddling Masses 

Picture 9 Cinque 

Picture 1 Runaways 

Picture 1 1 The Meeting House Congregation 

Picture 12 William 8c Ellen Craft 

Picture 13 A Runaway 

Picture 14 Another Runaways 

Picture 15 Jesus Was Black?, Yes He Was!. 

Picture 16 Anthony Bums: 

Picture 1 7 Lincoln & Douglass Debate 

Picture 18 Call To Arms 

Picture 19 Booker T. Washington: 

Picture 20 Archibald Grimke 

Picture 21 William Monroe Trotter 

Picture 22 W. E. B. DuBois: 

Picture 23 The Birth Of A Nation 

Picture 24 If We Must Die!: 

Picture 25 Early 20th Century Black Boston Community: 

Picture 26 The Living Is Easy: 

Picture 27 Black in World War II: 

Picture 28 Brown vs. The Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas: 

All illustrations created by Michael Russell Thierry 



151 



ACT ONE: WORDS OF RESISTANCE 

[SCENE ONE: Moves from 1800 through 1850. Time changes progressively in 
relationship to the changing themes.] 

[SCENE TWO: Early 1850, the Encounter experience is a discussion of the ramifications 
of the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act.] 

[SCENE THREE: Early 1850, after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act.] 



ACT TWO: WORDS OF REVOLT 

[SCENE ONE: Moves from 1850 through 1875. The prelude to the Civil War, the Civil 
War and Reconstruction are covered. Time changes progressively in relationship to the 
changing themes.] 

[SCENE TWO Early 1870's through 1900, the period of the second industrial revolution 
and African-American migration to the North and West. Turn of the Century 1 900, after 
the passage of the "Jim Crow Laws" The Boston Riot (the Encounter experience is 
participating for or against the views of Booker T. Washington), 1907 Niagara 
Movement, through the First World War are covered.] 



ACT THREE: WORDS OF RENAISSANCE 

[SCENE ONE: Moves from the end of World War I through 1919. Time changes 
progressively in relationship to the changing themes.] 

[SCENE TWO: 1919 through 1945 covers the Great Depression years, the Black Arts 
Movement, and World War II. The Encounter experience is a Boston Jazz Club scene 
and patrons being refused entry to the Hi Hat Club]. 

[SCENE THREE: Mid 1940's through early 1950's covers the period that preludes the 
Civil Rights Movement of the later twentieth century.] 



152 



LIST OF CHARACTERS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE: 

ACT ONE: WORDS OF RESISTANCE 

SCENE ONE: 

NARRATOR #1 : A representation of all past Pastors of the African House 

and of present-day pastors of A.M.E. churches 

RED FLANNEL: Slave narrative 

PRINCE HALL: Founder of the African Masonic Lodge 

SCIPIO DALTON: A founding member of the African Meeting House 

CHLOE E. THOMAS Elderly Black resident of Myrtle Street 

LYDIA MARIA CHILD: Wrote in 1833 "An Appeal In Favor Of That Class Of 

Americans Called Africans" one of the earliest 
statements against race prejudice. 

VOICE: #1 A concerned citizen who makes statements that are 

Summations of the events of the time 

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL: Reads from a letter he wrote to a friend 

DAVID WALKER: Author "An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the world 

WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON: Abolitionist Newspaper Publisher 

MARIA STEWART: First woman to speak in a public forum 

WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING: In 1835 "loved the south." and stressed solving the 

problem of slavery through discourse 

WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT: Well known American poet who published a poem 

about Cinque's demeanor during the Amistad Mutiny 
trial. 

CINQUE Leader of the Mendi who revolted on the La Amistad 

VOICE: #2 Reiterating historical statements that may or may not be 

pleasant also gives historical commentary 

ROSSETTA FORTEN: Daughter of a prominent black leader of the 1800's 

CHARLES LENOX REDMOND: Noted black abolitionist who toured with Frederick 

Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison 



153 



COMMITTEE MEMBER: 
JUDGE PERKINS: 
ROBERT MORRIS: 

JUDGE SHAW: 
WILLIAM CRAFT: 

ELLEN CRAFT: 

REPORTER: 
CHOIR: 

THE CONGREGATION: 
REV. THOMPSON: 
LEWIS HAYDEN: 

HARRIET HAYDEN: 
VOICE #1 
VOICE #2 

SLAVE CATCHERS: 
MARTIN ROBINSON DELANY: 
WILLIAM CRAFT: 
ELLEN CRAFT: 
NARRATOR: 



Member of Boston School Committee during 1840's 

Supreme Court Justice of Indiana during the 1 840's 

First Black New England Attorney Second Black 
to receive a Law Degree in the United States 

Chief Justice of Massachusetts during the 1840's 

Fugitive slave and abolitionist who traveled around the 
country and abroad speaking for the cause 

William's wife who escaped bondage with her husband 
disguised as a white man and her husband as her slave 

Reporting the news of the day 

Singing Negro Spirituals of the early to mid 1800's 

SCENE TWO: 

Actors and audience 

Presiding pastor of the African Meeting House in 1850 

Prominent black abolitionist of Boston known for 
harboring fugitives 

Lewis' wife equally outspoken against slavery 

Member of the congregation 

Member of the congregation 

Bounty Hunters 

Free Black commenting of the Fugitive Slave Act. 

Runaway slave 

Runaway slave 

A representative of all past pastors of the African Meeting 
House is only heard 



CHOIR: 



Members of the congregation 



154 



CHARLOTTE FORTEN GRIMKE: Daughter of a prominent black New England Family 

FREDERICK DOUGLASS: Delivers an extraction of his "What to the Slave Is The 

Fourth of July?" 



ACT TWO: WORDS OF REVOLT 



NARRATOR: 

FREDERICK DOUGLASS: 

REPORTER: 

VOICE #1: 

VOICE: #2 

ANTHONY BURNS: 

ROBERT PURVIS: 
WILLIAM C. NELL: 



SCENE ONE: 

A representation of all past Pastors of the African Meeting 
House and of present-day pastors of A.M.E. churches 



Newspaper and magazine interviewer and storyteller 

A concerned citizen makes statements that are summations 
of the events 

Reiterating statements that may or may not be pleasant also 
gives historical commentary 

Most famous fugitive slave case to rock Boston was that of 
Anthony Bums in May and June of 1854. Burns gives his 
own account of his return to and rendition from slavery. 

to the payment School Tax." 

Read from letter in which Bums is formally 
Excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ, At 
Union, VA. September 1855 won the battle for Boston 
school desegregation 



CHARLOTTE FORTEN GRIMKE: Recites from her journal writings 
JUDGE: Judge in John Brovm Trial 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: President of the United States 



SCENE TWO: 
NARRATOR 

VOICE #1: 



A representation of all past Pastors of the African Meeting 
House and of present-day pastors of A.M.E. churches 

A concerned citizen 



155 



VOICE: #2 Reiterating statements that may or may not be pleasant 

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: "Cast down your buckets where you are." 



W. E. B. DuBOIS: 



NARRATOR: 

VOICE # 1: 
VOICE # 2: 



Late 19th early 20th Century Civil Right Activist 
& scholar 

ACT THREE: WORDS OF RENAISSANCE 
SCENE ONE: 

A representation of all past Pastors of the African 
Meeting House is only hear 

A representative of the black church of early 1900's 

Boston Resident of the day Makes statement that is 
a summation of the events of the time 



REPORTER: 

REAL ESTATE AGENT: 



Newspaper columnist of the day 

White Realtor from the turn of the 20th century 



WILLIAM MONROE TROTTER: Businessman, editor of "The Guardian," and militant 

civil rights leader 



W.E.B. DuBOIS: 



MOORFIELD STOLEY: 



COMMITTEE MEMBER: 



D. W. GRIFFITH: 



MANAGEMENT: 



CONGREGATION: 



REAL ESTATE AGENT: 



REPORTER: 



Educator, leading black intellectual Founder of the 
NAACP Writer of "Souls of Black Folk and The 
Talented Tenth. 

Lawyer, President of NAACP chapter in NYC author 
of "The Negro Question" 

Member of various School Committee during the 
early 1900's 

Director of "Birth of a Nation" 

Movie house manager at the Tremont Theater 

Actors and audience 

Demonstrator of racist housing practices in Boston 

White journalist 



156 



NARRATOR: 



SCENE TWO: 

A representative of all past pastors of Black churches 
of Greater Boston circa 1910's & 20's 



COMMITTEE MEMBER: Member of School Committee during the early 1 900's 
STATE SUPERINTENDENT: From Massachusetts 



VOICE #1: 
VOICE # 2: 

MOORFIELD STOLEY: 

SOLDER #1: 
SOLDER # 2: 
SOLDER #3: 
CONGREGATION: 

VOICE #1: 

VOICE #2: 

NARRATOR: 

REPORTER: 

JULIUS C. CHAPPELLE: 

DOROTHY WEST: 

RESIDENT #1: 
RESIDENT #2: 
RESIDENT #3: 



A representative of the black church of early 1900's 

Boston Resident of the day Makes statement that is a 
summation of the events of the time 

Lawyer, President of NAACP chapter in NYC author 
of 'The Negro Question" 

Soldier returning from W. W. 1 

Soldier returning from W.W.I 

Soldier returning from W.W.I 

Actors and audience 

SCENE THREE: 

A concerned citizen of the black elite 

Resident reiterating historical statements 

Present day pastor 

Reporter for local Boston Newspaper 

Black legislature around the turn of the century 

Author of The Living is Easy about the Boston black 
elite during World War I 

Tells ofthe Hi Hat Club 

Tells ofthe Pioneer Club 

Tells of Wally's Paradise 



157 



RESIDENT #4: 



Echoes other resident's sentiments 



THURGOOD MARSHALL: Chief lawyer for NAACP Legal Defense Committee 
JUDGE: Of the United States Supreme Court 

CONGREGATION: Actors and audience 



END 



158 




Picture # 1: Red Flannel 



159 



ACT ONE, SCENE ONE: 

[Scene opens with narrator entering from down right crossing to the center stage 
observing the images. He crosses to each image carefully inspecting them, even dusting 
them off and attempting to adjust their position. He then proceeds up stage to the podium. 
Once he arrives at this position the light changes and an image appears upstage in the 
center of the mural. This introduction is heard off stage with theme music, that of the 
sounds of drumming in background along with humming by the Choir. The play begins 
with actors entering from all areas of the stage converging assembled down center. The 
drumming continues as background.^ 

RED FLANNEL: 

"Granny Judith said that in Africa they had very few pretty things, and that they had no 
red colors in cloth, in fact they had no cloth at all. Some strangers with pale faces come 
one day and draped a small piece of red flannel down on the ground. All the black folks 
grabbed for it. Then a larger piece was draped a little further on, and on until the river 
was reached. Then a large piece was draped in the river and on the other side. They was 
led on, each one trying to git a piece as it was draped. Finally, when the ship was reached, 
they draped large pieces on the plank and up into the ship till they got as many blacks on 
board as they wanted. Then the gate was chained up, and they could not get back. That is 

the way Granny Judith say they got her to America Granny Judith bom Millie, and 

Millie Bom me. No, I ain't never had no desire to go to Africa, 'cause I 'gwine to stay 
where I is.""*' 

NARRATOR: 

Those were the words of an anonymous plantation slave recounting a story her 
grandmother told her about how her kind arrived on these American shores. Now its not 
the most glamorous and some would argue factual history of the origin and rational 
presence of multi-generations of slaves in a particular region of the United States ... But 
since the majority of African American history is passed on from an oral tradition ... let 
us continue... 

VOICE 1: 

Negro indentured servants were first brought to Jamestown, VA., in 1619, slavery 
gradually spread to all of the colonies. It flourished most, however, in the Southern 
colonies, where slaves could be used profitably as field hands in the cultivation of 
tobacco, rice, and indigo. When the American Revolution broke out, three fourths of the 
Negro population lived south of the Mason Dixon Line. 



VOICE # 2 

In 1638 European slave traders brought the first Africans to Boston, via the West Indies 
as slaves to replace the Native Americans who were unsuccessfully held in slavery. 
However slavery in a Puritan society was much different than in other parts of the 
American Colonies. England's King Charles I persecution of the Puritans caused a great 

■" Anonymous slave narrative 



, 160 

exodus of English citizens to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Due to the socio-economic 
climate and religious conditions in Boston, slavery as an institution did not flourish. By 
1643 the population of the Bay Colony rose to over 15,000 and just prior to the war for 
independence the total population neared 20,000. 

VOICE #1: 

During the early 1 700's Boston was a tovra with a rather high percentage of Negroes in 
its population. By 1752, 10 percent of Boston's population was Negro, numbering just 
over fifteen hundred persons. 

VOICE # 2: 

Wait a minute ... Although in 1700 a Boston committee tried to stop the trafficking of 
Negro slaves by 1741 in New England slavery was a part of life. It was economics not 
morality that changed things. During this period most New Englanders were seafarers or 
fur traders, occupations that proved to be more highly profitable than those New 
Englander who participated in slavery as slave traders. However, there were those 
wealthy merchant families who did retain slaves as servants. 

VOICE 1: 

Just as slavery seemed to be dying out it was revived by an agricultural rebirth in the 
South. A new demand for cotton and the introduction of improved machinery such as the 
cotton gin transformed the Southern states into the greatest cotton-growing region in the 
world. Cotton production jumped from 178,000 bales in 1810 to 3,841,000 bales in 1860. 
To achieve this tremendous increase required a whole army of new workers, chiefly black 
slaves. Within 50 years the number of slaves rose from about 1, 190,000 to almost 
4,000,000. 

[The drumming stops. Actors freeze. As Voice I speaks actors move.} 

VOICE # 2: 

In the year 1 804 Negroes made up three percent of the population of Boston. The free 
Negroes, the majority of this percentage, offered substantial accessions for the Boston 
community. Those who were not fugitive slaves or servants, living in white households, 
congregated about the wharves at the extreme northern tip of the North End, opposite 
Charlestown. This locality was customarily referred to as TVew Guinea.' 

VOICE #1: 

However, it is plain the Negro was making economic and industrial progress. The 
Negroes had almost a monopoly of the barbering business. The directory gave the names 
of 32 'hairdressers,' most of them were owners of shops, situated in every part of the city. 

VOICE #2: 

There were 14 clothes shops, most of them on Brattle Street, a junk-shop, a provision 
shop, and 4 boarding houses. Thus, at this time, a promising proportion of the Negroes 
had become business proprietors. 



161 




Picture # 2: Unified Family 



162 



VOICE #1: 

A further and more important advance in organization was made with the founding of the 
first Negro church, originally called the African Meeting House. 

[Narrator enters from up left to center of main floor and addresses audience] 

NARRATOR: 

[speaks through out the rest of scene] 

Welcome brothers and sisters to the African Meeting House! My name is Rev. 
and I am your pastor for this special service. I have been informed that a number of you 
who live and work in this here city do not know the importance of these four walls, this 
building, our Meeting House. This will be the focus of my sermon today. Before we 
begin, let us rise in song. 

[congregation engaged in spiritual hymn "This Little Light of Mine" sung by Choir and 
audience.] 

CHOIR: 

This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine. 

This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine. 

This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine. 

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. 

Everywhere I go, I'm going to let it shine 

(3 times) 

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. 

In the Meeting House, I'm going to let it shine 

(3 times) 

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine." 

{As the Reverent motions for the congregation to be seated, Prince Hall shaking his head 
rises and begins to orate) 

PRINCE HALL: 

[Speaking to the audience from down right] 
"Now, my brethren, as we see an experience, that all things here are frail and changeable 
and nothing here to be depended upon: Let us seek those things which are above, and at 
the same time let us pray to Almighty God, while we remain in the tabernacle, that he 
would give us the grace of patience and strength to bear up under all our troubles, which 
at this day God knows we have our share. Patience, I say, for were we not possessed of a 
great measure of it; you could not bear up under the daily insults you meet with in the 
streets of Boston. My brethren, let us not be cast down under these other abuses we at 
present labor under: for the darkest is before the break of day. "''^ 



''^ An extract from his Charge to the African Lodge by Prince Hall the founder of that lodge delivered this 
speech to his fellow-Masons in 1797. 



163 



NARRATOR: 

Those were the words of Prince Hall, founder of the African Masonic Lodge. From an 
excerpt from his speech "Charge to the African Lodge" delivered in Boston in 1797. He 
commented on the conditions under which. African- Americans of Boston were subjected 
to. The history of Black Presence in Greater Boston is an important history to know of 
For those of you who are not aware of this history, its formation, and its significant place 
in this here society, let me give you a brief background ... This simple, brick building 
nestled in Smith Court on Boston's Beacon Hill reveals little to the passerby to indicate 
its grand place in history. Yet not only is this building, our meeting house, the oldest 
standing church building for black people of Boston, New England, America it is also the 
political, social, and educational, focal point of the black communities throughout New 
England and even America! If only these four walls could talk then you would 
understand the significance of this institution! 

SCIPIO DALTON: 

[Speaking to the audience from down left] 
Cato Gardner and I Scipio Dalton were members of the predominantly white First Baptist 
Church between the years 1772 and 1808. Although were could attend their [white] 
churches were not accorded equal privileges with them. We coloured Baptists were 
assigned seats in the galleries, where we could only hear not see the preacher. We had no 
voting privileges, and our participation at church was limited to public worship and to 
services connected with births, baptism, marriage, and death. Some of us began to hold 
worship services in private homes. Others used Faneuil Hall. These informal, 
nondenominational gatherings were the beginning of the independent Negro church 
movement in Boston. 

NARRATOR: 

Dedicated in 1 806 as the African Meeting House and built entirely with black laborer, the 
building was also known over the years as the First African Baptist Church, the Abolition 
Church, the Black Faneuil Hall, the Belknap Street Church, and later after that street's 
name was changed to Joy Street, the Joy Street Church... 

MRS. CHLOE E. THOMAS: 

[A resident interrupts and moves down center^ 
"I'm Mrs. Chloe E. Thomas. I live in the old women's home on Myrtle Street. A while 
ago, I heard from the lips of some of those of our most honored fathers, Cato Gardner, 
Father Primus Hall, Hamlet Earl, Scipio Dalton, Peter G. Smith, and G.H. Holmes, that 
George Holmes made the first hod to carry bricks and mortar that was ever used in 
Boston. He invented it for the purpose of carrying bricks and mortar to build our Meeting 
House with, as he was a mason and calculated t o do his part to the best of his ability. 
And, Boston Smith, father of P.G. Smith, with the rest of his devoted brothers, was 
anxious to do all in his powers. As Boston Smith was a master builder, he led the 
carpentry department. Abel Barbados, being a master mason, also assisted. He was the 
father of Mrs. Catherine Barbados at 27 Myrtle Street."''^ 



"' A elderly resident of the Old Women's Home on Myrtle Street (1883) 



164 




Picture # 3: The Robinson's Trial 



165 



NARRATOR: 

The establishment of the African Meeting House greatly influenced this Black colony. 
The African Meeting House became the home of the Abolitionist Movement. For blacks 
of Boston, the attainment of true freedom and full political rights was inexorably linked 
to the national abolition of slavery. [The Robinsons enter are confronted by the Judge] 
Sometimes fugitive aid in Boston was an individual effort, but more often it was a group 
concern. In 1 827, John and Sophia Robinson were convicted of withholding a five-year- 
old black child, Elizabeth, from her white guardian whom they feared would sell her into 
slavery. The Robinsons, who were part of no organized antislavery group, received four 
months in jail for this act but the child was never recovered, having 'disappeared into the 
black community. 

[The Robinsons are led away as the Judge repeats Guilty! Guilty! Guilty\\ 

NARRATOR: 

As Bostonians joined forces to oppose legal bondage, the African Meeting House became 
a hotbed of abolitionist agitation. 



[Lydia Maria Child who wrote in 1833 "An Appeal In Favour Of That Class of 
Americans Called Africans" stands up from the balcony and makes one of the earliest 
statements against race prejudice.] 

VOICE #2: 

[From opposite side of the room] 
"Listener, what follows is very sickening: but we must not allow our nerves to be more 
sensitive than our consciences. If such things are done in our country, it is important that 
we should know of them, and seriously reflect upon them." 

[The following passage in acted out in pantomime] 

LYDIA MARIA CHILD: 

"The door was fastened, that none of the Negroes, either through fear or sympathy, 
should attempt to escape; he then told them that the design of this meeting was to teach 
them to remain at home and obey his orders. All things being now in train, George was 
called up, and by assistance of his younger brother, laid on a broad bench or block. The 
master then cut of his ankles with a broad ax. In vain the unhappy victim screamed. Not a 
hand among so many dared to interfere. Having cast the feet into the fire, he lectured the 
Negroes at some length. He then proceeded to cut off his limbs below the knees. The 
sufferer begot him to begin with his head. It was in vain—the master went on thus, until 
trunk, arms and head were all in the fire. Still protracting the intervals with lectures, and 
threats of like punishment, in case any of them were disobedient, or ran away, or 
disclosed the tragedy they were compelled to witness..." 



'''' Excerpt of Lydia Maria Child 1833 An Appeal In Favour Of That Class of Americans Called Africans 
"' Excerpt of Lydia Maria Child 1 833 An Appeal In Favour Of That Class of Americans Called Africans 



166 



VOICE #1: 

"The Negroes were allowed to disperse, with charges to keep the secret under the penalty 
of like punishment. But some of them whispered the horrid deed; the neighbors found the 
remains and testified against him."'*^ 

NARRATOR: 

Lilbum Lewis was bound over to await the sitting of the court; but before that period 
arrived, he committed suicide. 

[Song "Oh, Freedom is sung by Choir] 

CHOIR: 

"Oh, Freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom over me; 

And before I'd be a slave, I'd be buried in my gave. 

And go home to my Lord and be free." 

Next two verses are improvised. 

NARRATOR: 

"By the middle 1 820's there was almost no abolition voice in the Deep South; those who 
opposed the accepted mores had either submitted to the suppression of their beliefs or had 
left the region." 

[James Russell Lowell stands and reads from a letter he wrote to a friend...] 

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL: 

"I am James Russell Lowell and I have been working for the abolition cause for quite a 
while. One day a friend argued in favor of the slaveholder's rights. Eloquently 
paraphrasing Shakespeare let me read to you something I wrote him. "Hath not a slave 
holder hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, 
hurt with same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, 
warmed and cooled by the same summer and winter as an abolitionist is? If you prick 
them do they not bleed? If you tickle them do they not laugh? If you poison them do they 
not die? If you wrong them shall they not revenge? ... Even they are human. The longer I 
live the more I am convinced that the world must be healed by degrees." 

NARRATOR: 

"The years between 1808 and 1831 have generally been considered years of indifference 
in the slavery controversy, or of preoccupation with other things. It is equally true that 
those were years of economic and social change from which later antislavery and 
proslavery combatants drew their motives and their arguments..." 



""^ Excerpt of Lydia Maria Child's An Appeal In Favour Of That Class of Americans Called Africans 
"" Excerpt from a letter by James Russell Lowell, Harvard educator and Abolitionist 



167 




Picture # 4: The Mutilated Slave 



168 



[Slaves on an auction block being bided on a man in the crowd steps down stage and 
speaks] 

OPPOSING VIEW: 

"Slavery has ever been the stepping ladder by which countries have passed from 
barbarism to civilization ... divisions of mankind into grades ... constitutes the very soul 
of civilization; and the more those grades are in a country, the more highly civilized may 
we expect to find it." 

NARRATOR: 

In the early days of the antislavery movement most of its leaders believed in nonviolence. 
They thought that they could win freedom for the slaves by a revolution in public 
opinion, rather than with swords and guns. There were always a few men who disagreed. 

[David Walker is seen entering stage left distributing his document to a group of 
laborers] 

REPORTER: 

"NEWS FLASH! In 1829 the nation was startled by David Walker's Appeal to the 
Coloured Citizens of the World in which he called on slaves to rebel and "kill or be 
killed." 

VOICE #2: 

David Walker didn't have to be told that if a slave struck his master it meant death. 
Freeborn in North Carolina, but the son of a slave father, he knew slavery— what he called 
"the peculiar institution" —firsthand. His hatred of slavery drove him to Boston, where he 
sold clothes and subscriptions to "Freedom's Journal." He burned to deliver his own 
message to the slaves. Walkers "Appeal" was a harsh out-cry against the injustices done 
the Negro, and an open call to rise up in arms and overthrow slavery. In a year it ran 
through three editions, terrifying the slave holder's." 



DAVID WALKER: 

[David Walker looking at laborers - then turns and talks] 
"Can our condition be any worse? Can it be more mean and abject? If there are any 
changes, will they not be for the better, though they may appear for the worst at first? 
Can they get us any lower? Where can they get us? ... The Indians of North and South 
America - The Greeks - The Irish - The Jews - in fine, all the inhabitants of the earth 
(except, however, the sons of Africa) are called men, and of course are, and ought to be 
free. But we (coloured people) and our children are brutes and of course are, and ought to 
be slaves to the American people and their children forever? To dig their mines and work 
their farms; and thus go on enriching them from one generation to another with our blood 
and our tears?... 



^^ Excerpt from David Walker's Appeal lo the Coloured Citizens of the World in four articles with a 
Preamble published 1829 and 1830 



169 




Picture #5: The Auction Block 



170 



{Upstage from David Walker several men pantomime hard labor, an overseer urges them 

on., as the overseer turns ... the men become aggressive in their movements when Walker 

says ..(NO!) They freeze at a potential moment for confrontation} 

NO. How would they like for us to make slaves of, and hold them in cruel slavery, and 
murder them as they do us? ... I ask you, had you not rather be killed than to be a slave to 
a tyrant, who takes the life of your mother, wife and dear little children? ... Answer God 
almighty; and believe this, that it is no more harm for you to kill a man who is tying to 
kill you, than it is for you to take a drink of water when thirsty ... The greatest riches in 
all America have arisen from our blood and tears... '^ 

{Slaves shift their movement showing they have control of their destiny in pantomime} 

We must and shall be free! God will deliver us. And woe, woe, will be to you if we have 
to obtain our freedom by fighting. Throw away your fears and prejudices then, and treat 
us like men, and we will like you more than we do now hate you... You are astonished at 
my saying we hate you? For if we are men we cannot but hate you, while you are treating 
us like dogs."^*^ 

VOICE #1: 

"Georgia offered $10,000 for Walker taken alive and $1,000 for him dead. State after 
state in the South made it a crime to circulate the "Appeal," and a crime to teach Negroes 
to read." "It is evident they have read this pamphlet, nay, we know that the larger portion 
of them have read it, or heard it read, and that they glory in its principles, as if were a star 
in the east, guiding them to freedom and emancipation."^' 

VOICE #2: 

"The Mayor of Savannah, William T. Williams and the Governor Owens of Georgia 
wrote to Boston's Mayor Otis, begging him to stop Walker's "highly inflammatory" work. 
Reports soon circulated Boston stating that a group of Georgia men were offering a 
$3,000 reward to anyone who would take David Walker's life. His friends advised him to 
go to Canada, but he refused to run away..." 

DAVID WALKER: 

"I'll stand my ground ... Even if I must die in this cause..." [ light fades] 

VOICE #1: 

A year later, David Walker was dead. Whether he died of poison or from natural causes is 
still a mystery. But the "Appeal" lives on ... [Slave move toward Overseer and all exit 
stage left] and others like Nat Turner in 1831 in Virginia revolted, but this time not in 



"' Excerpt from David Walker's Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World in four articles with a 

Preamble published 1829 and 1830 
'" Excerpt from David Walker's Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World in four articles with a 

Preamble published 1829 and 1830 
^' Boston Evening Transcript, 28 September, 183;. reprinted in Richmond Enquirer, February 18, 1830 
" Williams to Otis, December 12, 1829, Records of Chatham County, Georgia. 



171 



words but by use of violence. Leaving a trail of more than seventy whites murdered 
before being killed himself and leaving the words of Walker haunting in the minds of 
many. 

DAVID WALKER: 

"We must and shall be free! God will deliver us. And woe, woe will be to you if we have 
to obtain our freedom by fighting." 



VOICE #2: 

Inspired by "Walker's Appeal" Maria Stewart, a bom-again Christian and advocate for 
the cause of God and Freedom, felt that she too had a great work to perform, and in 1831 
she found her way to the newly opened office of The Liberator a Boston-based 
Abolitionist Newspaper founded and operated by William Lloyd Garrison. 

WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON: 

"Maria Stewart, flush with the promise of ripening womanhood, made herself known to 
me by coming into my office and placing into my hands, for criticism and friendly advice 
a manuscript embodying her devotional thoughts and aspirations. Included were various 
essays pertaining to the conditions of that class with which she was complexionately 
identified. "^^ 

NARRATOR: 
"Encouraged when Garrison published two of her essays, Stewart went on to speak 
publicly, to various audiences. Her speech in Boston's Franklin Hall on September 21, 
1832 was the first public lecture by an American woman. Her message was secular: 

MARIA STEWART: 

"Sons and daughters of Africa, awake! Arise! Distinguish yourselves! Again, it was 
asserted that we were "a ragged set, crying for liberty." I reply to it, the whites have so 
long and so loudly proclaimed the theme of equal rights and privileges that our souls 
have caught the flame also, ragged as we are. As far as our merit deserves, we feel a 
common desire to rise above the condition of servants and drudges. I have learnt, by 
bitter experience, that continual hard labor deadens the energies of the soul, and benumbs 
the faculties of the mind; the ideas become confined, the mind barren, and, like the 
scorching sands of Arabia, produces nothing; or like the uncultivated soil, brings forth 
thorns and thistles. "^"^ 



" Excerpt from The Liberator edited by William Lloyd Garrison in 1831 

^^ Maria Stewart Franklin Hall Address, September 21,1 832 documented as the first speech by an 
American Women in a public forum. 



172 



NARRATOR: 

In her speech Maria Stewart painted a vivid sketch of Boston's black community, in 
which she was sympathetic to the males but also critical. 

[Three generations of black men, dejected and downtrodden enter stage right, group 
center stage] 

MARIA STEWART: 

"Look at our young men-smart, active, and energetic, with souls filled with ambitious 
fire; if they look forward, alas! What are their prospects? They can be nothing but the 
humblest laborer, on account of their dark complexion ... Look at our middle-aged 
men,... In winter, every cent they earn goes to buy their wood and pay their rent; their 
poor wives also toil beyond their strength, to help support their families. Look at our aged 
sires, whose heads are whitened with the frosts of seventy winters, with their wood-saws 
on their backs. Alas, what keeps us so? Prejudice, ignorance and poverty. "^^ 

NARRATOR: 

A year later when she lectured at the African Masonic Hall, her criticism of black men of 
Boston had grown sharper. 

MARIA STEWART: 

"Is it blindness of mind or stupidity of soul or want of education that has caused our men 
never to let their voices be heard nor their hands be raised in behalf of their color? Or has 
it been for fear of offending the whites? If it has ye fearfijl ones, throw off your 
fearfulness and come forth. If you are men, convince them those you posses the spirit of 
men. 

Have the sons of Africa no souls? Feel they no ambitious desires? ... Where is the man 
that has distinguished himself in these modem days by acting wholly in the defense of 
African rights and liberty? You are abundantly capable, gentlemen, of making yourself 
men of distinction: and this gross neglect on your part causes my blood to boil within me. 
ye sons of Africa, when will your voices be heard in our legislative halls, in defiance of 
your enemies, contending for equal rights and liberty? "^^ 

[The men exit at start of next passage'] 



'^ Except from Maria Stewart Selected Speeches ed by Marilyn Richardson 
'* Excerpt from Maria Stewart speeches 1833 



173 




Picture # 6: Three Generations of Black Males 



174 



WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON: 

During my recent tour ... on the subject of slavery, every place I visited gave fresh 
evidence of the fact that a greater change in the public sentiment towards the liberation of 
the slave needs to be affected in the Free states - AND PARTICULARLY IN NEW 
ENGLAND - than the South. As I published in the Liberator: 

I found contempt more bitter, opposition more active ... prejudice more stubborn and 
apathy more frozen in New England than among the slave-holders themselves ... Till 
every chain be broken and every bondsman set free, let Southern oppressors tremble, let 
their Northern apologists tremble ... 1 am aware that many object to the severity of my 
language; but is there not cause for severity? I BE as harsh as truth, and as 
uncompromising as justice. On the subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with 
moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him 
to moderately rescue his wife ... tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the 
fire into which it has fallen; -but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like this one. I 
am earnest. I will not equivocate. I will not excuse. 1 will not retreat a single inch - AND 
I WILL BE HEARD!" 

VOICE #1: 

It is but the other day that the brave Lovejoy gave his breast to the bullets of a mob for 
the rights of free speech and opinion and died when it was better not to live. 

NARRATOR: 

Elijah Lovejoy clergy editor of a religious paper in Alton, Illinois that was unpopular for 
advocating gradual abolition was killed by a mob... 

[Narrator walks in front of the podium and moves towards a small group of protesters 
protesting the killing of Rev. Elijah Lovejoy.] 

VOICE # 2: 

We had a protest against the killing of Lovejoy at Faneuil Hall on December 8, 1837. 
William Ellery Charming, a noted white abolitionist aristocrat who loved the south and 
stressed solving the problem of slavery through discourse, spoke followed by a move to 
formulate a statement of those gathered. 

[Entering from the crowd appears William Ellery Channing from one side of the room 
states] 



" Excerpt from editorial written and published by William Lloyd Garrison 1835 



175 




rt. K. r^^idiUY 



Picture #7: Faneuil Hall Protest 



176 



WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING: 

"An institution so founded in wrong, so imbued with injustice, cannot be made a good. It 
cannot, like other institutions, be perpetuated by being improved. To improve it is to 
prepare the way for its subversion. Every melioration of the slave's lot is a step toward 
freedom. Slavery is thus radically, essentially evil."^^ 

VOICE # 2: 

"At the Faneuil Hall Meeting the attorney general of Massachusetts stood and blamed 
Lovejoy for inciting a riot and that he "died as the fool dieth." He claimed that the Alton 
citizens had acted in the tradition of the Revolutionary rioters of Boston ... that slaves 
were like "wild beasts" and abolitionists were like "fools." 

NARRATOR: 

[Narrator returns to podium as mob disperses.] 
This was the kind of feeling that people in those days had. 

REPORTER: 

NEWS FLASH! "Spanish slavers seized 53 men and women from the Mendi region of 
Africa and their subsequent shipment of slaves bound for Cuba, in violation of a Spanish 
treaty that expressly forbade slave trading in British waters. Once in the Havana slave 
markets, traders purchased the Africans for later resale and hired a captain to conduct La 
Amistad to Principe, Puerto Rico. After four days at sea the slaves, organized and led by 
Cinque, revolted. Murdering their captors and taking their former ship's captain and cook 
hostage, the mutineers demanded safe return to Africa. News to follow.... 

[Changes to a group of black citizens huddling.] 

VOICE #1: 

[The story continues with the next voice] 
Secretly steering the ship westward at night to counteract the day's easterly travels, the 
crew, after months at sea, brought the boat to Long Island where it was boarded by 
American forces who arrested the mutineers and freed the slavers. Brought ashore in New 
Haven, the slaves became a cause celebre at a critical juncture in the abolitionist 
movement. More to come. 



Excerpt from protest speech delivered by William Ellery Channing at Faneuil Hall on December 8, 1837. 
In this passage he paraphrases William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice's Shylock speech to the court 
when Shylock begins, Hath not a Jew hands, etc. 



177 




Picture # 8: Cinque 



178 



NARRATOR: 

[The story continues with the next voice] 
The plight of these Africans attracted the attention of many Americans. One such 
American was well-known poet William Cullen Bryant who wrote a poem about the 
revolt's leader. Published in the Emancipator on September 19th, 1839 to coincide with 
Cinque's first day in court: 



WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT: 

Chained in a foreign land he stood, 

A man of giant frame. 

Amid the gathering multitude 

That shrunk to hear his name — 

All stem of look and strong of limb, 

His dark eye on the ground— 

And silently they gazed on him, 

As on a lion bound. 

Vainly, but well, that chief had fought— 

He was a captive now; 

Yet pride, that fortune humbles not, 

Was written on his brow. 

The scars his dark broad bosom wore 

Showed warrior true and brave; 

A prince among his tribe before. 

He could not be a slave. ^ 



'^ From Howard Jones, Mutiny on the Amistad (1987) page 66 



179 



[reading newspaper story about La Amistad Revolt] 

REPORTER: 

Prominent abolitionists Lewis Tappan, Roger Sherman Baldwin, and former president 
John Quincy Adams all championed the cause of the Amistad mutineers throughout the 
United States. After two years of suits in lower courts, the Supreme Court agreed with 
arguments in favor of acquittal by Adams and Baldwin, and ruled that Cinque and his 
compatriots had been illegally seized. 

CINQUE: 

We ago home now! 

NARRATOR: 

[As narrator walks back behind the podium] 
Another reform movement of the 1830's and 40's that aroused greater interest was that of 
education. To acquire an education was the burning desire of most free blacks, especially 
those who had formerly been slaves. Only a few northern communities and no southern 
ones had free public schools open to blacks. 

VOICE # 2: 
[From the audience reiterating a statement from a North Carolina legislator] 

"Gentlemen, I hope you do not conceive it at all necessary that everybody should be able 
to read, write, and cipher. If one is to keep a store or a school, or to be a lawyer or 
physician, such branches may, perhaps, be taught him; though I do not look upon them as 
by any means indispensable; but if he is to be a plain fanner, or a mechanic, they are of 
no manner of use, but rather a detriment." 

VOICE #1: 

[VOICE from across the floor makes statement that summarizes a public sentiment^ 

"It was a crime to teach Coloured children! Mobs in some localities invaded schools, 
burned books and ran teachers out of town if they talked of abolition to their classes or 
dared instruct Coloured children." 

PRUDENCE CRANDALL: 

I am Prudence Crandall. And I operate a boarding school for girls in Canterbury, 
Connecticut where in 1831 a Negro girl, Sarah Harris, applied for admission as a non- 
resident student. She was accepted, although most of the parents withdrew their daughters 
in protest. Acting on my Quaker beliefs, I opened a school especially for coloured girls. 
Why, the villagers tried to bum our school. They threw manure into my well, the local 
doctors refused to treat my students and the grocers even refused to sell me food. But to 
my school came Negro girls from Boston, Philadelphia and New York... 

[Congregation applauds her, giving her shouts of praise across the stage] 



180 





Picture # 9: The Huddling Masses 



181 



REPORTER: 

NEWS FLASH .... ADVANCING! At the Sabbath School Exhibition, held in Park-Street 
Church on the 4TH of July, the Coloured boys were permitted to occupy pews one fourth 
of the way up the side aisle. The march of equality has certainly begun in Boston! The 
Coloured girls took their seats near the door, as usual. 

ROSSETTA FORTEN: 

"I get along pretty well in school, but father. Miss Tracy the principal does not allow me 
into the room with the other scholars because I'm coloured. "^'^ 

NARRATOR: 

This was a common school like many that were opened—on a segregated basis—to 
increasing numbers of black children during the 1820's and 30's. This school tradition, 
which began in the home of Prince Hall, founder of the black Masonic Lodge, soon 
relocated to the basement of the African Meeting House. Later due to the generosity of 
the Abiel Smith estate, the Smith School was established for the instruction of Boston's 
black children. In 1 820, the Smith School opened in Boston, in the basement of the 
African Meeting House, as a citywide public school for black children. Although its plant 
was inadequate, it became the point of embarkation for many of Boston's future black 
leaders, but as a rule, free blacks in northern states paid school taxes even if their children 
were not allowed to attend the schools. Blacks thereby helped finance the public 
education of white children. Many black spokesmen were bitter in their denunciation of 
such public finance. Frederick Douglass, as usual, got to the core of the matter: 

FREDERICK DOUGLASS: 

"In the northern states, we are not slaves to individuals, not personal slaves, yet in many 
respects we are the slaves to the community."^' 

NARRATOR: 

Some black abolitionists recommend civil disobedience: 

CHARLES LENOX REDMOND: 

"Let every coloured man, called upon to pay taxes to any institution in which he is 
deprived or denied it privileges and advantages, withhold his taxes though it costs 
imprisonment or confiscafion. Let our motto be— No privileges. No Pay!" 

[Congregation shouts: No privileges, no pay\] 



^ Daughter of James Forten, wealthy black sail maker from Philadelphia 
^' Statement extracted from speech given on the subject of taxation and the Negro 

*^ In 1843 Charles Lenox Redmond with Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison were on a lecture 
tour for the New England Anti-Slavery Society. 



182 



NARRATOR: 

In defense of segregation, school and public authorities called on everything but 
experience. Boston school board members alleged that black children were a different 
sort altogether. 

[Three School committee members enter.] 

BOSTON SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBER: 

"Their peculiar physical, mental and moral structure requires an educational treatment, 
different, in some respects, from that of white children. Teachers of schools in which they 
are intermingled remark that, in those parts of study and instruction in which progress 
depends on memory or on the imitative faculties, chiefly, the colored children will often 
keep pace with white children; but when progress comes to depend chiefly on the 
faculties of invention, comparison, and reasoning, they quickly fall behind." 

NARRATOR: 

"Arguments were made to establish separate schools for black children on issues of race, 
even if the issue of equality, or proximity were not addressed. In the late 1840's Judge 
Perkins of the Supreme Court of Indiana granted a white parent's request that black 
children—who were paying tuition—be excluded from a public school so that the parent 
might send his own children there." 

JUDGE PERKINS: 

"This has not been done because they did not need education, nor because their wealth 
was such as to render aid undesirable, but because black children were deemed unfit 
associates of white, as school companions." 

NARRATOR: 

"In Boston, the chief Justice of the State argued that it was no hardship for all the city's 
black children to attend a single school, while white children often attended schools 
nearest their homes." 

JUSTICE SHAW: 
"In Boston, where more than one hundred thousand inhabitants live within a space so 
small ... it would be scarcely an inconvenience to require a boy of good health to traverse 
daily the whole extent of it." 

NARRATOR: 
Not satisfied with these limited and for the most part inferior learning conditions, (the 
entire city's black children attended this one school) the black community protested first 
by petitioning the city (William Cooper Nell during the 1840's through early 50's), then 
by the courts (Roberts vs. The City of Boston in 1849). Benjamin F. Roberts the father of 
Sara C. Roberts in 1849, sued, the city of Boston, to enter his child in the nearest school. 
Even though arguing in her defense were noted white abolitionist Charles Sumner and 
prominent black lawyer of the New England area Robert Morris, it was to no avail. The 
courts held that school authorities were not bound by any rule.^'' Blacks during this time 
struggled constantly for the right to learn, for the right to be taught in an equal and non- 



63 



This decision led to the 1896 'Separate but Equal' decision in the Plessy versus Fergusson case. 



183 



segregated setting. The conspiracy to keep them in ignorance was pervasive. Most ironic 
of all, free blacks were expected to pay taxes for schools they could not attend. 

VOICE # 2: 

Colored parents in protest removed their children from the Smith Street School, where 
they had been taught privately. They did this for six straight years until the legislature 
gave in. And on a Monday morning in September in 1855 the City of Boston's colored 
children returned to the public Smith Street School and other schools in their 
neighborhoods. 

SCHOOLBOY: 

Now we are like other Boston boys! 

VOICE #1: 

Runaways from the Deep South who made their way across the Mason-Dixon Line were 
usually slaves with a modicum of education and money. Ellen Craft, who had been 
fathered by her master and given to her half-sister as a child, worked as a seamstress in 
Macon, Georgia. Her husband, William Craft, was a cabinetmaker who moonlighted as a 
hotel waiter to earn extra money. Although they lived over a hundred miles apart their 
marriage was further strained by Ellen's fear of having a child who could be sold away 
from her. Shortly before Christmas in 1848, they matured a bold scheme for an escape. 

[William & Ellen Craft plan their escape.] '' 

ELLEN CRAFT: 

"Now William, listen to me and take my advice, and we shall be free in less than a 
month." 

WILLIAM CRAFT: 

"Let me hear your plans then." 

ELLEN CRAFT: 

"Take part of your money and purchase me a good suit of gentlemen's apparel, and when 
the white people give us our holiday, let us go off to the North. I am white enough to go 
as the master, and you can pass as my servant." 

WILLIAM CRAFT: 

"But you are not tall enough for a man." 

ELLEN CRAFT: 

"Give me a pair of very high-heeled boots, and they will bring me up more than an inch 
and get me a very high hat, then I'll do." 



^ The following account, written by Josephine Brown, a free woman, was based on conversations she had 
with Ellen Craft in the 1850's 



184 




Picture # 10: Runaways 



185 



WILLIAM CRAFT: 

"But then, my dear, you would make a very boyish looking man, with no whiskers or 
mustache." 

ELLEN CRAFT: 

"I could bind up my face in a handkerchief, as if I was suffering dreadfully from the 
toothache, and then no one would discover the want of beard." 

WILLIAM CRAFT: 

"What if you were called up to write your name in the books at hotels?" 

ELLEN CRAFT: 

"I would also bind up my right hand and put it in a sling, and that would be an excuse for 
not writing. 

WILLIAM CRAFT: 

"I fear you could not carry out the deception for so long a time, for it must be several 
hundred miles to the free states. 

ELLEN CRAFT: 

"Come William, don't be a coward! Get me the clothes, and I promise you we shall both 
be free in a few days. You have money enough to fit me out and to pay our passage to the 
North." 

NARRATOR: 

The right for education, freedom, and justice is issues we are always faced with. If we are 
to stand erect like men, then we must fight like men! Each year during the early 1800's, 
the south demanded more territory and gained more power in the federal government. It 
is now the year 1850 and a key issue that will effect every black cifizen of Boston is 
about to be discussed here at the African Meeting House. 

(END OF ACT ONE, SCENE ONE) 

[Note: the ending of this scene will be with narrator, center stage, concluding his speech 
and relinquishing the floor to the chairman of the meeting (Rev. Thompson).] 



186 



ACT ONE, SCENE TWO: 

[This scene is the discussion stage of the performance. It begins immediately after the 
Narrator from Scene One relinquishes the floor to Rev. Thompson.] 

REV. THOMPSON: 

The Fugitive Slave Act is part of a larger effort of the United States Congress to make 
states compromise with one another with the hope of keeping the country from having a 
Civil War. One of the issues at stake is that they are trying to satisfy those who want 
slavery maintained, those who want it expanded, and those who want it ended." One of 
the agreements being considered is The Fugitive Slave Act. Since the majority of you do 
not know what this law means, and how it will effect us, let me explain ... If passed: 

[Congregation rises to discuss this issue] 

VOICE #1: 

[Interrupts]" AW citizens must assist in the return of a fugitive. -Any citizen who helps a 
fugitive escape or interferes with an "official" trying to catch a fugitive can receive a 
$1,000 fine and six months in jail. 

VOICE #2: 

Negroes who are accused of being fugitives are not allowed to plead their defense in 
court. -Instead of judges and juries, special appointed commissioners determine what 
should happen to the fugitive. Note that Commissioners are paid for each case. They 
receive twice as much money if the decision accuses the Negro of being a fugitive. 

[There is a response from the audience to this news] 

REV. THOMPSON: 

Brothers and sisters, do you understand now what is happening here if the law is passed? 

VOICE #1: 

In the past we have helped slaves escape and officials have turned their backs ... and there 
have been no penalties. 

VOICE #2: 

In the past, a captured fugitive had the right to a court hearing. 

VOICE #1: 

Everyone in the Meeting House is against slavery. Some of us have used words and 
others have acted to protect fugitives. 

CONGREGATION: 

But what are we going to do? 



187 




Picture #11: The Meeting House Congregation 



188 



REV. THOMPSON: 

If one of our brethren is placed in jail, who will pay his fine? -If any of us is imprisoned 
who will care for our families? Will you brother still harbor fugitives and offer them safe 
passage? Or will you simply turn your back? 

[After all of the committees are engaged in discussion Lewis Hayden, prominent member 
of the African Meeting House, is delivered a message from a messenger. He rises and 
speaks to Rev. Thompson and the congregation.} 

LEWIS HAYDEN: 

Rev. Thompson! Rev. Thompson! May I have the floor? 

REV. THOMPSON: 

Brother Lewis Hayden, ever since you escaped on the Underground Railroad from 
Lexington, Kentucky and moved to Boston, with your wife Harriet, you have become an 
outspoken leader in the abolitionist movement. What information do you and your wife 
have for us to hear at this meeting? The Fugitive Slave Act is an issue of great 
importance to us all. 

LEWIS HAYDEN: 

Rev. Thompson 1 have just received the following news, delivered by messenger fi-om 
our most honoured brother Martin Robinson Delaney, the Fugitive Slave Act was just 
passed into law! 

REV. THOMIPSON: 

It appears that coming to a resolve in this meetings agenda is more crucial now that ever 
before. "Please, Brother Hayden you may definitely have the floor." (Addressing the 
congregation) All committees listen well. Take back this news your about to receive to 
every household. Brother Hayden tell us all that you know. 

LEWIS HAYDEN: 

[He presents a document that he reads aloud to the congregation. A visual appears at the 
same time that relates to his comments.] Caution Colored People One And All! 



189 



CAUTION ! ! 



COLORED PEOPLE 

OF BOSTON, ONE A ALL, 

You are hereby respectfully CAUTIONED and 

advised, to avoid conversing with the 

Watchmen and Police Officers 

of Boston, 

For since the recent 

ORDER OF THE MAYOR & ALDERMEN, 

they are empowered to act as 

KIDNAPPERS 

AND 

SLAVE CATCHERS 

And they have already been actually employed in 

KIDNAPPING, CATCHING, AND KEEPING 

SLAVES. Therefore if you value your LIBERTY, 

and the Welfare of the Fugitives among you, Shun 

them in every possible manner, as so many HOUNDS 

on the track of the most unfortunate of your race. 



Keep a Sharp Look Out for 

KIDNAPPERS, and have 

TOP EYE open.**' 



" This notice was posted in and around tlie city of Boston on or siiortly after April 24, 1851. 



190 




Picture # 12: William & Ellen Craft 



191 



REV. THOMPSON: 

[Interrupts and speaks to the congregation] "This news must be posted on every street 
lamp, nailed on every door. This new must spread through out New England for it affects 
all of us regardless of if we were bom free, emancipated, or fugitive, [turning to Louis 
Hayden.] This means Boston will cease to be a haven for escaped slaves? 

LEWIS HAYDEN: 

No, Rev. Thompson regardless of what effect this law will have we will continue! 

CONGREGATION: 

That's right brother Hayden. We are with you! 

LEWIS HAYDEN: 

My wife Harriet and I will still use our home as a station on the Underground Railroad, 
but besides this we now have a problem that must be addressed. 

REV. THOMPSON: 

We are ail ears! Please continue. 

LEWIS HAYDEN: 

Brother William, sister Ellen will please step forward. 

[William and Ellen Craft move forward] 

WILLIAM CRAFT: 

Although our return to Boston was only recent, we have hoped to start a new life here in 
the North. With the passing of this law our future is uncertain. 

ELLEN CRAFT: 

We can now be assured that already we are being hounded by agents sent by our ... 
master ... to locate and return us back to Georgia ... to bondage! 

CONGREGATION: 

No! Never! We carmot allow that. 

MRS. HARRIET HAYDEN: 

The Crafts are well known in these parts. It behooves us to come to their aid at this time 
of great emergency! For the Slave Catchers could very well be in pursuit of them at this 
very hour! My husband and I can offer them refuge. .."We, as always, will keep two kegs 
of gunpowder on our porch, ever ready for that final hour when it is deemed necessary 
that it would be better to blow up our home rather than surrender any ex-slave that comes 
to us for refuge. 



192 



USHER: 

[Usher running in... J 
Brother Hayden I see someone coming! Quick hide them within the congregation at 
once!... 

REV. THOMPSON: 

Please! Let us resume our previous positions. Whom ever is approaching must think that 
nothing is amiss. Let us all rise in song... 

[The congregation begins singing "Steal Away. "] 

CHOIR: 

"Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus. 
Steal away, steal away home I ain't got long to stay here." 

[Enters a pair of Slave catchers, apparently searching for someone. The congregation 
completes singing the verse and begins humming the next one as the Slave Catcher 
speaks.] 

SLAVE CATCHER: 

We're searching for a pair of runaways. A dark skinned buck and a high yella, near white 
looking winch. They where last seen in these a hear parts. Have ya seen 'em? 

[Addressing Rev. Thompson, who merely shakes his head, no. One of the slave catchers, 
directed by the other, proceeds to comb the congregation in search of the runaways. The 
Crafts, well hidden by the congregation are seen exiting without being detected by the 
Slave Catchers. A short time passes and the Slave Catchers convinced that the runaways 
are nowhere to be found move toward Rev. Thompson as if to harass him. Enters Martin 
Robinson Delaney greeted by ushers and members of the congregation. He approaches 
the Hayden 's and Rev. Thompson center stage. The Slave Catchers seeing his apparent 
support of the congregation move cautiously towards the door. As one of Slave Catchers 
and Delaney pass each other they stare in each other 's eyes. The other Slave Catcher 
deliberately bumps into Delaney as they exit.] 

REV. THOMPSON: 

Greeting Brother Delaney. Brother Hayden has just shared with us the tragic news you 
forwarded by messenger. Please tell us your thoughts. 

[As Delaney begins Amazing Grace is hummed in the background] 

MARTIN ROBINSON DELANY: 

By the provisions of this bill the colored people of the United States are positively 
degraded beneath the level of the whites - are made liable at any time, in any place, and 
under all circumstances, to be arrested, and, upon the claim of any white person, without 
the privilege even of making a defense, sent into endless bondage. Let no visionary 
nonsense about habeas corpus, or a fair trial, deceive us; there are no such rights granted 



193 



in this bill ... There is no earthly chance - no hope under heaven for the coloured person 
who is brought before one of these officers of the law. The slave is more secure than we; 
he knows who holds the hell upon his bosom - we know not the wretch who may grasp us 

by the throat Good or bad, mild or harsh, easy or hard, lenient or severe, saint or Satan 

- whenever that master demands any one of us, even our affectionate wives and darling 
little children, we must go into slavery - there is no alternative. The will of the man who 
sits in judgment on our liberty, is the law... This is the power over the slave in the south 
that is now extended to the North... What can we do? What shall we do? This is the great 
and important question: -Shall we submit to be dragged like brutes before heartless men, 
and sent into degradation and bondage? Shall we fly, or shall we resist?^^ 

[Charlotte Forten Grimke rises and addresses the Rev. Thompson while the congregation 
is singing. As the Rev. speaks one-by-one attention is drawn to the visual of the "Caution 
Coloured People" poster until all eyes, and harsh facial expressions, are on it.\ 

CHARLOTTE FORTEN GRIMKE: 

The 4th of July, the celebration of this day! What a mockery it is! My soul sickens of it. I 
am glad to see that the people are much less demonstrative in their mock patriotism than 
of old. Miss James showed me a photograph of a young slave girl who escaped in a box. 
My heart was full as I gazed at it; full of admiration for the heroic girl, who risked all for 
freedom; full of indignation that in this boasted land of liberty such a thing could occur. 
Were she of any other nation her heroism would receive all due honor from these 
Americans, but as it is, there is not even a single spot in this broad land, where her rights 
can be protected, - not one. Only in the dominions of a queen is she free. How long. Oh 
God! how long will this continue! 

[Congregation continues singing.] 

CONGREGATION: 

"Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus. 
Steal away, steal away home I ain't got long to stay here. 

[From the audience Frederick Douglass speaks] 

FREDERICK DOUGLASS: 

"Fellow Citizens: Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here 
today? What have 1, or those I represent to do with your national independence? 

I say it with a sad sense of disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this 
glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance 
between us. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn... My 
subject, then fellow citizens, is "American Slavery.... 



*^ Martin Robinson Deianey commenting on the 18 September 1850 bill that established the Fugitive Slave 
Law. 



194 



What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the 
subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave 
is a man? Is it not astonishing that while we are plowing, planting, and using all kinds of 
mechanical tools,. ..that while we are reading, writing, and ciphering, acting as clerks and 
merchants having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, orators, and teachers; that, while 
we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men..., living in families as 
husbands, wives, and children, and above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian's 
God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave— we are called 
upon to prove that we are men! 

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightfiil owner of 
his own body? You have already declared it. What! Am I to argue that it is wrong to 
make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them 
ignorant of their relations to their fellow-men, ...Must I argue that a system, thus marked 
with blood and stained with pollution is wrong? No, I will not. I have better employment 
for my time and strength than such arguments would imply. 

[Congregation rise, shout approval and move to center stage. \ 

What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him 

more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the 

constant victim. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and 

bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour. 

Congregation each facing different directions, continues singing and as they walk off 

stage."^' 

NARRATOR: 

In 1852 on July 5th in Rochester, New York Frederick Douglass delivered this stirring 
speech "What to the Slave is the Forth of July. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, 
founding principles that Thomas Jefferson wrote in the United State's Declaration of 
Independence.... All men are created equal. A luxury that only white America during the 
1850's could embrace. Yet during this time, the sons and daughters of Africa must prove 
that they are human before acquiring their freedom. 

CONGREGATION: 

"Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus. 
Steal away, steal away home I ain't got long to stay here 

[Fade to black] 
[END ACT ONE] 

INTERMISSION 



^' An extraction from Frederick Douglass' speech "What To The Slave Is The Fourth of July? " Delivered 
July 5, 1852 in Rochester, new York 



195 



ACT TWO, SCENE ONE: 

[Light rises on Narrator who begins at the same time Frederick Douglass freezes facing 
down stage.] 

NARRATOR: 

Those were the words of Frederick Douglass. An escaped slave, Frederick Douglass was 
one of the foremost black abolitionists and civil rights leaders in the United States. His 
powerful speeches, newspaper articles, and books awakened whites to the evils of slavery 
and inspired blacks in their struggle for freedom and equality. His statement (date) 
captures the essences of the then socio-political climate that African-Americans for 
generations were subjected to in this country. However not all African- Americans were 
docile; some used physical means to acquire their freedom while others through their 
documented deeds used "Words to Revolt." 

[Frederick Douglass exits as a Newspaper reporter enters from stage right and crosses to 
center stage and begins speaking. Light dims on Narrator.] 

REPORTER: 

Newspaper and magazine interviews of Fugitive Slaves were documented through out 
history. In Voice of the Fugitive in five successive interviews, Mr. Smith tells of how he 
obtained his freedom. (All Voices enter from various positions on stage and converge 
center stage, gathering around the Reporter.) In the 22nd of April 1852 installment, his 
story continues at this point bloodhounds are pursuing him. 

VOICE #1: 

"We left Smith and his hunting dog surrounded and kept at bay for a short time, by the 
blood hounds; but there being only three of them in number, they were soon killed or 
compelled to retreat. This victorious struggle, by the aid of the faithful hunting dog, 
endeared him to his master stronger than ever; for without his aid Smith must have been 
taken back into slavery. From thence they proceeded north to the Virginia and Ohio line, 

CO 

which occupied several nights." 

VOICE # 2: 

"They traveled by night and kept concealed by day, until the reached the above river with 
no other guide than the North Star. In wandering up and down the stream to find a 
conveyance to cross in he saw a large steamboat passing down the stream, which 
confirmed him in the belief that this was the Ohio River, having heard much about the 
steamboats running that river... and succeeded in crossing." 



** Excerpt from Voice of the Fugitive published in April 22, 1852 in five installments in various Black and 
Abolitionist newspapers. During that year in three successive installments Mr. Smith tells of his escape 
to freedom. 

^'Second except of Voices of Freedom 



196 




Picture #13: A Runaway 



197 



VOICE #1: 

"The next morning he saw an old gentleman in whom he found a friend and an 
abolitionist. This friend sent him on to another friend about thirty miles distance, who 
gave him employment for five years." 

VOICE #2: 

"From thence he came to Huron Co., Ohio, where he purchased a small farm and lived on 
it about seven years, having given up all hopes of ever seeing his wife again; but in the 
Fall of 1850, after the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Bill, the news came to him that a 
warrant was out for him, and that if he did not flee way to Canada, he would be taken as a 
slave. On the strength of this report, at a very great sacrifice, he sold his property and 
went to Canada."'' 

VOICE #1: 

"While traveling about among his fugitive brethren, he found a man who told him he 
knew a woman in Canada who was from near Richmond, Virginia, who had once 
belonged to a man there by the name of William Wright: this of course aroused Mr. 
Smith's curiosity to see the woman; so he went the next day to where he had been told 
that she lived. As he approached the house he saw a female whom he thought resembled 
"Fanny," his long bereft wife; and, as he approached her with trembling lest he be 
mistaken he offered his hand and ventured to call her by her former name, to which she 
answered with astonishment. At this moment her eyes sparkled and flashed like strokes of 
lightning upon his furrowed cheeks and wrinkled brow, and with uplifted hands and 
joyful heart she exclaimed from the depths of her soul, "oh! Is this my beloved husband 
who 1 never again expected to see? They are now living happily together on the Queen's 
"Free Soil."'^ 

[Voices exits stage left as Voice # 2 enters from up stage left and crossing down center.] 

UNCLE ISOM: 

"Talking "bout niggers running away, didn't my step pappy run away? Didn't my Uncle 
Gabe run away? The frost would just bite they toes 'most nigh off too, whiles they was 
gone. They put Uncle Isom (my step pappy) in jail, and whiles he was in there he killed a 
white guardsman. Then they put in the paper, "A nigger to kill," and our master seen it 
and bought him. He was a double-strengthed man. He was so strong. He'd run off, so help 
you God. They had the bloodhounds after him once, and he caught the hound what was 
leading and beat the rest of the dogs. The white folks run up on him before he knowed it 
and made them dogs eat his ear plumb out. But, don't you know, he got away anyhow. 



™ Third excerpt from Voices of Freedom 

' Forth excerpt from Voice of freedom 

^^ Fifth excerpt from Voices of Freedom 



198 




Picture #14 Another Runaway 



199 



One morning I was sweeping out the hall in the big house, and somebody come a- 
knocking on the front door, and I goes to the door. There was Uncle Isom with rags all on 
his head. He said, "tell Old Master here I am." He say, "Go round to the kitchen and tell 
black mammy to give you breakfast." When he was through eating, they give him three 
hundred lashes and, bless my soul, he run off again." 

[Voice # I and # 2 move down center. Picture # 17: Jesus Was Black?. Yes He Was! ] 

JESUS WAS BLACK? YES HE WAS!: 

We have as much right biblically and otherwise to believe that God is a Negro, as you 
buckra or white people have to believe that God is a fine looking, symmetrical and 
ornamented white man. For the bulk of you and all the fool Negroes of the country 
believe that God is a white-skinned, blue-eyed, straight-haired, projecting nosed, 
compressed lipped and finely robed white gentleman, sitting upon a throne somewhere in 
the heavens. Every race of people since time began who have attempted to describe their 
God by words, or by paintings, or by carvings, or by any other form or figure, have 
conveyed the idea that the God who made them and shaped their destinies was 
symbolized in themselves, and why should not the Negro believe that he resembles God 
as much as other people? 

VOICE #1: 
Was Jesus a member of the Negro race? 

VOICE # 2: 
Yes. Matthew 1: 

VOICE # 1: 
How do you know? 

VOICE #2: 
Because He was in the line of Abraham and David the King... 

VOICE #1: 

Should we make a difference in people because they are Negro? 

VOICE #2: 

No. Jeremiah. 13:23. 

VOICE #1: 

Why? 

VOICE #2: 

Because it is as natural to be black as the leopard to be spotted. Jeremiah. 13:23 



200 




Picture # 15 Jesus Was Black? Yes He Was! 



201 



[Light fades on center stage. Light simultaneously rises on Narrator up center stage still 
at podium. \ 

NARRATOR: 

Segregation in housing, transportation, education, and employment during the ante- 
bellum period in Boston continued to be issues that African Americans rallied in protest 
and opposition to. The black church aided in addressing these concerns. The black church 
was not only a place of worship it proved time and time again to be the community's 
center. If offered new immigrants introduction to the community, assisting in finding 
housing and employment. 

[Seen entering down right is Anthony Bums. Voices enter encircling Anthony Bums.\ 

VOICE #1: 

Anthony Bums bom a slave in Virginia was 19 when he escaped to Boston in 1854. 



VOICE #2: 

Here in Boston only a few months he was arrested under the Fugitive Slave Act when his 
former owner Charles Suttle arrived in Boston seeking the retum of his property. 

VOICE #1: 

His hearing triggered a massive riot in Boston. The Negro community mobilized an 
attempt to break Bums from captivity. Guns were fired ... but the Negro citizens were no 

match for this now mounting horde of white armed local troops On June 2nd when the 

decision to retum Bums to Virginia was announced thousands of troops were called out, 
and Boston was under martial law.^^ 

(Bells heard off stage) 

VOICE #2: 

Bells tolled in the city's churches when a sole Negro figure was marched down the center 
of the street, each side lined up with armed militia holding back the crowds... 



VOICE #1: 

...prepared to fire on anyone who attempted to rescue him, especially those members of 
the free Negro community. 



^' Information obtained from Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of as Fugitive Slave by Virginia 
Hamilton 



202 





Picture # 16: Anthony Burns 



203 



VOICE # 2: 

As he boarded a vessel docked on long wharf and it prepared to set sail for Virginia, most 
of us felt that this would be the last that we would see or hear of this young man Anthony 
Bums. 

VOICE #1: 

How long, Oh God! How long will this continue! 

NARRATOR: 

The Fugitive Slave Bums, who resided in Boston and worked in a clothing store owned 
by Cofm Pitts, was one of this city's first casualties. 

[Voices pantomime through next piece.] 

NARRATOR: 

In less than a year Anthony Bums returned to Boston a free man, for Rev. Leonard 
Grimes, Coffin Pitts, and members of the Twelfth Baptist Church had collected funds and 
arranged his purchase. The church stood as a spiritual, social, and physical haven for the 
black community. . . 

[Voices taking various positions travel down stage.] 

NARRATOR: 

By the 1 840 the black population of Boston had reach near two thousand. Their limited 
job market was threatened by the wave of white immigration. The potato rot in Ireland in 
1845 and the repeal of the English Com Law in 1846 brought to an end Ireland's 
favorable position in the British trade system. This disastrous condition caused a mass 
influx of Irish immigrants to the United States. Most of these immigrants came to the city 
with no shelter or employment. They immediately became competitors for the once 
exclusive jobs that blacks held. Jobs once held by black, cooks, porters, laborers were 
being steadily filled by these 'new' immigrants. By 1850, Irish workers were filling over 
7,000 laboring jobs. By 1860 2.5 million Irish would immigrate to the United States, and 
those entering Boston rose from 443 in 1836 to more than 65,556 by 1846. 

VOICE #1: 

Most Colored families lived in multiple-family dwellings. Within our households lived 
extended families. In addition this included the taking-on of boarders. 

NARRATOR: 

With limited housing and unfavorable economic and social conditions, living within this 
paradigm for African Americans was their cultural/racial responsibility. (Voices exit) 
These pattems of ethnic and racial communal boundaries still in many ways exist today. 
Boston on the one hand, is proud of its cultural heritage and traditions and it's those 
traditions that tourism often banks upon. However, on the other hand it is this 



204 



ethnic/racial separation, this city of polarized neighborhoods that is often central to the 
city's racial and cultural problems. 

[Enters from stage right] 

NARRATOR: 

On September 22, 1 862, President Lincoln issued a proclamation that later he called "the 
central act of my administration, and the greatest event of the 19th Century." The 
Emancipation Proclamation promised freedom for slaves held in any of the Confederate 
states that did not return to the union by the end of the year. When the Civil War broke 
out in 1861, the Abolitionists had urged Lincoln to take this step and had criticized him 
for refusing to do so. He replied: 

LINCOLN: 

"My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either save or destroy slavery. If I 
decree emancipation for the slave at the beginning of the war, Missouri, Kentucky, and 
probably Maryland would most certainly join the South in secession. ^"^ 

NARRATOR: 

After the war had been in progress for more than a year, there was no danger of this, but 
there was a need at that time to enlist the public opinion of the world in behalf of the 
Union. Freeing the slaves would do this. Lincoln had drawn up the proclamation in July 
1862. However, Secretary of State William Henry Seward urged that the proclamation 
should not be issued at that time. 



[Enters from stage left, addressing Lincoln. The two exit stage left and right respectively 
while Voice # / and Frederick Douglass enter from up stage left and right and travel 
down center replacing them J 

NARRATOR: 

Lincoln vowed to issue the proclamation after the first Union victory. The occasion came 
with the battle of Antietam on September 17, and a preliminary proclamation that 
affected about 3 million slaves was issued on September 22, 1862. The Confederate 
states and their slave holders paid no attention to it's warning, even after January 1 , 1 863 
when Lincoln issued the final version of the proclamation. You see the Final 
proclamation did not apply to the Border States, which were not in rebellion against the 
Union, and it could not be enforced in the regions held by Confederate troops. 

NARRATOR: 

Black leaders such as the author William Wells Brown, the physician Martin R. Delaney, 
and Frederick Douglass vigorously recruited blacks into the Union armed forces. 
Douglass declared in the North Star: 



'"* Abraham Lincoln's response to Abolitionist concerning the issue of slavery 



205 




Picture # 17: Lincoln & Douglass Debate 



206 



FREDERICK DOUGLASS: 

"Who would be free themselves must strike the first blow." 

VOICE #1: 

As the Northern armies captured a region, the slaves there were given their fi-eedom. 
Many of the freed slaves joined the Union Army. 

[Enter Voices who join the others center stage.] 

NARRATOR: 

The Civil War (1861-1865) for African Americans at the time, be they free or slave, was 
a war for liberation. Although the Union [North] was reluctant to enlist blacks into the 
military two important turns of events happened which change the course of history. 

VOICE #1: 

First was the political maneuvering of President Abraham Lincoln. The Civil War was 
now two years old and the North had not garnered a major victory yet. The President's 
armed forces were loosing the war at every front. He desperately needed a symbolic 
moral victory to turn the tide. When he passed the Emancipation Proclamation in January 
of 1863, which freed slaves in the territories of the Union, for all practical purposes it 
would have been nothing more than mere words on paper had he not attached this 
enactment with a Union military victory. A desperately needed battle victory to coincide 
with the official announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation would make it a major 
political statement. 

VOICE # 2: 

Second due to high casualties, the North desperately needed more recruits. The North 
reluctantly put prejudice aside and two month later a public "Call To Arms" went out to 
the African- American community asking them to enlist in the Union Army. 

VOICE #1: 

Frederick Douglass was appointed by then Governor of Massachusetts John A. Andrew, 
to help recruit a regiment of African-American soldiers for the Commonwealth. In his 
public address at the African Meeting House, Frederick Douglass stated: 

FREDERICK DOUGLASS: 

"When first the rebel cannon shattered the walls of Sumter, I predicted that the war ... 
would not be fought out entirely by white men. Every month's experience during these 
two dreary years, has confirmed that opinion ... Only a moderate share of sagacity was 
needed to see that the arm of the slave was the best defense against the arm of the 
slaveholding rebels, I have implored the imperiled nation to unchain against her foes her 
powerful black hand ... Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even 
die free, than to live slaves ... by every aspiration that you cherish for the freedom and 
equality of yourselves and your children ... I urge you to fly to arms, and strike with death 



207 



the power that would bury the Government and your Liberty in the same hopeless grave. 
The day dawns - the morning star is bright upon the horizon! The iron gate of our prison 
stands half open. One gallant rush from the North will fling it wide open, while four 
millions of our brothers and sisters shall march out into Liberty! The chance is now given 
you to end in a day the bondage of centuries, and to rise in one bound from social 
degradation to the plane of common equality with all other varieties of men.^^ 

[All Voices remain down stage but reposition themselves at different location.} 

NARRATOR: 

The African-American males who responded to Douglass' "Call To Arms" not only came 
from Greater Boston and various parts of New England but from every state of the North, 
with three from the West Indies and an additional twenty-one from Canada. They 
represented all walks of life and educational and economical backgrounds. Racist 
opponents in the North, through fear or ignorance, launched a smear campaign to 
discredit any attempt at black recruitment. When this failed to stop recruitment efforts 
they tried to spread slanderous remarks stereotyping the black recruits. 

VOICE #1: 

... slander that they would not fight, paid them less than white solders, denied them Negro 
officers. Rebel generals threatened that any Negro soldier captured on the field of battle, 
as well as any white officer with him, would be enslaved, hanged or shot as an inciter of 
slave insurrection. There are two misconceptions concerning the Negroes involvement in 
the Civil War and the Abolitionist Movement that must be addressed. One misconception 
is the belief that all Negro people lived in slavery in the South before the Civil War. In 
fact 500,000 free Negroes lived through out the North and South about evenly divided 



VOICE # 2: 

Another perception was that Abolitionists were high and mighty white Northerners, 
mostly Bostonians. In fact for their relatively small population in Northern cities Negroes 
made up the majority of Abolitionist. In all Northern cities that had a Negro presence, the 
community was a highly organized and diligent force in the fight against slavery. The 
small Negro community of Boston, about 2% of the city's population, could not support 
an entire Colored regiment. Prominent Negro Abolitionists were hired as recruiters: Rock 
Sweat Rock (who later becomes the first Black Attorney)- covered New England; 
Frederick Douglass - recruited in New York; Martin Delaney - went to Illinois and 
Indiana; and others traveled as far as Canada. Due to racial tension often by poor whites 
that refused to accept Blacks as their equals, recruitment went on in secrecy. 



'^ Except from Frederick Douglass' Call To Arms speech delivered at the African Meeting House 1863. 



208 




Picture # 18 Call To Arms 



209 



[Seen alone is a young Black man in movement. First being defiant, then distraught, then 
curious, then finally, proud, marching off.] 

NARRATOR: 

Offspring of some of the famous Black Abolitionist enlisted. Sojourner Truth's grandson 
and the sons of Frederick Douglass and Martin Delaney along with people from all walks 
of life. Eli Bittle (19 years old) who refused to sing My Country 'Tis Of Thee, was 
dismissed from school and roamed the street of Boston. He did this as a personal protest 
against the singing of a patriotic song that boasted of a land of liberty that he did not 
share. That day he happened upon a recruiter for the 54th Regiment and enlisted on the 
spot. Eli Bittle was one of the surviving members of the 54th Regiment. After the 
establishment of the 54th Regiment twenty other regiments were formed. Another 
important note is that 10,000 African Americans chose the Navy like Abolitionist Lewis 
Hayden's son. In all 178,975 Black served as soldiers in the Union Army. The battle of 
Fort Wagner that the 54th Regiment was engaged in and suffered 50% casualties, was a 
small affair as battles go but it's importance was in the long run, and what it said about 
the human spirit and the light of truth it sheds on history. 

[Scattered voices are heard as reflections of the past. One-by-one assembling down 
center stage, positioning themselves in various stances.] 

VOICE #2: 

I worked in the house; Mistress wa'n't going to let nobody wash them julep glasses but 
me. 



VOICE #1: 

Mammy was a field hand ... she hated housework - like me. 

VOICE # 2: 

1 ain't scared of nothing. 

VOICE #1: 

I belong to a full-blood Creek Indian, and I didn't know nothin' but Creek talk long after 
the Civil War. 



VOICE # 2: 

The souls is all white or black, 'pending on the man's life and not on his skin. 

VOICE # 1: 

I got the scars on my body to show to this day. 



210 



VOICE #2: 

1 been dragged about and put through the shackles so bad I done forgot some of my 
children's names. 



VOICE # 2: 

Time I was ten years old I was making a regular hand' hind the plow. 

VOICE #1: 

I'm happy and satisfied now, and I hopes 1 see a million years to come. 

[Images of Black Civil War Soldiers are seen as up stage as Voices exit in various 
directions.] 

NARRATOR: 

Before the war was over, almost 200.000 black soldiers, organized in 166 regiments of 
infantry, cavalry, and artillery, together with almost 30,000 black sailors- about one- 
quarter of the navy- had fought so effectively that Abraham Lincoln, seconding Douglass, 
was of the opinion that "the black phalanx was the critical weight that had tipped the 
scale in favor of the Union triumph." 

[Image of Sergeant William Carney is seen up stage, he enters from stage left carrying 
U.S. flag.] 

During the battle Sergeant Carney although wounded three times, held the flag and never 
let the flag touch the ground. To these black servicemen Congress awarded, for their 
gallantry and intrepidity in action, twenty Medals of Honor. Sergeant William Carney of 
New Bedford was the first African American awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor 
for bravery at the battle of Fort Wagner in 1863. 

[Image changes to flag he saved hanging in the Hall of Flags at the Massachusetts State 
House.] 

By the end of the Civil War more than 186,000 black men were in the Union Army. They 
performed heroically despite discrimination in pay, rations, equipment, and assignments 
and the unrelenting hostility of the Confederate troops. Regiments like Boston's 54th and 
55 Regiments displayed unparalleled bravery in numerous battles. Black slaves also 
served as a labor force for the Confederacy, but thousands of these slaves dropped their 
tools and escaped to the Union lines. 

(Fades to dim.) 
[END OF ACT TWO, SCENE ONE] 



211 



ACT TWO, SCENE TWO: 

[Light rises on Narrator as Voices enter one-by-one from various directions, converging 
at center stage in Victorian era dress.^ 

NARRATOR: 

As a result of the Union victory in the Civil War and the ratification of the 13th 
Amendment of the Constitution (1865), nearly 4 million black slaves were freed. The 
14th Amendment (1868) granted blacks citizenship, and the 15th Amendment (1870) 
guaranteed their rights to vote. 

[Images of Victorian era African Americans are seen up stage.] 

VOICE 1: 

Yet the Reconstruction period was one of disappointment and frustration for the Negro, 
for these new provisions of the constitution were often ignored, particularly in the South. 
After the Civil War, we freedmen were thrown largely on our own meager resources. 
Landless and uprooted, we had to move about in search of work because we generally 
lacked adequate food, clothing, and shelter. The federal Freedman's Bureau, established 
by Congress in 1865, assisted us by giving us food and helped us in finding jobs and 
homes for our families. 

VOICE 2: 

The bureau established hospitals and schools, including such institutions of higher 
learning as Fisk University and Hampton Institute. Northern philanthropic agencies, such 
as the American Missionary Association, also aided we freedmen. Many Southerners 
feared that the liberated slaves would rise in bloody revolt. But we freedmen were too 
busy trying to eke out a living and searching for our loved ones to be concerned about 
revenge. The Southern states enacted laws resembling the earlier slave codes. These 
"Black Codes" restricted our movement in an effort to force us to work as plantation 
laborers— often for our former masters—at absurdly low wages. During these years the 
emancipated Negro never received his forty acres and a mule that the government 
promised us in order to start a new life. 

NARRATOR: 

Now that the black man is free who will employ him? How will he feed his family? 
Where will he live? 



Coloured people are not accepted! 

Whites only! 

Your not welcomed here, boy! 



VOICE #1: 



VOICE # 2: 



VOICE #1: 



, 212 

VOICE # 2: 

We don't employ your kind, now git! 

VOICES: 

NIGGER'S!! 

[Images of a group of Black elected officials is seen up stage.\ 

NARRATOR: 

During the Reconstruction period, blacks wielded some political power in the South for 
the first time. Their leaders were largely clergymen, lawyers, and teachers who had been 
educated in the North and abroad. Among the ablest were Robert B. Elliott of South 
Carolina and John R. Lynch of Mississippi. Both were speakers of their respective state 
House of Representatives and were members of the United States Congress. 

NARRATOR: 

Between 1869-1901, 20 black representatives and 2 black senators— Hiram R. Revels and 
Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi— sat in the United States Congress. But black political 
power was short-lived. Northern politicians grew increasingly conciliatory to the white 
south, so that by 1 872 virtually all leaders of the Confederacy had been pardoned and 
were able to vote and hold office. By means of economic pressure and the terrorist 
activities of violent anti-black groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, most blacks were kept 
away from the polls. 

[Negative image of Black elected officials on the cover of Harper's Bazaar Magazine is 
seen.} 

VOICE 1: 

By 1877, with the withdrawal of the last federal troops from the South, Southern whites 
were again in full control. The rebirth of white supremacy in the South was accompanied 
by the growth of enforced racial separation. Starting with Tennessee in 1 870, all the 
Southern states reenacted laws prohibiting racial intermarriage. They also passed Jim 
Crow laws segregating Negroes and whites in almost all public places. 

VOICE 2: 

By 1885, most Southern states had officially segregated their public schools. The 
provisions of new state constitutions such as those adopted by Mississippi in 1 890 and by 
South Carolina and Louisiana in 1 895 disfranchised Negroes. Only a few Southern Negro 
elected officials lingered on. No coloured man was to serve in the United States Congress 
for three decades after the departure of George H. White of North Carolina in 1901. 

[Images of frontage of slave narrative books are seen up stage.} 

Determined that future generations would not forget our legacy many of us former slaves 
became literary celebrities. The publishing of slave narratives was widely successful. It 
appeared that the hopes and aspirations of this newly acknowledged Negro American 
population would be realized. 



213 




Picture # 19: Booker T. Washington 



214 



[Image of the Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling is seen up stage.] 

NARRATOR: 

With the passing of 'JIM CROW" laws geared at maintaining the "status quo" by 
"keeping blacks in their place" the South became a difficult place to live. By the turn of 
the 20th century large numbers of blacks began a mass exodus from the South to the 
North, and Northwest creating their own towns, seeking a new way of life. 

[Enters from stage left is Booker T. Washington who moves down center stage and 
freezes. The light is dim around him. The Narrator continues.} 

With this movement raised the question of what direction was the fiiture of this new 
black population heading. An open controversy over acceptable black leadership began in 
1895, when Booker T. Washington founder of Tuskegee Institute was invited to address a 
white audience at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, GA. While 
emphasizing the importance of economic advancement to blacks, he repeatedly used the 
paraphrase: 

[Light rises on Booker T Washington.] 

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: 

Cast down your buckets where you are." 

[Entering from different directions are Voices #1,2, converging on to center stage to 
where Washington is speaking forming a small gathering of listeners. They assemble 
around Washington as he continues in pantomime.} 

NARRATOR: 

During the year 1 895 several important events took place that effected African American 
leadership in the United States. That year the famous Black orator Frederick Douglass, 
not soon after giving a fiery speech for a rally organized by Anti-Lynching crusader Ida 
B. Wells, passed away leaving a tremendous legacy as the premiere African American 
civil rights activist of the 19th century. That same year Booker T. Washington, founder of 
Tuskegee Institute, began his ascent as an Aft-ican American leader, when asked to 
deliver an address at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition. 

[Voice # 1 turns and steps down stage towards the audience.} 

VOICE #1: 

Designed to explain to mainly a white listening public the status of the Negro and the 
self-perpetuated economic means to deliver them from their dire straits, this address was 
hailed by the white and segments of the Negro public as a positive statement about the 
Negro community's achievement potential... establishing Washington as the consummate 
Colored leader. 

[Voice # 1 turns and steps back up stage as Voice # 2 turns and steps down stage towards 
the audience.] 



215 



VOICE # 2: 

However this speech later dubbed The Atlanta Compromise Address' stressed that the 
Negro should not at this time strive for political and social equality until achieving 
economic stability comparable to white society. 

[Voice # 2 turns and steps back up stage as Voice U^ I turns and steps down stage towards 
the audience.} 

VOICE #1: 

This stance, although greatly embraced by the white status quo, did not sh well with 
leading Colored intellectuals of the day. Some Negroes were incensed by his comment. 

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: 

"The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is 
extremist folly." 

VOICE # 2: 

Others feared that the enemies of equal rights were encouraged by his promise. 

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: 

"In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the 
hand in all things essential to mutual progress... My conciliatory policy appealed to white 
politicians, many of whom contributed money to Tuskegee Institute. 

[Enters from stage right is W. E. B. DuBois] 

It afforded me the opportunity to become an advisor to several United States Presidents 
on racial issues and on the appointment of the Negro to government positions. In the 
South many Negroes have been motivated by my self- help programs." 

W. E. B. Du BOIS: 

"Yes but in the North, many criticize your attitude towards racial segregation and 
discrimination including myself 1 argue that it is higher education, rather than vocational 
training, and political agitation that would eventually win fiill civil rights for the Negro." 

[Voices exit in different directions leaving Washington & DuBois center stage facing 
each other. \ 

NARRATOR: 

In 'The Souls of Black Folk" (1903), Du Bois, the first African American to earn a Ph.D. 
from Harvard University, declared that the problem of the "Twentieth Century is the 
problem of the color-line." He criticized Washington for accepting racial discrimination 
and minimizing the value of college training for blacks. Du Bois felt that blacks needed 
higher education for leadership. In his essay "The Talented Tenth" he wrote; 



216 



W. E. B. Du BOIS: 

"The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men." 

NARRATOR: 

The split between Washington and Du Bois reflected a bitter division of opinion among 
black leaders. 

[Washington exits stage left as simultaneously DuBois exits stage right. Leaving the 
Narrator up stage, light dims, fading to black.] 

(END OF ACT TWO) 



217 



ACT THREE, SCENE ONE: 

[Act Three Scene One opens with the light rising on late 19th century politician George 
L. Ruffin positioned up stage center. Center stage is slowly lit dimly as Ruffin walks down 
center into the light.] 

NARRATOR: 

The political climate of Boston during the late 19th century was influenced greatly by 
ethnic prejudice in which one ethnic group who happened to gamer some political power 
or influence abused another new less fortunate group. Blacks who for the most part were 
not immigrants in the European tradition tended to receive prejudice of a different sort, 
racism. What one white immigrant group did to another was tame compared to what 
many old and new immigrant groups did to its black population. However a few blacks 
did serve in political offices bravely stepping forward and lending voice for those whose 
needs and concerns often went unheard. 

[Enters from stage left is George Ruffin who crosses down center speaking. Light rises on 
him.] 

GEORGE L. RUFFIN: 

I George L. Ruffin, was the first Negro on the Boston City Council. I held office for a 
year, 1876-1877. 1 was later followed by: 

[Images of Boston African American Politicians are seen up stage. As Ruffin does a role 
call of names (heard off stage) of late 19th century councilmen.] 

James W.Pope, 1881 

William 0. Armstrong, 1885-1886 

Andrew B. Leattimore, 1887-1888 

Charles E. Harris, 1889-1890 

Nelson Gaskins, 1891 

Walden Banks, 1892-93 

Stanley Ruffin, 1894-1895 

J. Henderson Allston, 1894-1895 

CharlesH. Hall, 1895 

[Different images of African American Politicians are seen up stage. As Ruffin does a 
role call of names of late 19th century Massachusetts State Representafives.] 

Five years later 1 served as a State Representative for two years 1882, 1883. 1 followed 
distinguished men such as our first Negro State Representatives Edwin G. Walker, son of 
the famous David Walker, and Charles L. Mitchell, 1866. John J. Smith held office for 
three one year terms, 1 868, 1 869, 1 872. 

[Voices heard offstage.] 



218 



Joshua B. Smith, 1873, 1874 

George W. Lowther, 1878, 1879 

Julius C. Chappelle, 1883 through 1886 

was the longest continuous tenure of any 19th century Negro on Beacon Hill. 

Like myself several Boston City Councilmen moved on the serve as State 
Representatives: William 0. Armstrong, 1889, 1890, Andrew B. Leattimore, 1889, 1890 
and Charles E. Harris, 1 892. The last to serve are Robert T. Teamoh, 1 894 and William 
L. Reed, 1896, 1897. 

[Image of portrait of Judge George L. Ruffin displayed at the Charlestown District Court, 
unveiled in February 1990 is seen up stage. George L. Ruffin exits stage left.] 

NARRATOR: 

George L. Ruffin, first black to earn a law degree from Harvard in 1869, became Boston's 
first black Massachusetts judge when he was appointed in 1883 to the District Court of 
Charlestown where he served until his death in 1886. 

{Enter Voices from various directions converging on center stage forming a crowd, 
pantomiming confronting racial discrimination.] 

In 1895 when the new Democrats redistricted the city black political participation 
declined dramatically. Through redistricting, a new era in Boston politics arose, the 
creation of the Ward Boss. These Ward Bosses amassed such community control through 
favoritism, nepotism, and corruption that in order to achieve anything you had obtain 
their poUtical 'blessing.' The work to rule was, don't fight it out in the courts, talk to and 
gain favor of the one who had the power of political influence. This style of politics was 
not only in the State House, it also existed in each and every neighborhood of Boston, 
and Boston's black community was no different. 

[Enters Archibald Grimke from stage right] 

ARCHIBALD GRIMKE: 

1 Archibald Grimke (1849-1930) was the second Negro to graduate from Harvard Law 
school. While struggling to establish a law practice in Boston I founded the first New 
England Negro newspaper. The Hub, in 1883. This newspaper voiced the concerns of 
Colored people of this region. 

NARRATOR: 

However it was short-lived lasting only until 1886. Archibald Grimke was very active in 
politics though he never held a political office. In 1884 President Cleveland appointed 
him to be consul at Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Starting as an alternate 
delegate for Henry Cabot Lodge at the Republican National Convention in 1884 He 
became a leader in Negro "independent" politics. 



219 




Picture # 20: Archibald Grimke 



220 



ARCHEBALD GRIMKE: 

. "The Republican party is no longer devoted to the colored man." 

[Resident steps away moving down stage from the crowd and speaks.] 

RESIDENT: 

Victorian Boston was a divided metropolis, an old walking city of Negroes and European 
immigrants close to the docks, and an all-white modem city of three-deckers and single 
family homes in Boston's streetcar suburbs. Most Negroes of Boston in the nineteenth 
century lived on what white folks called "Nigger Hill," which developed as servant 
quarters for Colored people employed by wealthy Beacon Hill families., It grew to be the 
largest area of Colored residence because of its proximity to the food markets near 
Faneuil Hall: 

(Voices from the crowd.) 

VOICE # 1: 

Where colored workers carried quarters and halves of meat on their backs... 

VOICE #2: 

And the docks where Negroes were laborers and teamsters. 

NARRATOR: 

Behind the wooden block fronts were black-only courts and alleys, and around the comer 
neighborhoods of Irish, British immigrants, and Yankees. In 1850, Boston was the most 
segregated city in the North, second only to Portland, Maine, in 1860. In the late 
nineteenth century only two other cities, Utica, New York, and Chicago, were as 
segregated as Boston. Most black Bostonians were virtually shut out of the market for 
single-family homes. 

RESIDENT: 

"comparatively few colored men of Boston are the owners of the houses in which they 
live; and as a natural result, after long years of toil, and the expenditure of thousands of 
dollars for house rent, we are not better off in old age than when we commenced to pay 
tribute to a hungry horde of property owners." 

[Resident moves up stage rejoining crowd.} 

NARRATOR: 

Even first generation immigrant groups were more likely to be homeowners than were 
blacks; in 1900 they were four times as likely to be homeowners. Poverty and racial 
discrimination contributed to this difference, yet even blacks that could afford homes 
encountered barriers: It was virtually impossible for a wealthy black to purchase a home 
in Brookline or the Back Bay. 

[Seen is a Real Estate Agent entering from stage right moving to center stage.] 



221 




Picture # 21: The William Monroe Trotter Era 



222 



Real estate agents, who claimed they were respecting the wishes of their clients, argued: 

REAL ESTATE AGENT: 

"Plant one colored family on Commonwealth Avenue and there would be an exodus of 
whites for three blocks each way and a fall of thousands in the value of real estate" 

[Image of William Monroe Trotter is seen up stage.] 

[Entering from stage left is William Monroe Trotter moving down center.] 

WILLIAM MONROE TROTTER: 

I William Monroe Trotter (1872-1934), Businessman, editor and militant civil rights 
leader grew up in Hyde Park, a white suburb of Boston. I entered Harvard College in the 
fall of 1891 and thrived there. Encountering no major discrimination, I worked hard and 
made Phi Beta Kappa in my junior year, the first Negro to be so honored at the College. 
Once out of college, I had no illusions about the personal obstacles presented by my color 
in the business world where I hoped to make my fortune as a real estate agent. 

NARRATOR: 

In Boston, and more obviously in the South, conditions for the race were worsening 
weighing heavily on his already highly sensitized racial conscience. Consequently, to 
become property owners some blacks paid excessive amounts for a home, and others, 
more ingenious, discovered that the: 

[Seen is William Monroe Trotter dealing with a White Realtor.] 

REAL ESTATE AGENT: 

"Only way for a colored man to buy desirable property in Boston is through a third 
party." 

NARRATOR: 

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, discrimination in housing increased as more 
real estate agents received instructions: 

REAL ESTATE AGENT: 

"Under no consideration to be sold to darkies." 

[Real Estate Agent exits stage right leaving Trotter standing with Voices # 1 & 2 looking 
on. They all freeze as the Narrator continues.] 

NARRATOR: 

At the turn of the 20th century many important black organizations were established. The 
national population of African Americans was 8.8 million compared to 76.2 million 
whites. In major northern cities African Americans disenfranchised of their political 
rights began forming their own organization to combat the social and political injustice 



223 



they were experiencing. These organizations were not all focused on political activism, 
many dealt with other social and cultural issues. 

[Voice # / steps out from the crowd and steps down stage and speaks. \ 

VOICE # 1: 

With the Supreme Court ruling in the Plessy Vs Ferguson case in 1 896 which established 
institutionalized segregation as a national doctrine, in which Justice Shaw's ruling in the 
1849 Roberts vs. the city of Boston was used as a legal precedent in this case, and the rise 
in Klu Klux Klan activity, many Negro organizations were established to protest these 
racist laws and the social injustice and blatant murder that many Negro communities 
were subjected to. 

[Voice # I Freezes as Voice # 2 steps down stage and speaks.] 

VOICE # 2: 

The Negro Academy was established in 1 897 to promote Negro achievement in the arts 
& sciences a topic that was of equal importance. Its leadership boasted some of the 
greatest Negro intellectuals of the period, Alexander Cromwell, W. E. B. DuBois, Alain 
Locke, Archibald Grimke and later Schaumburg to name a few. Most important was that 
these organizations united in an effort to protect the Negro community as we prepared 
ourselves for the next century without shackle slavery. 

[Voice # 2 freezes alone as we see enter writing a letter 
President Grover Cleveland who stops and begins reading it] 

GROVER CLEVELAND: 

"My Dear Sir; I thank you for sending me a copy of your address delivered at the Atlanta 
Exposition. I thank you with much enthusiasm for making the address. I have read it 
with intense interest, and I think the Exposition would be fully justified if it did not do 
more than furnish the opportunity for its delivery. Your words cannot fail to delight and 
encourage all who wish well for your race; and if our colored fellow-citizens do not from 
your utterances gather new hope and form new determinations to gain every valuable 
advantage offered them by their citizenship, it will be strange indeed. 

Yours very truly, Grover Cleveland."^^ 

[President Cleveland exits as the Narrator speaks.] 



'^ Letter from President Grover Cleveland, found in Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery, page 166. 



224 



NARRATOR: 

The turn of the century saw the estabHshment of Booker T. Washington as the black 
leader that white society embraced. During the period of 1900 through to the year of his 
death in 1915 he would be the African American leader called to the White House to 
discuss matters of the black community. Often the result of these meetings with this 
secession of presidents gained for him financial support of Tuskegee Institute as well as 
other black colleges. As his political clot grew so did the factions who opposed him. 

VOICE # 1: 

Although W. E. B. DuBois at this time embraced Washington's view and was even 
offered a teaching position at Tuskegee Institute, he soon formed a differing position 
about the methodology of Negro achievement. 

VOICE # 2: 

In his article The Talented Tenth DuBois saw the upper 10% of the Negro intellegencia 
as the group better equipped to lead the community to prosperity. William Monroe 
Trotter differed greatly from Booker T. Washington complacency stance. Trotter 
adamantly opposed Washington's views and by utilizing his own financial resources 
established a weekly newspaper named 'The Guardian' whose major purpose was to 
attach Washington at every opportunity. 

WILLIAM MONROE TROTTER: 

"The growth of caste feeling and caste laws combined with Booker T. Washington's 
betrayal of the colored people pushed me towards a life that I had not anticipated." 

VOICE #1: 

The great decision of his life, to start The Boston Guardian newspaper and plunge into 
racial agitation and organizing against racial injustice, was not made quickly. It crept up 
on him for years and derived in part from fioistration in his real estate business. At the 
turn of the century... 

WILLIAM MONROE TROTTER: 

"Jim Crow customs were spreading even in Boston, historically regarded as the most 
liberal city on the color line. 1 have had my ups and downs in business. But when I 
launched The Guardian and could boast that it enjoyed a circulation of 2,500 after only 
eight months, in contrast to my business troubles, it was an overnight success!" 

[Voice becomes audience participants in a public event at which Booker T. Washington, 
entering stage left, is seen pantomiming addressing the gathering.] 

VOICE #1: 

In Boston 1905 The Negro Business League decided to host as part of one of their public 
events a speech at the Columbus Avenue church by the now famous Booker T. 
Washington. When news of this event reached William Monroe Trotter, a staunch 
opponent of Washington, he decided to use this event as an opportunity to openly 
challenge his view by publicly address him at this event. 



225 



VOICE # 2: 

He decided to draft a list of questions that he would ask Washington at this gathering 
with the hope of publicly discrediting him and his leadership status. Trotter's plan was to 
deliberately heckle Washington by not allowing him to deliver his speech. Trotter 
gathered several of his colleagues including the noted intellectual Archibald Grimke. 
True to form, at the event, at the moment that Washington began his speech, Trotter rose 
from the crowd shouting questions at Washington, demanding his response. 

VOICE #1: 

Members of The Negro Business League attempted to silence him but to no avail. He 
even was physically removed from the church only to return and attempt to continue his 
heckling. Eventually this disturbance got out of hand. 

[During this time all audience is briefly engaged in discussions turned in to mayhem. 
Voices split the audience between those who agree with Accomodationism and those who 
do not.] 

NARRATOR: 

Other parties, perhaps without Trotter's consent, were more disruptive, and Trotter as the 
known leader of the opposition was made the scapegoat. An Eyewitness account states 
that Trotter's sister allegedly stabs a policeman in the hand with her hatpin but is not 
arrested. Archibald Grimke, fearing for the safety of his daughter Angelina, leaves the 
disturbance with her and takes her safely home. And upon returning back to support his 
friend he learns that the Boston police were summoned and Trotter was subsequently 
arrested. 

[Trotter escorted off stage right handcuffed. Washington continues his pantomimed 
speech.] 

VOICE # 2: 

Although the speech continued the desired momentum of Washington's presentation was 
lost. Upset about the disturbance Washington used his legal resources and brought 
charges against William Monroe Trotter. Washington's associates in Boston hired 
lawyers and pursued the case to its conclusion, resulting in Trotter spending a month in 
the Charles Street Jail for disturbing the peace. The incident, later dubbed The Boston 
Riot and eventual court trial was picked up by the black press and became national news, 
news that made it clear to the public that there was other black leadership in the nation 
and they did not have to follow the Booker T. Washington doctrine. 

[Exiting are all voices as the light dims on center stage and rises on the Narrator. Image 
of W. E. B. DuBois is seen up stage.] 



226 



NARRATOR: 

W. E. B. Du Bois who did not agree with the methodology that Trotter used to confront 
Washington views did agree with his motivation for doing it and made this publicly 
known. Du Bois and others were highly upset with Washington in the way he made a 
major spectacle of his suit against Trotter, which many feh could have been resolved in a 
quieter and less public way. Du Bois writing an essay, "Of Booker T Washington and 
Others," publicly stating his disapproval of Washington's response to the incident caused 
Washington to retaliate by using his influence to literally ostracize him, Trotter and 
others from his major political arena. This forced Du Bois to seek out 'free thinking 
individuals' not under Washington's influence. 

[W. E. B. DuBois enters from stage right. Voices enter from various positions on stage 
converging at center stage.\ 

Black leaders nationally rallied together to combat the rising tide of lynching and Black 
economic disenfranchisement. The Niagara Movement, established in 1905 by William 
E. B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter was one of the first organizations, national in 
scope, designed to confront and combat social and political injustice plaguing African 
Americans. From July 11 to 13, 1905 twenty-nine men representing fourteen states 
met at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side of Ontario. This group of men embodied the 
spirit of The Talented Tenth, which Du Bois wrote about in his famous essay. 

W. E. B. DuBOIS: 

"The men of the Niagara Movement ... turn toward the nation and ask in the name often 
million the privilege of a hearing. In the past year the work of the Negro-hater has 
flourished in the land. Step by step, the defenders of the rights of American and the fifty 
or more representatives of stolen votes still sit in the nation's capital. " Against this the 
Niagara Movement eternally protests. We will not be satisfied to take one jot or tittle less 
than our full manhood rights. We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a 
freeborn American, political, civil and social; and until we get these rights we will never 
cease to protest and assail the ears of America. The battle we wage is not for ourselves 
alone but for all true Americans." 

NARRATOR: 

In article in an Atlanta journal 'The Voice of the Negro, in September 1905, Du Bois 
wrote: "There has been a determined effort in this country to stop the free expression of 
opinion among black men." Local and college chapters of the organization were 
established with major meetings held in Oberlin and Boston. The Niagara Movement 
although a noble gesture never gained the national support that it had envisioned. At its 
first national convention at Harper's Ferry, Virginia its membership never amounted to 
more than several dozen members and without financial support it didn't flourish long. 
Booker T. Washington's political machine although tarnished somewhat by the Boston 
Riot incident was still the leading black political leaders the movement felt needed to 
'come around to their way of thinking about how to address the black community's issues 
at hand. At the first convention Du Bois was more adamant about his opposition against 
Washington: 



227 




Picture # 22: W. E. B. DuBois 



228 



W. E. B. DuBOIS: 

"While Booker T. Washington was preaching the virtues of industry and thrift, mobs in 
both the North and the South were burning the homes of Negro workers and terrorizing 
black citizens. 

[Images of Black protest are seen up stage. Voices change posturing, protesting of racial 
violence that has erupted across the country. They gather center stage in a protest crowd. 
Each speaking from the crowd looking in various directions down stage.\ 

VOICE #1: 

There were race riots in Springfield, Ohio, within a few years, and in 1904 a Negro was 
hanged there on a telegraph pole and riddled with bullets. The same year in Statesboro, 
Georgia, two men were lynched, two colored women whipped, a yoimg mother beaten 
and kicked, her husband killed and many Negro homes wrecked. 

VOICE # 2: 

In the Greensburg, Indiana, in 1908 a riot erupted resulting in Negroes being beaten and 
driven out of town. In Springfield, Illinois, that year, in spite of the state militia, a mob 
destroyed Negro homes and businesses, lynched an eighty four year old man within sight 
of the state capitol and strung up an innocent barber after burning his shop. For these 
public crimes, no one was ever punished. In many communities Negroes felt that they 
had no legal protection against violence." 

[Reentering is William Monroe Trotter joining W. E. B. DuBois center stage with Voices 
gathered around them.] 

NARRATOR: 

By 1910 when blacks in the southern states made up 30% of the population and just 2% 
in the northern states the Niagara Movement had reach an end. Although the Niagara 
Movement was short lived, lasting only five years, it was the forerunner of the National 
Association for the Advancement of Colored People, (NAACP), of which W. E. B. Du 
Bois and William Monroe Trotter and Archibald Grimke were key founders. Founded in 
New York mainly to combat the rising tide of lynching and race riots that were erupting 
nationally it would be come the most significant African American rights organization of 
the United States. Many of the Niagara Movement's founders joined several white 
liberals such as Arthur Springam, John Dewey, Jane Addams, Oswald Garrison Villard, 
and the grandson of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to form the NAACP. Later 
adding to its General Committee Clarence Darrow, Mary Church Terrell, Adam Clayton 
Powell Sr., Charles W. Chestnutt, and Ida Wells-Bamett. William Monroe Trotter, one of 
the original founders of the Niagara Movement, and NAACP suspect of white support 
soon declined any association with this new organization. One of the NAACP's first 
major victory was the 1915 success in the Supreme Court case outlawing the 'grandfather 
clause' that restricted black suffrage. 

[Voices speaking from the gathering.] 



229 



NARRATOR: 

"The Guardian" appeared when Booker T. Washington's reputation among African- 
Americans was at its height. Trotter's ardent opposition of Washington via his paper 
revived the old opposition against him, including such leaders as DuBois and the 
resurgence of the protest tradition among Negroes. The Tuskegee Machine and the 
opposition as the two camps came to refer to each other, locked in a mortal struggle that 
did not entirely abate even with Washington's death in 1915. Thus joined, the battle 
became bitter as both sides resorted to personal attacks and underhanded methods. These 
came to light over the so-called Boston Riot of July 1903, the most famous episode of 
Trotter's career, as he served a month in jail for his part in disrupting a speech by 
Washington. This was the benchmark in his life ... the jail term was the final push that 
brought the brilliant talents of DuBois into the radical camp and established, albeit 
temporarily, friendly relations between him and Trotter. The two most able champions of 
the anti-Washington persuasion, although for only a few years, worked together. 

[Trotter and DuBois are seen center stage as DuBois exits stage right leaving Trotter 
alone down stage.] 

VOICE #1: 

Trotter was arrested again in 1915 for his part in trying to have the motion picture "The 
Birth of a Nation" closed in Boston. Set in the Reconstruction era, it showed Negroes 
leaving the fields to sing and dance, forcing their attentions on white women, sitting in 
southern legislatures with their hats on and shoes off, whooping through a bill to permit 
racial intermarriage— in short, making a travesty of Reconstruction until the white man 
returned to power after the withdrawal of the last federal troops 

[Still Image from Birth of A Nation is seen up stage. Trotter is seen viewing this in 
disgust.] 

VOICE #2: 

There was a stirring chase scene: suitably depraved looking man (actually a white actor in 
black face) pursued a white girl across the countryside until, to avoid a fate worse than 
death, the fair maiden threw herself off a cliff In this motion picture the freedmen were 
the villains and the law-abiding riders of the Ku Klux Klan were the heroes. 

[Enters film maker D. W. Griffith from up stage left, and attorney Moorefield Storey from 
up stage right. Still image is still seen up stage. The both travel down center meeting with 
William Monroe Trotter. Other voices enter from stage left and right but stay distant, 
merely observing the three.] 

NARRATOR: 

In April 1915 when news came to Boston that the film would start to run there, Trotter 
cut short a lecture tour and hurried back to Boston. He sent a letter of protest to then 
Mayor James Michael Curley, who set up a hearing with the local branch of the NAACP. 
Trotter applied the kind of pressure that Curley would understand: 



« 230 

[Voices #1 and # 2 from stage left and right respectively, move towards center stage in 
protest.} 

VOICE #1: 

Negroes had supported Curley in the past, but their future votes depended on his handling 
of "The Birth of a Nation." D. W. Griffith testified on behalf of his motion picture and, 
turning to Moore field Storey (an NAACP officer), announced: 

D. W. GRIFFITH: 

I will contribute $10,000 to charity if Storey can point out any incident that was not 
historically true. 

MOORFIELD STOREY: 

Was it true that a Negro lieutenant had locked a white girl in his room and demanded that 
she marry him? 

NARRATOR: 

The hearing ended with the protesters scoring most of the points. 

D. W. GRIFFITH: 

It was a pleasure to meet you (extending his hand). 

MOORFIELD STOREY: 

No sir (drawing his hand back). It was not a pleasure. 

[Exit Griffith up stage left and Storey up stage right. Leaving Trotter center stage with 
Voice # 1 to his left and Voice # 2 to his right. Enters from down right is a Theatre 
Manager who remains down right with A eyes of the group fixated on him pantomiming 
greeting patrons entering the theatre as the Narrator speaks.] 

NARRATOR: 

Mayor Curley decided that the film could be shown if a few parts were cut out. The 
Tremont Theater made the changes and launched the film on schedule. During the next 
week. Trotter, William Lewis, and others made fiirther appeals to Curley and Governor 
David Walsh, both of whom insisted that they could do nothing. 

[Trotter and the Voices-turn protesters move down stage right towards the Theatre 
Manager. Light dims on Narrator.] 

VOICE #1: 

The situation exploded Saturday April 15, 1915, on opening night. Acting on rumors of a 
Negro plot to pack the house, seize and destroy the film, Tremont Theater management 
planted scores of plainclothes policemen on duty in the theater. 

VOICE #2: 

At about 7:30 Trotter led a group of Negroes into the lobby and tried to buy tickets. 
Abruptly the ticket windows slammed shut. {The Manager stops them from entering.) 



231 



MANAGEMENT: 

The performance is sold out. 

WILLIAM MONROE TROTTER: 

Not true! (Eyeing an imaginary white man purchasing a ticket and entering the 
theater. yihsii white man there just purchased three tickets. I demand to be sold a ticket! 

MANAGEMENT: 

We are sold out I say! You and your kind, group must leave the premises. 

VOICE # I: 

Furious, Trotter shouted discrimination. The police moved in. One white plainclothes 
man struck Trotter. Trotter is knocked down to the ground. The lobby was filled with 
police with clubs. Trotter and ten others were arrested. 

[Trotter gets up and is arrested with the others and is lead offstage left While Trotter is 
being escorted off] 

VOICE # 2: 

The film ran, punctuated by occasional jeers from the audience. 

[Viewed is a film clip from Birth Of A Nation as Voice # 1 from stage right and looking 
up viewing the film clip turns down stage to the audience and speaks. Voice # 2 from 
stage left jeering at the images up stage. As Voice # I speaks he throws an object at the 
screen and runs down stage to down right and stops.] 

VOICE# 1: 

At the point when the fair maiden was about to leap to her death a Negro stood in the 
audience and as a newspaper account stated, "spattered a very ancient egg by a will- 
directed shot over the exact middle of the white screen." 

NARRATOR: 

{Light rises on Narrator) Six years later when the film was scheduled for a second run 
showing at the Schubert Theatre, William Monroe Trotter and the Boston Chapter of the 
NAACP protested. The forced the banning of the film's second Boston showing when 
some 600 members of the black community attended the hearing on the film. 

[Light fades to black on Narrator as Voice #1 steps down stage and joins Voice #2 as 
they sing.] 



232 




Picture # 23: The Birth Of A Nation 



233 



CONGREGATION: 

Lift every Voice and sing. 

Till earth and heaven ring 
Ring with the harmonies of liberty; 

Let our rejoicing rise High 

as the list'ing skies 

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea 

Sing a song fiill of the faith that the dark past has taught us 

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us; 

Facing the rising sun Of our new day begun 

Let us march on till victory is won. 

(Center stage fades to black)^^ 

(END OF ACT THREE, SCENE ONE) 



'' First Verse of "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing" by James and Rosamond Jolinson 



234 



ACT THREE, SCENE TWO: 

[Act Three Scene Two begin with the light rising on the Narrator up stage at the podium. 
Voices enter in darkness from various directions converging once again at center stage. 
Center stage slowly rises as we see a group of protesting Boston citizens experiencing 
segregation.} 

NARRATOR: 

Segregated housing patterns in Boston inevitably contributed to racially divided schools. 
Not de jure segregation but de facto segregation. One black state Normal School graduate 
who applied for a position was told: 

SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBER: 

"Go down South among your own people." 

NARRATOR: 

Throughout the nineteenth century the Boston School Committee hired one full-time 
black teacher, the daughter of a prominent black abolitionist, one black substitute teacher, 
and three black instructors for the adult evening school. 

[Enters State Superintendent from up right traveling down center speaking to the group. 
Pictured up stage are several images of segregated Black school classrooms.] 

A STATE SUPERINTENDENT WRITES: 

There has never been any serious attempt in this State to offer adequate educational 
facilities for the colored race. The average length of the term for the State is only four 
months; practically all of the schools are taught in dilapidated churches, which of course, 
are not equipped with suitable desks, blackboards, and the other essentials of a school; 
practically the teachers are incompetent, possessing little or no education and having 
had no professional training whatever, except a few weeks obtained in the summer 
schools.; the schools are generally overcrowded, some of them having as many as 100 
students to a teacher; no attempt is made to do more than teach the children to read, write, 
and figure, and these subjects are learned very imperfectly. 

[Images change to that of a poor neighborhood in Boston changing to that of sick people 
in hospitals, sanatoriums up stage as State Superintendent exits up right.] 

NARRATOR: 

Black neighborhoods were also cesspools of disease for those living in such dense areas. 
Families drew their water from outside pumps, which were located near outdoor water 
closets. Fecal matter often contaminated the water supply and helped to spread disease. 
The poor health of Boston blacks was even more glaringly deficient in a city with such 
excellent hospitals. The black population in the West End lived within walking distance 
of six hospitals and the South End community was next to four hospitals, yet there were 
no black infants bom in the Lying-in hospital for Women between 1865 and 1900 and 



235 



very few patients used Massachusetts General Hospital or New England Hospital for 
Women. 

[Images up stage change to that of Black nurses.] 

VOICE #1: 

Negro mothers probably preferred colored midwives in giving birth. 

NARRATOR: 

But there were still enough miscarriages and emergencies to expect better city aid. The 
usual explanation for black migration to the North is a recitation of push and pull factors: 

VOICE #1: 

shortages of labor in the North during World Wars I and II, 

VOICE #2: 

The curtailment of foreign immigration to northern cities 'round the time of World War I, 

VOICE #3: 

The devastation of the cotton plants by floods and boll weevils. 

VOICE #4: 

The widespread adoption of mechanical cotton pickers, and the terror of the lynch mob. 



[Enters Moorefield Storey from up right moves down center joining the protesters.} 

MOORFIELD STOREY: 

More dangerous and wicked than neglect is the barbarous cruelty of lynching. I need not 
revive the figures of the past. Since the United States has entered the war a careful 
investigation shows that 219 Negro men, women, and children have been killed and 
lynched by mobs in addition to two white men, one of these being Robert Prager. 

VOICE #1: 

4 Negroes were lynched in Alabama, 2 in Arkansas, I in Florida 

VOICE #2: 

7 in Georgia, 1 in Kentucky, 1 1 in Louisiana, 3 in Mississippi, 

VOICE #1: 

1 in North Carolina, 1 in Oklahoma, 2 in South Carolina, 5 in Tennessee, 9 in Texas, 

VOICE #2: 

3 in Virginia, 1 in West Virginia, and I in Wyoming. 



236 



MOORFIELD STOREY: 

In addition to these cases 175 men, women, and children were tortured, burned and killed 
at East St. Louis in July, 1917, and three Negroes were killed by a mob in Chester, 
Pennsylvania, in September 1917. Since 1885 between 3,000 and 4,000 cases of lynching 
have been reported, and in only three instances does investigation show that any lyncher 
was punished. In two of these cases the victim of the mob was white. In the third case, 
those of a particularly atrocious murder of a Tennessee farmer and his two daughters, the 
lynchers were two young, friendless white boys. 

NARRATOR: 

Between 1917 and 1925 is the period that the worse race riots occurred in the U.S. These 
riots often would end with the brutal lynching of a black citizen. During this period the 
black press continued its efforts in covering these stories in an effort to inform not only 
the black community of these atrocities but the nation as well. 

[Reporter steps out from group and speaks to the audience. ^ 

REPORTER: 

News Flash! Sergeant William E. Carter (1858-1918), served in the Spanish -American 
War, the Massachusetts National Guard from 1899 to 1917, and in World War 1, where 
he was killed in action in October 1918. He will be missed by family and friends. 

VOICE #1: 

"During World War I, stories of race riots and lynching filled the front pages, rivaling 
only the war news in death and violence. In July 1917, a massacre occurred in East St. 
Louis, Illinois, in which many Negroes were burned alive in their homes, 6,000 driven 
from the city and $400,000 worth of property destroyed. In Elaine, Arkansas, in 1919, ten 
white persons and eleven Negroes were killed and dozens were injured." 

VOICE # 2: 

In Topeka, Kansas one of the worse race riots occurred it is estimated that over a 
thousand Negroes lost their lives. During this riot it was reported by eyewitnesses that 
dynamite was dropped from airplanes totally destroying the black section known as Black 
Wall Street. 

[Voice # 2 steps out and moves down stage center from the group stop and recites From 
Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay his poem If We Must Die. Light centers on him and 
fades to dim on everyone including the Narrator leaving them in a black silhouette.] 

'It We Must Die" 

If we must die, let it not be like hogs 

Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot. 

While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, 

Making their mock at our accursed lot. 

If we must die, let us nobly die, 



237 



In vain; then even the monsters we defy 

Shall be constrained to honor us though dead! 

kinsmen! We must meet the common foe! 

Though far outnumbered let us show us brave, 

And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow! 

What though before us lie the open grave? 

Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack, 

Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!'* 

(Light rises on Narrator and fades to black on Voice #2.) 

NARRATOR: 

If We Must Die by Jamaican bom Claude McKay and published in Harlem Shadows in 
1922 was the first literary achievement that signaled the beginning of the New Negro 
Movement also known as The Harlem Renaissance period. During this period African 
American intellectuals and artist were jointly engaged in redefining their cultural heritage 
and identity. Claude McKay brought nafional attention to the lynching epidemic that the 
black community especially in the south was continually plagued with. W. E. B. DuBois 
disturbed after witnessing on display in a white-owned business establishment's 
storefront window in Atlanta the charred remains of an unfortunate black man, decided 
that his life's work must be focused on ending this type of tyraimy in the United States. 

[Light dims on Narrator as he travels down to center stage. Seen up stage is an image of 
a silent protest parade up Fifth Avenue in New York City. Heard is the voice of the 
Narrator.] 

There was a silent protest parade up Fifth Avenue in New York City on July 18, 1917. 

{The Narrator joins a group of three protesters A in a straight line silhouetted in black by 
overhead lights resulting in the Narrator being the only visible person on stage.] 

Staged by the NAACP, the march was a demonstration against violence against blacks in 
the United States. The migrafion of blacks out of the south and the competition for jobs in 
the North with white workers led to ever growing racial unrest during the latter year of 
this decade, including thirty eight lynching in 1917 and a riot in East St. Louis, 1918 that 
cost at least forty lives. 

[Image up stage changes to image of the 369th United States Infantry and simidtaneously 
the frontal light rises on group at center stage with the Narrator. Seen is a group of three 
World War I soldiers standing in a row at attention center stage facing the audience. A 
citizen is seen entering from down right addressing the audience.] 



First published in Harlem Shadows his poem If We Must Die by Claude McKay. 



238 




Picture 24: If We Must Die! 



239 



VOICE 1: 

Here are some of the men of the 369th United States Infantry who just returned home 
after the Great War. Did you know that the 369th served in the trenches longer than any 
other American outfit and had the distinction of never having a single man captured, or 
lost a trench or a foot of ground? 

[Soldier # 1 stepping forward from the group speaks.\ 

SOLDIER #1: 

171 officers and men of the 369th were awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French 
government for our accomplishments on the battlefield. 

[Soldier # 2 stepping from the group joins Soldier # 1 and speaks.] 

SOLDIER #2: 

There was a parade for us up Fifth Avenue in New York City on February 18, 1919. 

[Image up stage changes to parade for the 369th United States Infantry as Soldier # 3 
steps down joining the other two soldiers and speaks.] 

SOLDIER # 3: 

They say that we fought with such gallantry during World War I that the Germans called 
us the "Hell Fighters." 

[Narrator speaks from his position.] 

NARRATOR: 

Although the black soldier again proved their bravery and patriotism, returned home to 
find an America that had changed very little. 

[Light fades to black on Narrator who travels back up stage to the podium. From their 
current position the Three Soldiers reciting an excerpt from the NAACP's Crisis 
Magazine writing by W. E. B. DuBois speak.] 

SOLDER #1: 

[From the Crisis, 1919] 
We are returning from war! ... Tens of thousands of us were drafted into a great struggle. 
We fought gladly and to the last drop of blood; for America and her highest ideals, we 
fought. For the America that represents and gloats in lynching, disenfranchisement, 
brutality and devilish insult - for this, we were forced by vindictive fate to fight. 

SOLDER #2: 

But today we return! We return from slavery of the uniform, which the world's madness 
demanded us to don to the freedom of civil grab. We stand again to look America 
squarely in the face and call a spade a spade. We sing: This country of ours, despite all its 
better souls has done and dreamed, is yet a shameful land. 



240 



SOLDER #3: 

It lynches. And lynching is barbarism of a degree of contemptible nastiness unparalleled 
in human history. Yet for fifty years America has lynched two Negroes a week, and has 
kept this up right through the war. 

[Light fades to black on the three soldiers with the light remaining on one Protester stage 
right who steps down stage and begins to sing joined in by those in silhouette.'] 

CONGREGATION: 

Stoney the road we trod 

Bitter the chast'ing rod 

Felt in the days when hope unborn had died; 

Yet with a steady beat, 

Have not our weary feet. 

Come to the place for which our people sighed? 

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered' 

We have come, treading our path thro' the blood of the slaughtered; 

Out from the gloomy past, 

Till now we stand at last 

70 

Where the bright gleam of our bright star is cast. 
(Lights fade to black.) 
(END OF ACT THREE, SCENE TWO) 



' Second verse o^ Lift Ev 'ry Voice And Sing by James and Rosamond Johnson 



241 




Picture # 25: Early 20"" Century Black Boston Community 



242 



ACT THREE, SCENE THREE: 

[Act Three, Scene Three begins with Narrator again at podium with Voices # I & 2 left 
and right of a Reporter center stage seen reading a newspaper. The light rises on center 
stage. As the scene begins Reporter travels from up stage left down to center stage 
carrying a suitcase as Voice # I begins.] 

VOICE #1: 

The Negro came to Boston because they had heard that jobs were plentiful, and they 
chose Boston because family or friends lived there. 

[Images of early 20th century African Americans are seen up stage. Reporter pauses 
takes out of his suit jacket pocket a piece of paper unfolds and reads it. Looking around 
at signs he picks up his suitcase and proceeds down right periodically glancing down at 
the paper and walking cautiously fast. He stops down right, props his suitcase up on its 
side and sits.] 

VOICE #2: 

{Speaking to Voice # 7) When Tonk and Pearl got married and took an apartment near the 
Carryout, Pearl's brother, Boley, moved in with them. Later, Pearl's nephew, J. R., came 
up from their hometown in North Carolina and he, too, moved in with them. J. R. joined 
Tonk and Boley on the street comer and when Earl told Tonk of some job openings 
where he worked, Tonk took J.R. with him. These three then, were kinsmen, shared the 
same residence, hung out together on the street comer, and two of them- for a time at 
least- were co-workers 

NARRATOR: 

Certain prejudice towards migrants existed, as the reaction to a sensational Herald 
newspaper report illustrates. 

[Images up stage change to various pictures of spiritual leaders in the Black community 
of this period. Reporter rises and seeing someone travel across exiting stage left. All 
voices converge on to center stage and pantomime to the following news report.] 

REPORTER: 

News Flash! A white reporter investigating the existence of voodoo in Boston, after 
several unsuccessful inquiries, was led to a South End tenement where he found 20 
Negroes from the West Indies, Virginia, and Maryland, ranging in ages from 10 to 60, 
and a voodoo priest and priestess. He attended two different ceremonies and on this third 
visit, he asked the priest to give some herb medicine for his sore knee. 



VOICE # 1: 

At the gathering the priestess, encircled by her guests, stood in the center of the room, 
adorned with herbs, a piece of old iron, a handful of horsehair which she raised above her 
head as she uttered her prayer: 



243 



VOICE # 2 

She took a dead snake out of a bottle, raised it above her right hand, and sang a song. 
Then she and the priest sat silently on a throne, a sturdy plank suspended between two 
chairs, while the group seated in a circle, prayed, 

[Enters from stage down left is a Voodoo Priest chanting and creating a rhythmic sound 
with a shakeray. All Voices, as if in a trance, move rhythmically to his tune and mimic his 
chanting. As the reporter observes taking notes.] 

GROUP: 

thou God VOODOO, take all-evil away. thou God VOODOO, keep us from all 
charms and spells. 

REPORTER: 

After this prayer each of the participants explained why spells had been cast on them. 
Accompanied by Uncle Joe on the fiddle, the participants danced and removed one article 
of clothing at a time. Spirited dancing continued late in the evening - shocked I withdrew 
at one in the morning. 

[Reporter and Priest exit stage left and right. \ 

NARRATOR: 

Nothing illustrates better the division between migrant blacks and cosmopolitan blacks 
than the explosive reaction to the Herald article. At first black leaders, who charged white 
newspapers with fabrication, denied that voodoo existed, but later the National League of 
Boston, a black civil rights organization, was forced to admit the existence of voodoo but 
tried to minimize its scope. An investigative committee appointed by the League reported 
that they found: 

VOICE # 1: 

"Something approaching this practice in a house on Primus Avenue in the West End ... 
but the newspaper overestimated the extent of the practice. We the National League of 
Boston have passed a resolution condemning voodoo as a degrading and disreputable 
superstition and chastise its adherents as foolish, low, and ignorant persons. 

[Enters Voices # 2 from stage left and right they join Voices # 1, center stage as the 
Narrator continues.] 

NARRATOR: 
This incident can be limited to the National League's opinions on voodoo, but it actually 
expresses widespread embarrassment felt by Black Bostonians about the practices of 
these newcomers. 

[Image up stage appears of a local Black church.} 



244 



VOICE # 2: 

Colored migrants established a formal church in the fall of 1871 Ebenezer Baptist. 
Originated in a prayer meeting in 1868 held in the kitchen of Martha Jones, a South End 
resident of Ottawa Court, she converted one of the court's apartments into a chapel for 
services three nights a week. Later another room was added. We come together to sing 
the praises to the Lord, and to Jesus Christ, his son, who came to do us good and to save 
us, and then we feel so thankful, that we sing the tunes pretty loud, and the glory to God 
comes out very fiill and strong. 

VOICE #1: 

The songs and shouts came out so loud that urbanized Negroes, considerably offended, 
referred to the church as "the Jay Bird Tabernacle." When the congregation got to large 
for there current quarters Rev. George Lorimer, a pastor of a white Baptist church helped 
them find larger quarters in the South End. When the congregation again outgrew its 
building, they made a down payment of $5,000 on the purchase of a large brick edifice, 
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, in the South End. Ebenezer Baptist had developed in a 
few years from a prayer meeting into a major South End religious institufion. 

VOICE # 2: 
Ebenezer Baptist was the only entirely migrant colored church in Boston. Most southern 
migrants joined already established Negro churches. No doubt they found the religious 
ritual somewhat subdued, but the majority of them appear to have accepted northern-style 
Negro religion. Even in the churches of the Negro elite, such as the Charles St. A.M.E. 
Methodist and the Twelfth Baptist, Negroes bom in the South formed the majority of the 
membership. 

NARRATOR: 

Those migrants who settled in Boston also joined Negro lodges, the Odd Fellows, 
Masons, Daughters of Zion, and so forth. Negro lodges which first began when Prince 
Hall established the first organization of Colored Masons back in 1787. The migrant 
found the church and affiliated with already established black churches and lodges, a 
halfway solution that was something less than a complete institutional life. 

[Image up stage changes to Charles Manuel "Daddy" Grace as Voice converge center 
stage.] 

REPORTER: 

News Flash! Charles Manuel Grace (1881-1960) came to New Bedford from the Cape 
Verdean Island of Braava in 1903. He organized and houses first House of Prayer for All 
People in a former Jewish synagogue at 51 Howland Street, South End in 1943. 

VOICE #1: 

As a traveling evangelist he established Houses of Prayer across the country. A self- 
styled bishop, he attracted thousands of converts to his House of Prayer. "Daddy Grace" 
as he was called by his parishioners, was a striking personality, who rode in fancy 



245 



Cadillacs, dressed in wide-brimmed hats and dapper suits, and wore long hair and long 
polished fingernails. 

VOICE # 2: 

With eloquent oratory and a sound knowledge of the Holy Scriptures he ministered to the 
emotional, economical and social needs of his congregations. In the late 1930's he moved 
his church headquarters to Harlem, New York city. His House of Prayer constructed on 
419 Kempton Street in New Bedford in 1951, and painted red, white and blue, still stands 
today. It is estimated that he had 3 Million followers and 350 congregations. 

[Voices converge at center stage miming a church prayer ritual as Reporter enters from 
stage left.] 

REPORTER: 

News Flash! James Cleveland "Jesse Owens turned Adolph Hitler's planned exhibition of 
the superiority of his Aryan "master race" in the 1936 Olympics at Berlin into a sham by 
winning four gold metals, setting two world records in the process. Hitler refused to 
present him with the victory medals giving even greater publicity to Owens 's 
accomplishments. 

[Reporter travels off stage right passing and greeting Julius C. Chappelle as he enters 
from stage right. All Voices change their positions at center stage giving way to 
Chappelle and encircling him upstage. ] 

JULIUS C. CHAPPELLE: 

I Julius C. Chappelle, combining my interests in civil rights legislation and protest 
against Jim Crow in the South was deeply concern with the need for economic reform 

VOICE #1: 

Bom in South Carolina, he migrated to Boston as a teenager in 1870, began work as a 
barber, and went to school at night to earn his high school diploma. He was elected to the 
Republican State Central Committee, the Boston City Council, and the state legislature. 
Chappelle urged the Boston branch of the National League to establish an employment 
bureau for Colored women. 

JULIUS C. CHAPPELLE: 

As a state legislature I introduce dozens of bills striking at the economic disabilities faced 
by the Negro of Massachusetts. I sponsored bills providing free textbooks in the public 
schools, ending the poll tax for voters, regulating child and female labor, funding free 
evening high schools in major Massachusetts cities, providing standards for the quantities 
for coal sold in baskets, and even a bill regulating pawn brokers. 

[Chappelle and all Voices in pantomime transverse the stage in random pairs as if 
walking the streets of affluent Boston. Walking with an apparent air about them.] 



246 



NARRATOR: 

The nineteenth century city was a " far more integrated place than its counterpart of the 
twentieth century. Residents lived within walking distance of their work, making 
distinctions between residential area and business districts less significant than they are in 
today's city. Boston was a commercial city in the mid-nineteenth century and has 
remained that way since... 

[Voice # / stepping out towards down stage from the group speaks changing her 
demeanor. Voice #2 addresses the audience with contempt for the Negro as the other 
Voices parade past her and Chappelle exits stage right.] 

VOICE #2: 

The Negro has little home conscience or love of home, no local attachments of the better 
sort.... He has no pride of ancestry, and he is not influenced by the lives of great men.... 
He has little conception of the meaning of virtue, truth, honor, manhood, and integrity.... 
He does not know the value of his word or the meaning of the words in general.... They 
sneer at the idea of work.... Their moral natures are miserably perverted. Such a statement 
should not be interpreted as abusing the Negro; for, considering the putrid moral air he 
breathes ... there could be no other outcome.... 

{Enters Voice # / mimicking an extremely affluent Black Brahmin enters donning top hat 
and cane from stage right joining the other Voices center stage.} 

NARRATOR: 

The black Brahmins copied their style of life from white society. 

VOICE #1: 

We spent Friday afternoons at the Symphony, vacationed at Newport or on Cape Cod, 
and lived in Beacon Hill apartments or in South End brick homes filled with books, 
potted palms, dull colored plants near the window and antique furniture. Our children 
learned the social graces at Mr. Papanti's dancing school and studied for degrees at 
Wellesley or Harvard. A few Negro families even had white servants. 

NARRATOR: 

One member of the elite recalled her French governess and a white coachman, Barnard. 

[Voice #2 stepping out down stage from the group speaks.] 

VOICE #2: 

In fact, white tutors were preferred because many in the Negro elite they believed that 
more gentility and culture would come from exposure to us whites. 

[Enters from stage right is Dorothy West who travels across to center stage, down stage 
from the Voices and speaks.] 



247 




Picture #26: The living Is Easy 



248 



DOROTHY WEST: 

My name is Dorothy West's, author of "The Living Is Easy (Boston 1948), a melodrama 
set in Boston around World War I. The heroine is a young, light-skirmed woman Cleo 
Judson married to a middle-caged businessman (the "Black Banana King"), who 
constantly meddles in the affairs of her friends and relatives. Her husband eventually 
goes bankrupt and must leave her to start another business in New York City. ^° 

NARRATOR: 

The minor characters in the book were thinly disguised sketches of Black Brahmins. Mr. 
Birmey, a wealthy tailor who dressed as a gentleman and went out without his hat, stick, 
and gloves, was easily recognizable as J. H. Lewis. His son, Simeon, the Harvard 
graduate who publishes the militant newspaper. The Clarion, is obviously meant to be 
William Monroe Trotter. The Brahmins seem uncomfortable with the poor of their -race. 
One of them resettles in Cambridge after other black families move into his Hyde Park 
neighborhood. Some Brahmins had married Irish women of humble origins, but they 
refused to mention the wife's former social status. Shouting Baptists embarrassed the 
elite, mostly Episcopalians. Aside from these brief glimpses into Brahmin snobbishness, 
West's major point is that each of these Brahmin families suffers some fatal tragedy 
because their expensive tastes outrun their meager incomes. 

[Voice # 1 steps down stage left from the group and addresses the audience.] 

VOICE #1: 

Conditions on the North Slope of Beacon Hill [considered the West End at the time] 
became overcrowded, and the city's land mass was expanding due to a major urban 
project. Over a thirty-year period by the leveling of Breeds Hill some of Beacon Hill and 
the transportation of land from Needham to fill in the marshy area of Back Bay, the 
Fenway, and coastal areas of the Charles River [the West End, East Boston, and the 
Boston Waterfront] Boston added roughly 50 percent to its central landmass making new 
land available. This new land meant new housing. By 1895 Negroes began to relocate to 
the South End: 

[Voice # 2 steps down stage right from the group and addresses the audience.] 

VOICE # 2: 

between Washington Street and Columbus Avenue, taking up residence in the old 
brownstone apartments that had been originally intended for well-to-do whites. In the 
early 1900's they spread along Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street into the upper part 
of the South End, settling along Northampton and Lenox Streets; and by the 1930's with 
their population having passed the 20,000 mark, they extended the black community of 
the city down to Dudley Street in lower Roxbury... It was here in the South End-Lower 
Roxbury area that the black community developed its own distinctive poliUcal 



'° From The Living Is Easy by Dorothy West published in 1940 one of only a few novels published by 
African American women. West wrote short stories and essays during the Harlem Renaissance period. 
She and Zora Neal Hurston are the most known Black women writers of that era. 



249 



organization by the start of the 20th century, as a handfixl of local political leaders traded 
power for patronage much as the Irish ward bosses had done decades earlier. 

[Voice # I steps down stage and addresses the audience.] 

VOICE # 1: 

For most of the 19th century the Colored population of Boston lived in the West End 
along the north slope of Beacon Hill and along Cambridge Street. The size of this 
population stabilized between 1,800 and 2,000. For the most part this was an isolated, 
pocketed community that seldom made major inroads into mainstream Boston. 

[As Voice #3 continues Voice # 4 and now Reporter travel dovra stage. Reporter is seen 
with a pad of paper and pen taking notes as he travels across the stage observing the 
actions of the Voices.] 

When the community grew and splintered off so did the black church. By 19 10 most 
Negroes left Beacon Hill, which gave way for a new immigrant group of Eastern 
European Jews. The African Meeting house was sold to a Jewish congregation. For over 
seventy year the once African Meeting House was a Jewish Synagogue (until its purchase 
in the mid-seventies by the Museum of Afro- American History). 

[Voice # 2 moving along side Voice # 1 continuing Voice #1 's sentiments speaks.] 

VOICE #1: 

The Charles Street Meeting House was sold and the congregation relocated to Warren 
Street but retained the name Charles Street in its church's name. Twentieth Baptist moved 
from Columbus Avenue to Warren Street, near the Dudley Square area and other area 
churches that trace their legacy back to the African Meeting house sprung up in every 
sector of the Negro community. Prior to World War 1 1 the Boston's Negro community 
was primarily centered in the South End, Lower Roxbury area. Since no new construction 
took place in the Roxbury area after 1920, the overcrowded Negro population was 
literally bulging at the seams. 

[Stage light dims as all Voices change their positions. Seen up stage are images of urban 
night fife. Heard off- stage is faint jazz music that rises slowly and becomes background 
music for the community resident 's comments. Light rises slightly on Narrator as he 
speaks.] 

NARRATOR: 

Here in the South End the nightlife attracted Blacks from all around. Some clubs catered 
to an all Black clientele of working-class Blacks while other spots thrived to follow a 
more up-scale tradition. 

[Light fades slightly on Narrator as Residents are seen dressed in their finery transverse 
the streets of Boston, checking out Black Boston's night life. Resident # I speaks 
responding to observations made of the other Residents mimed activity.] 



250 



RESIDENT #1: 

Outside of The Hi-Hat Club a doorman wearing a high top hat, cape and caring a cane 
would greet patrons. What a sight! He made you feel very special, regal ... yeah like 
royalty. When you would enter the first floor eatery served some of the most mouth- 
watering barbecue in Boston. Upstairs was the lounge where the cool cat would mingle 
sipping cool drinks and listening to hot jazz. Hey people like the Oscar Peterson Trio, 
Slam Steward and Jimmy Rogers were frequent acts appearing there. 

[Resident # 2 steps out down stage and speaks as Resident # I Joins in the action of the 
other Voices.} 

RESIDENT # 2: 

Now The Pioneer Club was the spot! It was an after hours semi-private club located in a 
three-story brick row house at the end of a short alley off Tremont Street. A retreat for 
people who just wanted to relax and valued their privacy. People would start showing up 
at around 1 1 PM for the Jazz greats like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie; Sony Stitt who 
were appearing in town would stop by after their last set. They would drop in and often 
play 'til the we-hours in the 'mom. 

[Resident # 3 steps out down stage and speaks as Resident #2 rejoins the other Voices.] 

RESIDENT # 3: 

Wally's Paradise, located on Massachusetts Avenue was the Colored community's 
landmark jazz club. This small neighborhood jazz bar known for being the spot for up- 
and-coming musicians also saw the likes of Oscar Peterson, Charlie Parker, and Coleman 
Hawkins perform there. 

[Resident # 4 steps down stage and speaks, as Resident # 2 rejoins the other voices.} 

RESIDENT # 4: 

Note that the Pioneer Club was also were many Negro political campaigns were 
organized. 

[Resident #4 rejoins the rest of the Voices as the Reporter travels quickly to center stage 
and speaks as an image of Boston a neighborhood map is seen.} 

NEWS REPORTER: 

News Flash! Allen Crite noted, distinguished Negro artist whose neighborhood scenes 
capture the spirit of the Colored communities of the South End and Lower Roxbury of 
Boston begins his career during this period. 

[Seen up stage is an image of an earlier Allen Crite painting of Roxbury. Allen Crite 
represented by Voice # 4 speaks from up center stage.} 



251 



ALLEN CRITE: 

"Present people in an ordinary light, persons enjoying the usual pleasures of life with its 
mixtures of both sorrow and joys" 

[Reporter continues as residents change from nightlife scene 
to daily life scene responding to the reports of the Reporter.] 

NEWS REPORTER: 

Ralf Coleman, noted Negro playwright, director, producer, and theatre manager, becomes 
the Director of the Negro Federal Theatre of Massachusetts. He holds this position from 
1934 to 1939. Also he is credited with establishing The Negro Repertory Theatre of 
Boston the first Negro Theatre Company of Boston of which he held the position of 
Executive Director. 

[Light rises slightly on Narrator as he begins to speak.] 

NARRATOR: 

During this period there was tremendous social activity with in the black community. 
Many service and social organizations were active and mobilizing the black community 
to address various issues. 

[Street scene of daily life shifts into public scene of protest.] 

RESIDENT #1: 

For example, numerous Colored female students who could not obtain dormitory housing 
at their respective colleges were afforded residence at 558 Massachusetts Avenue the 
home of The League of Women for Community Service, Inc. 

[Seen are Voice #3 & Voice #4 traveling across center stage as Corretta & Martin 
Luther King Jr.] 

NARRATOR: 

Corretta Scott King was courted by Martin Luther King, Jr. who was a student at Boston 
University and who also at the time, while living there on Massachusetts Avenue. 



RESIDENT # 2: 
Their facility served as a regular meeting place for a variety of clubs and civic and social 
groups in the community such as the South Wend Historical Society and the Boston 
Negro Art Association. 

[Seen up stage are various images of Black World War H soldiers. Reporter is still 
present on stage taking notes of his observations continues twisting on his pad as all 
Voices shift from scene of protest to scene of patriotism, as the Narrator speaks.] 



252 



NARRATOR: 

During the World War 1 1 black skilled laborers from various parts of the United States 
came to New England to work in the factors, and in shipbuilding as part of the war effort. 
During this time the black population of Boston doubled in size in one decade. The black 
population rose from 23,000 in 1940 to over 40,000 in 1950. 



REPORTER: 

{Reporter traveling quickly to center stage) News Flash! William Edward Burghardt Du 
Bois co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 
broke with the organization in 1934 and returned to teaching. After World War II he 
devoted his energy to world peace, but was harassed by the government because of his 
communist connections. 

{Narrator continues as all Voices change from their previous to that of a marching 
platoon. They march across the center and then up stage as the narrator speaks.] 

NARRATOR: 

Though African-Americans had fought in every American war since the Revolution, they 
did so in circumstances far different from whites. Depending on the politics of the time 
and the exigencies of military necessity, they found themselves constantly subject to the 
varying policies of those who ultimately did not object to black soldiers putting 
themselves in front of a bullet, but who seemed unable to sanction their role with the 
force of policy or law. 

[Stepping down stage in military style Voice #1 speaks as the 
other continues to march in stationary formation.] 

VOICE #1: 

There were Negro artillery units, which saw action in Europe during World War II. 
Although, Negroes were still segregated, they served in a great variety of capacities both 
on the battlefields and behind the lines. Like Sgt. Conway Waddy of Dickinson, Tex. 
loading the machine gun of a Mustang fighter at a base in Italy. 

[A Voice # 2 joining Voice # 1 step down stage also in military style and speaks.] 

VOICE #2: 

...And members of a segregated army artillery unit from the 349th Field Artillery 
Regiment. 



[Traveling across stage, this time snapping pictures with a 
camera stops and addresses the audience^ 



253 




Picture # 27: Black in World War II 



254 



REPORTER: 

New Flash! Royal Boiling, Sr. a local hero was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat 
Infantry Badge, four battle stars, and the third highest military award for valor, the Silver 
Star, for his outstanding service during the 92nd Infantry Division's campaign in Italy 
during World War II. 

[Voice # I & Voice # 2 together march down stage. They all fall in to a straight-line 
formation across center stage. Reporter fades back as if to tack a group shot from his 
camera as Voice # I speaks. ^ 

VOICE #1: 

Benjamin Oliver Davis (1877-1970) had a military career that included three wars. Bom 
in Washington, D.C., Davis attended Howard University but left in 1898 to fight in the 
Spanish-American War. He continued in the army after the war, seeing action in the 
Philippines and then in Liberia. He taught military science at Wilberforce University and 
at Tuskegee Institute. In 1940, he was promoted to brigadier general, the first black man 
to become a general in the U. S. Army. 



VOICE #2: 

{Voice # 4 speaks from is current position.) Benjamin 0. Davis Jr. his son followed in his 
father's footsteps and chose the military as a career. A graduate of West Point he flew 60 
combat missions in Europe. In 1954 he was promoted to brigadier general. Here Davis 
stands besides a P-48 Thunderbolt in Italy during World War II. 

[As Narrator speaks all Voices march offstage, first in a circle then one by one. Voice # / 
exits down right, Voice # 2 exits stage left. Narrator beings as the Reporter pauses briefly 
as he snaps a final photograph, jots something on his not pad, then puts pad and pen 
away and exits traveling up stage right.] 



NARRATOR: 

It was not until the end of World War H that the beginnings of integration of military 
units became policy. On July 26, 1948, President Truman issued Executive Order 9981, 
on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services. A shortage of 
manpower in the Korean War (1950-1953) hastened the thrust towards integration. By 
October 1954, more than six years after the order, integration was officially completed. 

[Image up stage changes to a protest scene for school integration. All voices reenter 
maintaining a position just at the perimeter of a large circle on center stage with their 
faces and frontal bodies just barely in view. As Voice # 1 speaks from this position they 
other Voices raise their hands in protest but remain in this position. The light rising just 
slightly on the Voices as we hear background sounds of protest chanting.] 



255 



VOICE #1: 

Also during that year the Supreme Court decision in the Brown v. Board of Education of 
Topeka, Kansas, overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), but it took demonstrations such 
as these demonstrators picketing in front of a school board office protesting the 
segregation of Negro students to gain enforcement of the 1954 Supreme Court Ruling. 

[Voice # 2 speaking from the edge of the lighted circle.] 

VOICE # 2: 

The Brown case was actually comprised of five cases launched by the NAACP at the 
same time in different states. Two of the cases reached the Court at the beginning of the 
1952, and were consolidated with the remaining three. In agreeing to hear the cases, the 
Supreme Court asked that the counsels consider a number of legal questions regarding 
the intent of Congress and the state legislators in ratifying the Fourteenth Amendment. 

[Entering from up stage right is seen Thurgood Marshall and simultaneously from stage 
down left is seen a Judge. The judge travels up stage and remains up stage from Marshall 
who when he steak steps down stage, turning slightly up stage to address the judges of 
the Supreme Court of the United States. They both travel down to center stage as Voice # 
1 speaks from the edge of the lighted circle.] 

VOICE #1: 

From December 7 to December 9, Thurgood Marshall aggressively argued the cases as 
chief counsel of the NAACP. In opposing Plessy v. Ferguson, Marshall claimed: 

THURGOOD MARSHALL: 

Your honors, we are merely asking for what was ours by right - it was simple justice." 

VOICE # 2: 

In its verdict, the Supreme Court asked: 

JUDGE: 

Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though 
the physical facilities and other 'tangible' factors may be equal, deprive the children of the 
minority group of equal opportunities? We believe that it does. 

[Judge exits up stage right and Marshall exits down stage left as Voice # 1 speaks.] 

VOICE #1: 

This decision over turn the earlier Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling, which over turned the 
original ruling of the Roberts vs. the City of Boston case. 



256 




Picture # 28: Brown vs. The Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas 



257 



NARRATOR: 

{Narrator continues) And while Brown had addressed only the issue of equality in 
education, the case started the Court on its way to reasoning that segregation, per se, was 
a doctrine inherently flawed. 

[All Voices reappear converging on center stage pantomiming to words of the Narrator.^ 

During this time most black families in Boston lived in multiple-family dwellings. Within 
their households often lived extended families. In addition this included the taking-on of 
boarders. The sharing of one's residence was due to a combination of cultural tradition 
and necessity. With social codes prohibiting blacks from housing in other parts of the 
city, black boarders often rented rooms in black households. 

{Voice # / steps down stage from group and speaks as other Voices continue their 
activities.} 

VOICE #1: 

Boarders pooled their income and shared responsibilities with the household. Those who 
were young with no occupation often aided others in childcare and domestic 
responsibilities. With limited housing and unfavorable economic and social conditions, 
living within this paradigm for the Boston Negro was their cultural/racial responsibility. 

[Voice # I freezes action as Voice #2 steps down stage. Voice # 2 speaks.] 

VOICE # 2: 

Boston on the one hand, is proud of its cultural heritage and traditions and it's those 
traditions that tourism often banks upon. However, on the other hand its is this 
ethnic/racial separation, this city of polarized neighborhoods, that is often central to the 
city's racial and cultural problems. 

[Seen entering from up stage right is a church congregation member who joins the other 
Voices assembling them into a church choir as Voice # I speaks.] 

VOICE # 1: 

When the general prosperity of the post war years after 1 945 stimulated the heavily 
Jewish population in North Dorchester and Upper Roxbury to seek better housing in the 
suburbs, the Negro burst out of their ghettoes and spread throughout the former Jewish 
district all the way down Blue Hill Avenue to Mattapan Square. 

[All Voices begin to sing third verse of Lift Ev 'ry Voice and Sing as the Narrator speaks.] 



258 



NARRATOR: 

This pattern of ethnic and racial communal boundaries still in many ways exists today. 

[Narrator move down center stage and continues:] 

The cultural mix of black Boston hails from all regions of the country and Caribbean, 
with a range in economic and educational experiences, greatly enhances Boston's black 
community making it the HUB of black New England. This rich cultural and ethnic mix 
can still be experienced today. 

CONGREGATION: 

God of our weary years, 

God of our silent tears, 

Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way; 

Thou who hast by thy might. 

Led us into the light, 

Keep us forever in the path, we pray. 

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee. 

Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee; 

Shadowed beneath thy hand. 

May we for ever stand. 

True to our God, 

True to our native land. ^' 

END 



"' Third verse of "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing" by James and Rosamond Johnson 



• 259 

V. Chapter Five 
Conclusion: 

In my capacity as professor of Theatre Arts and chairman of the Arts & 
Humanities Department I have had the fortunate opportunity to engage both my students 
and the Greater Roxbury community we serve in many participatory theatre encounters. 
We have been able to create very successful educational theatre projects. Through the 
use of Encounter Theatre I have developed an Associates of Arts Degree program in 
Theatre Arts, which led to the formation of other concentrations in Musical Arts, Visual 
Arts and Humanities. Currently we are developing a curriculum in Dance as well as an 
Afiicana Studies Program. Each of these Associate Degree Programs has a participatory 
element, similar to a conservatory approach^^, as part of the required curriculum. In the 
Theatre Arts concentration students are exposed to the both the technical and performing 
aspect of the art. Further along in their studies students are required to an in depth 
research report and a field experience on a particular area of interest theatre. Since many 
students would have through selected courses, have had the experience of Participatory 
Theatre they would now venture into its techniques to their own projects. The central 
focus is on the quality of the encounter. Remember to develop a quality product through 
an educationally enriching and rewarding process. Over the years some of the projects 
that students have undertaken have been at the Boston Renaissance School for the 
Performing Arts, WGBH-TV, The Wang Center-Always engaging students and 
community participants in stimulating activities. 



*^ A holistic approach to creative arts and learning, in which students are engaged in both theoretical and 
performance exploration in the learning of their art. 



277 





::^S;^S^ 



Dedlcachi 



liji to Robert GouJd Shaw am! ih.; liit\ ti-Mn;!! M.r, 

Hyjamca H. Smith and William J. Milkr 



During the autumn of iftG.i. Joihua B. Srntlh itttt 
with Gcivcrnor Andrew, Charlpj Swmnrr. \xw\\ 
other leading clttzt'ns of Bo?itr>n to plan y mi'rno. 
rial to Shaw, the othcj ^.iffM.vri, ;iihI th<r f nlisieU 
men of the Fifty-fourth, fn 1*84, the inttrriKijl 
comniMtot^ €stabUsht'd to raJsc funds for tht- piri- 
ject finally reached tts goal jnd commi^^ionrd 
Auj4uilus Maini-<Jaudens i 1848-1^7) to cxi:cutc 
ihf %Lul|Hu[t. 1 vvelve ytais later, on Way j 1, 
iK^7. iiejrly 225 vt^tfr^ns of the state's three 



bJack regiments — somi* erf whi?m Jirc vhcmii in 
tilt- above photograph — asjcmblc^i in Ikisttm ((► 
lidrtlclpiitc in the unvclhnK;, fkiokcf T. Washing- 
ton, one of the principal speakt-n rti the* Oay, a-di- 
(Iresscd the gathering and remm<lcd thuve in ait- 
itndance that the 'full measure of the fruit r>f 
l=oit Wagner* would no( be realized until full ojj- 
jMirtutiily was avaUabte to everyone, regardless of 
riHT. I'.dward Aikinson, TJit- U^nmncnl to RobcTt 
ijrwid Shaw . , . <Bmto» and N'ew York, 1897), 93. 



From We Fight For Freedom: Massachusetts African Americans and the Civil War 
A Massachusetts Historical Society PICTURE BOOK Boston 1993, Page 32 



Whose Faces are those on the Monument? 

There is a great myth surrounding the identities of the black soldiers depicted in 
the monument. Often times I hear that they are either made-up characters or they were 
the actual soldiers of the 54th. Surprising to say, this is what my research uncovered 

To secure living models for his black soldiers in variety of age and face 
and figure, Saint-Gaudens cruised the streets of Boston and New York. 
He considered "countless Negroes" as models. One snowy night in New 
York, riding the platform of a Broadway horse car, spotting under the 



* 260 

What I have specifically learned fi-om my experience in using Encounter Theatre 
is that in every encounter the students where truly empowered. Their learning about the 
world around them was heightened, but more importantly they gained a deeper 
understanding of themselves and their individual and collective roles in their 
communities. Adolescents through the encounter process found their individual and 
collective voice to speak about an issue that concerned them and share it with their 
community. From participation in The Mighty Jajah: A Jamaican Reality encounter 
actors and audience members developed an understanding and appreciation for the rich 
Jamaican culture. The challenge was using dialect as a means of exposing participants to 
a cultural diversity. From the Words of Reflection experience students developed an 
understanding and appreciation for the historical legacy of Greater Boston's African 
American community and its array of important contributions made to New England, the 
nation, and the world. 

Encounter Theatre is my unique theory of effective participatory theatre involving 
interaction, within the performance, between audience and actors engaged in an 
educationally enriched experience. It involves five significant stages whatever the 
application, first and foremost based on a consensus of involvement of all participants 
and a shared view as to the production product's outcome. My most important 
application of the Encounter Theatre Process has been the work on the Words of 
Reflection Trilogy-hoi\\ because of the subject matter-focusing on the historical 
development of Boston's Black community-and the empowerment process that the 
encounters create. 



261 



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Massachusetts at Amherst 



264 



Kaplan, Sidney and Emma Nogrady. (1989) The Black Presence in the Era of the 

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265 



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CT. Linnet Books 



* 266 

Appendix A 
Uncovering the Story Behind the Story: 

Using the films Glory and the Documentary The 54th Regiment of Massachusetts as a 
means of analysis of the moral and ethical issues raised in literal vs. interpretive 
history. 

I was on Beacon Hill in high school at a time when major events were taking 
place that would have a major positive impact on the African American community of 
Greater Boston. First the Black Heritage Trail was established. Patterned after the 
Boston Freedom Trail it was a trail that told of the history of Boston's first Black 
community by physically showing existing landmarks. The African Meeting House, the 
Augustus St. Gaudens ' Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Monument (across 
from the State House), the home of Abolitionist Louis Hayden and other significant 
locations made up the trail. I only discovered by being in that community that the African 
Meeting House, was the oldest standing Black church building in the country. I became 
aware of the significant contributions African Americans made to New England history 
for the first time as I witnessed the renovation of the African Meeting House. Had it not 
been for this experience I like many other people would have continued to pass by 
historic landmarks such as the Shaw/54th Regiment Monument unaware of its 
importance and quite possibly not recognizing the foot soldiers as African American. 

A documentary about the making of the movie Glory and the historical 
significance of the Robert Gould Shaw/54th Regiment Monument was produced in 1 997 
by WCVB-TV in Boston. This video documentary Story within A Story affords students 
the opportunity to view early African American presence on Beacon Hill from a unique 



« 267 

visual perspective, based on primary source documents of the artistic process of Augustus 
St. Gaudens [his rough sketches/drawing and renderings] along with background 
information on the political process it took in making the monument a reality. Presented 
here is a brief historical overview of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts, the monument 
that honors the memory of Robert Gould Shaw and his troops, and an analysis of the 
feature film Glory and the documentary film The 54th Regiment of Massachusetts. 
Reviewing these works I feel are of major historical significance and are crucial for 
teachers and students. 

Academic Objective: 

The Robert Gould Shaw-54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial, a high-bronze 
relief created by New England Sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the architectural 
site designed by the firm of McKim, Mead and White was dedicated on May 31,1 897. 
Present at the dedication were veterans of the 54th and 55th Regiments, the 5th Cavalry 
and several distinguished speakers including Booker T. Washington. Sergeant William 
Carney of New Bedford, who was wounded three times in saving the American flag from 
Confederate capture, was also present. Carney's bravery earned him the Congressional 
Medal of Honor, the first Afi-ican American to earn such a honor. Inscribed on the lower 
portion of the sculpture is a list of 62 names of those soldiers who died during the assault 
on Fort Wagner. The Museum of Afro-American History and the African Meeting House 
added these names in 1982, subsequently since that date, the monument has been referred 
to as the 54th Regiment Monument rather than solely to Robert Gould Shaw the young 
officer who led this regiment. In this essay I shall refer to it as the 54th Monument. 



268 

My behavioral objective is to take students through a process of discovery. Using 
secondary source materials to identify reproductions of primary source documents, 
students will learn to analyze what artistic expression is and its role in story telling. 
Terminology such as: symbolism in visual art to determine fact vs. fiction, composite 
character and its effect on the depicting truth, and moral and ethical issues raised in 
literal vs. interpretive history will be discussed. 

Methodology: 

Students (Senior high or College level) will view the Film Glory, visit The Robert 
Gould Shaw / 54th Regiment Monument, as part of a walking tour of The Black Heritage 
Trail., and view the documentary film, The Massachusetts 54th Regiment. After which 
they will write an analysis of this experience and how each item (each film and the 
monument) presented the truth about the 54th Regiment. 

Assignment: 

Research essay analyzing the use of film as an artistic interpretation of history. 
Questions to consider in your written analysis of the film Glory, and your response to the 
documentary The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and the information that has been 
presented to you about the monument's establishment: 

1. Glory a feature film 

a. What historical facts in your opinion has the film Glory gotten correct or incorrect? 

b. What historical facts you feel the film should have revealed, explored, & included? 



* 269 

2. The Shaw / 54th Regiment Monument 

a. If you were asked to trace the identities of the individuals depicted on the Shaw / 
54th Monument how would you begin? 

b. What sources would you rely on for accuracy? 

c. Do you think such a finite determination can be achieved? 

3. The Massachusetts 54th Infantry a documentary film 

a. What additional information has this film presented to you that Glory did not? 

b. Which historians comments do you feel are the most impressive/believable & why? 

4. What visual image about the 54th Regiment is the most memorable and why? 
Primary Source: 

From the Boston Public Library 

• Bay State Banner (1997) Boston Thursday October 2, 1997, Page 23 

• Black Heritage Trail (1992) U. S. Government Printing Office 

• Boston Herald Boston, (1998) Wednesday August 12, 1998, Page 8 

Films 

• Edward Zwick Director (1989) Glory 

TriStar RCA/Columbia Pictures Distributors 

• Jacqueline Shearer Producer (1991) /Director 

The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry 
WGBH/Boston American Experience Series 

Secondary Sources: 

Kaplan, Sidney. (1991) "American Studies in Black and White: Selected Essays 1949- 
1989" The Black Soldier of the Civil War in Literature and Art p. 101-123 
Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts at Amherst Press. Amherst 

Turner, Patricia A. (1994) Chapter 10 From Real Blacks to reel Blacks: Black Images 
and Their Influence on Culture, Ceramic Uncles and Celluloid Mammies. New 
York: Anchor Books 

( 1 993) We Fight For Freedom: Massachusetts African Americans and the Civil War 

A Massachusetts Historical Society PICTURE BOOK Boston 



270 

A Brief History of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts 

The Civil War (1861-1865) for African Americans at the time, be they free or 
slave, was a war for liberation. Although the Union [North] was reluctant to enlist blacks 
into the military two important turns of events happened which change the course of 
history. 

First was the political maneuvering of President Abraham Lincoln. The Civil War 
was now two years old and the North had not garnered a major victory yet. The 
President's armed forces were loosing the war at every front. He desperately needed a 
symbolic moral victory to turn the tide. When he passed The Emancipation 
Proclamation in January of 1863, which freed slaves in the territories of the Union, for 
all practical purposes it would have been nothing more than mere words on paper had he 
not attached this enactment with a Union military victory. A desperately needed battle 
victory to coincide with the official announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation 
would make it a major political statement. 

Second due to high casualties, the North desperately needed more recruits. The 
North reluctantly put prejudice aside and two month later a public "Call to Arms" went 
out to the African-American community asking them to enlist in the Union Army. 
Frederick Douglass was appointed by then Governor of Massachusetts John A. Andrew, 
to help recruit a regiment of African- American soldiers for the Commonwealth. In his 
public address at the African Meeting House, Frederick Douglass stated: 

When first the rebel cannon shattered the walls of Sumter, I predicted that 
the war... would not be fought out entirely by white men. Every month's 
experience during these two dreary years, has confirmed that 



271 

opinion... Only a moderate share of sagacity was needed to see that the arm 
of the slave was the best defense against the arm of the slaveholding 
rebels, I have implored the imperiled nation to unchain against her foes 
her powerful black hand. ..Who would be free themselves must strike the 
blow. Better even die free, than to live slaves. ..by every aspiration, which 
you cherish for the freedom and equality of yourselves and your 
children...,! urge you to fly to arms, and smite with death the power that 
would bury the Government and your Liberty in the same hopeless grave. 
The day dawns - the morning star is bright upon the horizon! The iron 
gate of our prison stands half open. One gallant rush from the North will 
fling it wide open, while four millions of our brothers and sisters shall 
march out into Liberty! The chance is now given you to end in a day the 
bondage of centuries, and to rise in one bound from social degradation to 
the plane of common equality with all other varieties of men." 

(Kaplan 1991:101-2) 



272 




WmCAMPATBEiOTILLE! 



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mntlon, MJiS5arliii';c-Us'% .ibiilillorii'M iUyvetm:n 
John .\, Anvlrrw t i8i8-eB6'i| c>47t;ijnir^a ^luthorlJUi- 
tion to organize the first rcgutiir nrmy rcxifrn-ni ni 
black irciojiv from ihc North. TTic Brj\tim hlu< k 
jbolHJOTiiir Iciulri Lcvv»s HayUc-n wav j hc-i^ufnl 
fldviMPr in \nOrrw and hu<3 icvrivsncixl Iht-- Kuver- 
nor to laitf the unil. C)vi-rii>minx tlst-ir initial dis,- 
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nuTil wdiilil Fdil i<irnuii>iSii>f I bl^i k f ililtt-Ts.. 



N<:.rtht'raii UUcks laElic-d to Andiiiw's call. Black? 
trturi jiKis.'i the Nof<h traveled to the Fjfiy- 
l^iuTihX cjtnii ^1 Heddvatle and by the end of May 
I 86;?, crmuxh vxjluriiti^eis had ^nlvcd !o ftU a sec- 
ond unit Ttif hiJutk tiiiniskujiaty liivx-sted enoc- 
mcHts svmh<^li^rn in llu* rt-sinietil, hellevLiig ihial 
thi'ir iMK' rL-!stt-d u|>iJti its success. Iti* Fifty-fourth 
M.i."^^iKhuseils. ensboJled liie asptrattoni of a peo- 
plf Afn3 Ihuir hojwh Lo und. slavery and iracJal 
prcjiud-iile. 



From We Fight For Freedom: Massachusetts African Americans and the Civil War 
A Massachusetts Historical Society PICTURE BOOK Boston 1993, Page 17 



273 



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I. Frederick DaugUw, "Men o( Cotor. To Armsr Dtarslais' Sfonthly, Mardt iftii>. 



Frederick Douglas, "Call To Arms!" Douglass' Monthly, March 1863 

From American Studies in Black & White: Selected Essays 1949-1989 
University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst by Kaplan, Sidney. 1991, Illustration # 1 

The African- American males who responded to Douglass' "Call To Arms" not 

only came from Greater Boston and various parts of New England but from every state of 

the North, with three from the West Indies and an additional twenty-one from Canada. 

They represented all walks of life and educational and economical backgrounds. Racist 

opponents in the North, through fear or ignorance, launched a smear campaign to discredit 

any attempt at black recruitment. When this failed to stop recruitment efforts they tried to 

spread slanderous remarks stereotyping the black recruits: 

...slander that they would not fight, paid them less than white solders, 

denied them black officers. Rebel generals threatened that any black 

solider captured on the field of battle, as well as any white officer with 



274 

him, would be enslaved or hanged or shot as an inciter of slave 
insurrection. Yet, before the war was over, almost 200.000 black soldiers, 
organized in 166 regiments of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, together 
v^th almost 30,000 black sailors- about one-quarter of the navy- had 
fought so effectively that Abraham Lincoln, seconding Douglass, was of 
the opinion that the black phalanx was the critical weight that had tipped 
the scale in favor of the Union triumph. To these black servicemen 
Congress awarded, for their gallantry and intrepidity in action, twenty 
Medals of Honor. 

(Kaplan 102) 

Unlike the fictional composite characters of the movie Glory which gave the 
impression that most of the soldiers were southern runaway slaves, the real members of 
the 54th and 55th were made up of mostly trades people who were northern free Blacks. 
Also included in their ranks were artists and entrepreneurs. Some of the individuals who 
enlisted were Private Lewis and Regimental Sergeant-Major Charles Douglass, sons of 
Frederick Douglass, and Toussaint L'Ouverture Delaney, son of Martin Delaney. Their 
sons were some of the surviving members of the 54th; the film Glory, leaves you with the 
impression that the entire Regiment died at battle at Fort Wagner. In addition to 
Douglass and Delaney' s sons were the sons and relatives of other leading abolitionist. 
William Lloyd Garrison's eldest son soon followed in enlisting in the 55th Regiment, 
even James Russell Lowell's two nephews, became officers in the 54th and 55th 
Regiments. 



* 275 

The monument's inception began through a fund established by Joshua B. Smith 
in 1865. Joshua Smith was a former employee of the Shaw household, and a fugitive 
slave from North Carolina, who later became a State Representative from Cambridge. 
The building of the Monument took fourteen years of fundraising and political lobbying 
spearheaded by Smith. I believe that a combination of Smith's personal ties with the 
Shaw household as a former employee, coupled with the historical note that he became a 
State Representative for Cambridge, Massachusetts, no doubt had major impact. 

The idea for a monument began not as the monument we see today across from 
the State House of Massachusetts but as a large shaft to mark the grave of those fallen 
heroes on South Carolina soil. The original vision was to be erected there on or near their 
common gravesite. And although they raised fifteen hundred dollars to do h, it never 
materialized for the following reasons: 1) a monument erected on South Carolina soil 
would have no longer been respected when Union troops withdrew [after 
Reconstruction], and 2) the spot of the common grave is now covered by the sea. Thus 
the idea died for a while. 

The idea that started with Smith gained momentum after the assassination of 
Abraham Lincoln. In 1865, Governor Andrew appointed a large committee that included 
Charles Sumner, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and black Baptist minister Leonard A. 
Grimes (of the 12th Baptist Church). They assisted in a major fundraising campaign, not 
just to erect a statue commemorating Shaw, but one that would capture this important 
event in history. I'm sure Reverend Grimes was on the committee to assure that the role 
of African- American participation would not be trivialized. 



* 276 

What should have taken a few years took more than thirty to realize. One reason 
for this long lapse in time was that two key committee members, Sumner and Longfellow 
passed away. Another reason was that the public's interest in such a cause waned and the 
project almost died itself. Then in 1881 Henry Hobson Richardson the designer of 
Boston's Trinity Church, picked up the baton. He questioned why such a noble campaign 
had stalled and urges that efforts be pushed forward. He recommended the sculptor 
Saint-Gaudens be hired to create the monument. Then thirty-five, the sculptor was only 
fifteen at the time of the 54th Regiment's Fort Wagner Battle. 

Several modifications were made of the original 'Boston" concept, which began 
as a traditional equestrian statue of Shaw, then later changed to a high-bronze relief 
envisioned for the interior of the State House. It eventually became the present-day 
bronze relief located across from the State House. Although other tributes to the black 
soldier of the Civil War era were nationally erected, the 54th Regiment Monument is by 
far, the most recognized national tribute to African -American participation in the Civil 
War. 




RoLh-TI Ct>uld Shaw 5-Itl^ Kc>;inxorvt Memorial, circj 1960. 



From We Fight For Freedom: Massachusetts African Americans and the Civil War 
A Massachusetts Historical Society PICTURE BOOK Boston 1993, Page 32 



* 278 

gaslight in Madison Square a black man whose head struck him as being 
just right, he jumped off the car and persuaded the man to come to his 
studio and pose for him. "I've done nothing but model, model furiously 
for the last month," he wrote to a friend. "I've been putting Negroes of all 
types in the Shaw, and it's been great fun." (Kaplan 117) 




Detail Photographs of African American Soldiers featured on the St. Gaudens Monument 

From American Studies in Black & White: Selected Essays 1949-1989 

University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst by Kaplan, Sidney. 1991, Page 118 

Saint-Gaudens modeled about forty 'heads' during the course of the monument's 

development. Of these forty or so 'heads' he actually ended up using less than thirty. 

Which ones are Bostonians? Which ones are New Yorkers? For a time it was a general 

mystery, but through the efforts of the Museum of Afro-American History, under which 

the African Meeting House is operated, and the National Park Service, which oversees 

both sites, annual reenactments of the 54th and 55th Regiments have taken place in 



279 

Boston. Many of the reenactment participants are actual ancestors of 54th and 55th 
Regiment soldiers and some even have documented proof of Saint-Gaudens 
immortalizing their ancestors. 

Augustus Saint-Gaudens' choice on inscription for the monument comes from 
Anna Waterston is poem titled "Together" which pays tribute to Shaw and the Regiment. 
It comes from her book of Verses published in 1863. Anna Waterston is the daughter of 
Josiah Quincy, then President of Harvard and Mayor of Boston. Another noteworthy 
tribute to Colonel Shaw was a marble bust created by the African-American sculptor 
Edmonia Lewis. Her bust of Shaw was displayed at the Soldier's Relief Fair in Boston in 
1864. 

Featured in the Bay State Banner on Thursday October 2, 1 997 was the following 
picture announcing the newly cast version of the Boston 54th Regiment Monument on 
display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Cast from the original mold of 
Augustus Saint-Gaudens which is on display at his studio in New York-a National 
Historic Site, the unveiling of this new cast was attended by Retired General Colin 
Powell and Bostonian Norman Conkin, a descendent of a Massachusetts 54th Regiment 
soldier. 



280 




Retired Gen. Colin Powell, Shell Oil President Phillip Carrol and Bostonian Norman 
Conklin, Descendant of a Mass. 54th Regiment Soldier, admire the newly cast version of 
the Augustus Saint-Gaudens memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment in 
Washington, D.C. The sculpture, cast from the same mold as the one opposite the State 
House, is at the National Gallery of Art. 



The following information is gathered from Patricia A Turner's book Ceramic 
Uncles and Celluloid Mammies: Black Images and Their Influence on Culture Chapter 10 
from Real Blacks to Reel Blacks . In this section the author uses the films Mississippi 
Burning, Glory and Lean on Me to show inaccuracies in these films depiction of 
historical fact. The section Glorious Inaccuracies zeroes in on the films choice in 
character depiction and its ultimate influence on the audiences perception of historical 
fact. The choice in the stories point of view, screen image of certain historical figures, 
and the omission or alterations of historical fact to fit perceived cinema graphic values in 
story telling are revealed. Below is a brief excerpt from this section. Included is 
information relevant to the characterizations that appear in the film. 



281 

It should come as no surprise that the bulk of the available information on the 
Massachusetts 54th-the first free Black Civil War regiment- focuses on the life of its 
young white leader, Robert Gould Shaw. And most of the point of view in the film is his: 
The audience sees the events play out through his eyes, from his perspective.... Like all of 
the battle scenes, the Antietam battle scene is meticulously filmed, as is the chilling 
hospital scene in which Shaw is bandaged. The details of Shaw's life are, for the most 
part, meticulously recorded. As the producers acknowledge in the film credits, they 
relied on the young colonel's letters, now in the possession of Harvard University. 

Unfortunately, the producers seem to have made little effort to consuh the 
extant primary sources that would have offered the African-American 
point of view. To be sure, some if this material is rare, but trained 
scholars could have unearthed it. For example, few African-American 
lives have been better documented than that of Frederick Douglass, the 
abolitionist leader who, in reality, played a significant role in the 
formation of the 54th, but whose contributions are reduced to a cameo in 
the film. Even a cursory examination of the biographies of Douglass 
would have revealed accurate examples of how he looked in the Civil War 
Years. Perhaps the filmmakers chose to age Douglass for theatrical 
purposes.... Other character modifications involved changes much more 
significant than ages. Attention to detail is severely lacking in the scenes 
that focus on the African-American characters. (Turner 1 72-1 73) 



282 



In The Film 



In Reality 



Frederick Douglass role limited to cameo role formation of the 54**' extensive 
appeared older (60-70 years old) was younger (early forties b. 1817) 



Composite Characters 

Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) 
the southern gravedigger 
Trip (Denzel Washington) illiterate 
southern runaway slave 
carried the flag to his death 



Actual characters 

did not existed 

Thomas Ampey literate 
free northerner died while 
carrying flag was recovered by 
William Carney literate carried 
the flag and lived 1st Black to win 
Congressional Medal of Honor 
Sharts (Jihimy Kermedy) did not existed 

A runaway from Teimessee 
Searle (Andre Braugher) did not existed 

boyhood friend of Shaw's 
The major flaw in this line of reasoning can be seen in the decision to 
make of these characters three recent slaves and the fourth an inept 
Northerner. The rank and file of the 54th do not match this profile. Many 
were sons or grandsons of ex-slaves who had spent their whole lives in the 
North. They were not all illiterate; we have letters and diaries that prove 
it. They were not as rough as the Trip, Rawlins, and Sharts characters 
suggest, more were they polished to the point of ineffectiveness as the 



♦ 283 

Searles character indicates. To use the much-quoted but very appropriate 
adage coined by Ralph EUison, the real men of the 54th are invisible in 
this film. (Turner 174) 

The Documentary: The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry 

This documentary produced after the film Glory was released, addresses two 
misconceptions concerning African Americans involvement in the Civil War and the 
Abolitionist Movement. One misconception the documentary addresses is the belief that 
all Black people lived in slavery in the South before the Civil War. In fact 500,000 free 
Blacks lived through out the North and South about evenly divided. Another perception 
was that Abolitionists were high and mighty white Northerners, mostly Bostonians. In 
fact for their relatively small population in Northern cities African Americans made up 
the majority of Abolitionist. In all Northern cities that had an African American 
presence, the Black community was a highly organized and diligent force in the fight 
against slavery. 

The small Black community of Boston, about 2% of the city's population, could 
not support an entire Black regiment. Prominent Black Abolitionists were hired as 
recruiters: Rock Sweat Rock (who later becomes the first Black Attorney)- covered New 
England; Frederick Douglass - recruited in New York; Martin Delaney - went to Illinois 
and Indiana; and others traveled as far as Canada. Due to racial tension, often initiated by 
poor whites that refused to accept Blacks as their equals, recruitment went on in secrecy. 

Offspring of some of the famous Black Abolitionist enlisted Sojourner Truth's 
grandson and the sons of Frederick Douglass and Martin Delaney along with people from 



* 284 

all walks of life. Eli Bittle (19 years old) who reflised to sing My Country Tis' of Thee, 
was dismissed from school and roamed the street of Boston. He did this as a personal 
protest against the singing of a patriotic song that boasted of a land of liberty that he did 
not share. That day he happened upon a recruiter for the 54th Regiment and enlisted on 
the spot. Eli Bittle was one of the surviving members of the 54th Regiment. After the 
establishment of the 54th Regiment twenty other regiments were formed. Another 
important note is that 10,000 African Americans chose the Navy like Abolitionist Louis 
Hayden's son. In all 178,975 Black served as soldiers in the Union Army. 

The most important aspect of this documentary is that it attaches real faces to this 
true event. Highlighted in the film are the real faces and the words of those who lived it. 
Many African Americans accepted enlisting in the Union Army as their racial duty and 
responsibility. "They had fought for the right to fight, they had fought for freedom," 
someone states. African Americans had to not only prove that they could be soldiers who 
could fight and (often) die with dignity; they had to prove they were men. The battle of 
Fort Wagner that the 54th Regiment was engaged in and suffered 50% casuaUies ( the 
54th Regiment depicted in the movie Glory as being totally enlisted), was a small affair 
as battles go but it's importance was in the long run, and what it said about the human 
spirit, and the light of truth it sheds on history. 



285 




4». -S<Tg-,. W. H. 0,^cy--Co. C. ,4,1. Mj.,. v„I.„ ■ ,n Joseph T. U',!,™, 
The Black Phjtjnx 11S901. 



Sergeant William H. Carney, Company C, 54th Massachusetts Volunteers 
in Joseph T. Wilson The Black Phalanx (1 890). 

From American Studies in Black & White: Selected Essays 1949-1989 
University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst by Kaplan, Sidney. 1991, Illustration # 49 

In briefly comparing the feature film Glory to the documentary, The 

Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry several facts needs to be pointed out. The 

documentary clarified for me the following facts that the move Glory did not dwell on. 

For one, many important people enlisted in both the 54th and 55th Massachusetts 

Regiments, two sons of Frederick Douglass enlisted in the 54th and two sons of William 

Lloyd Garrison enlisted in the 55th all of whom came back alive. James Trotter, father of 

William Monroe Trotter the editor of the Boston Guardian Newspaper was also a 

surviving member of the 55th. These facts do not come across in the film Glory. 



286 

Secondly, most of the 54th Regiment was made up of affluent, well-educated members of 
the Black communities hailing from the Mid West and all over New England. The film 

Using film as a means of capturing and retelling history is an important and 
powerfial medium in disseminating information to a wide audience. However, we live in a 
highly mediated society in which more and more people are using film and television as 
their sole means of acquiring knowledge. All history is revisionist history, which is 
subject to interpretation by its author. It doesn't matter if it's a textbook, newspaper 
story, feature film or documentary film all of these works are creative interpretations. 
Why read the book when you can see the movie is often the rationale of many people 
who are leisurely accepting of the film director's interpretation as historical fact. Steven 
Spielberg's The Color Purple was markedly different than the Alice Walker book from 
which it was based. In true Spielberg fashion he created an epic movie that was 
interpreted for a wider audience. His consideration for not exploring the intimate 
relationship between the main character Celie and Shug Avery may have been politically 
motivated. Had he kept to the original text he might have lost the PG rating and along 
with it his wider, broader audience appeal or those purists and those who are culturally 
connected to the work of Alice Walker might take offense to this omission. 

When analyzing film we must consider the following: the time in which the film 
depicts, the fime in which the film is created, the rationale for the works creation, and 
finally from whose perspective is the work (story) presented. Glory however, depicts the 
majority as illiterate runaway southern slaves. This was probably done in consideration of 
this nation's popular belief of the caliber of Black soldiers during the Civil War. Finally, 
the 54th Regiment was only engaged in a limited number of altercations and did suffer 



* 287 

tremendous casualties, at least 50%. Unlike the final scene in the movie Glory where 
Col. Shaw and the flag barer Trip are seen killed and their bodies left in a trench together 
with the rest of the Regiment, there were survivors. For one the true flag barer Sergeant 
William Carney survived and as illustrated earlier in this essay, he was awarded the 
Congressional Medal of Honor, the first African American to earn this prestigious award. 
Only recently, has information resurfaced publicly, about the major contributions of 
African-Americans in this chapter of history. At the Saint-Gaudens' Monument 
dedication, William James captured well the significant, lasting imprint on history this 
monument will/has made: "...after the great generals have had their monuments and long 
after the abstract soldier's monuments have been reared on every village green, Saint- 
Gaudens' bronze would live on." (Kaplan, 91:103) 



• 288 

Works Cited 

Bay State Banner (1997) Boston: October 2, 1997 

Black Heritage Trail (1992) U. S. Government Printing Office 

Banks, James & C. A (1998) Boston Herald Boston, August 12, 1998 

Black Bostonia: Boston 200 Neighborhood History Series (1976), Boston; Boston 200 
Corporation 

Fraser, James W., Henry L. Allen, Sam Barnes. (1979) From Common School to Magnet 
School: Selected Essays in the history of Boston's Schools. Boston: Trustees of 
the Boston Public Library 

Kaplan, Sidney. (1991) "American Studies in Black and White: Selected Essays 1949- 
1989" The Black Soldier of the ciyil War in Literature and Art Amherst. MA: 
University of Massachusetts at Amherst 

Turner, Patricia A. (1994) "From Real Blacks to reel Blacks: Black Images and Their 
Influence on Culture," Ceramic Uncles and Celluloid Mammies. New York: 
Anchor Books 



289 

Appendix B: Social Issue 

YOUTH ACTION MOVEMENT 
PRODUCTION 

The Deadly Gift: Teen Drama about AIDS awareness 

Written by David D. Coleman II with Students of the Youth Action Movement 

Omesha Allen, Cheryl Barrett, Natasha Belixzaire, John Carvalho, 

Shelley Coon, Manny Correia, Vagner Correia, Neldy Jean-Francois, 

Luizette Correia, Jorge Lopes, Martine Menard, Fabienne Renelien, 

Tyisha Turner, Judith Muhammad, and Salodeen Muhammad 

Under the Direction of David D. Coleman II, Program Director 

INTRODUCTION 

"The Deadly Gift," is a play about AIDS, not just the disease; but about the 
people inflicted, and those who can get it. We have written this play to educate teens 
about the dangers and misconceptions associated with AIDS. It's about those who are 
unaware of the dangers of unprotected sex. People need to know the consequence of 
having sex irresponsibly can be far more dangerous than anything in the world. We are 
performing this play to further AIDS awareness amongst teens and our community as a 
whole. 

We are trying to get across that AIDS is a serious problem, not just domestic but a 
global issue. If one were to have sex without a condom it is quite possible to loose your 
life, all for something that won't last very long. Besides sexually transmitted diseases, 
unwanted pregnancies and their negative effects on the family are things you might have 
to worry about. We the teens at the Youth Action Movement Program have worked very 
hard to make this play an unforgettable experience. -The Youth Action Movement 



290 



THE DEADLY GIFT 
A Drama about AIDS awareness among teens 

Outline: 

ACTI 
At THE PARTY 

SCENE 1 . The Burke Family (Setting up for the party) 
SCENE 2. The House Party (James Crew enter party) 

SCENE 3. The Confi-ontation (Jealously) 

ACTH 
AT HOME 

SCENE 1 . The Burke Family (Blinkie's problem) 
SCENE 2. Manny & Tina (The Encounter) 

SCENE 3. James Crew (Just Chilling) 



ACT HI 
AT SCHOOL 



SCENE 1. 
SCENE 2. 
SCENE 3. 
SCENE 4. 


Marmy & The Boyz (In the school yard) 
Blinkie & Her Crew (In the Library) 
Monie & Company (In the Cafeteria) 
Dee & Company (In the Cafeteria) 




INTERMISSION 


SCENE 1. 
SCENE 2. 


ACT IV 
HOME AGAIN 

The Burke Home (Blinkie's checkup) 
James Crew (reflecting) 


SCENE 1. 
SCENE 2. 
SCENE 3. 
SCENE 4. 
SCENE 5. 


ACTV 
HOSPITAL 

The Checkup (Tina's plight) 

The Visit (doing the right thing) 

AIDS RAP: Start (Summary) 

Manny's Visit (the gift) 

AIDS RAP: END (The Deadly Gift) 



291 



THE DEADLY GIFT 
CAST 

Produced by the Youth Action Movement, The Deadly Gift premiered in August 1991 at 

Roxbury Community College and at Wentworth Institute of Technology. 

THE BURKE CREW 

MESHA BURKE OMESHA ALLEN 

CARLABURKE C ASS ANDRE KELBREAU 

DUCKY — — NATASHA BROOKS 

JOHN JOHNCARVALHO 

PAULA CRYSTRAL GONCALVES 

BLINKIE— JUDTH MUHAMMAD 

THE JAMES CREW 

JOSE JOSECORREIA 

MIKE MICHAEL BROWN 

SHELLEY SHELLEY COON 

DANA SALODEEN MUHAMMAD 

MANNY & THE BOYZ 

MANNY- -MANNY CORREIA 

JORGE -JORGE LOPES 

VAGNER VAGNER CORREIA 

JOHN - — JOHNCARVALHO 

MONIE & COMPANY 

MONIE - — - — NICKY THOMAS SAINT 

STACEY MARTINE MERNARD 

LINDA TYISHA TURNER 

DEE- - NEEDY JEAN-FRANCOIS 

FAB FABIENNE RENELIEN 

TINA NATASHA BELIZAIRE 



♦ 292 

ACT I 
THE PARTY 

The time: is the early 1990's. 

The place: Lower Roxbury section of Boston, Massachusetts 

Setting: Realistic but sparse, only essential set pieces and staging needed. 

The play begins at a house party given by the Burke children, both students at Copley 
High School. Her parents have gone for the weekend to attend a funeral of a close family 
friend. Rather than dwell on the sad occasion. Ducky and Omesha decides to give a 
party in the hopes that it will lift their spirits. 

The play opens in the interior of the living room and foyer of a large house located in 
Roxbury, Massachusetts. This is where the Burke family lives. The Burke family's 
moderately ftimished house shows signs of being lived in by a very active family. The 
house is neatly kept although schoolbooks, jackets, and walkmans are seen scattered 
about the room. Most of the ftimiture has been moved back against the walls allowing 
the center of the room to be opened indicating that some type of ftanction has or will take 
place. 

There are no decorations with the exception of a punch bowl located on the table against 
the wall in the foyer. To the left we see a DJ stereo propped up on a pair of speakers. 
The lights are dimmed as some of the cast members enter. Seen entering the room are 
Ducky, Misha, and Tyisha as the music starts the doorbell rings. 



293 




294 



ACT I 

SCENE I 
THE BURKE'S HOME 

THE PARTY GIVERS 

[Enters Meisha, Ducky, and their friend John. The house is all ready set up for a party. 
The group is discussing plans for the party while awaiting the arrival of the DJ as the 
scene opens.] 

DUCKY: 
So how did ya'll get the chance to throw this party? 

MEISHA: 

Mom's left town. 

DUCKY: 

What'd you mean she left? Isn't it unusual for her to do that at such a short notice? 

CARLA: 

Yeah, I know. It's because she heard last night that her best fi-iend died. 

DUCKY: 

That's hard. 

MEISHA: 

Yeah and the thing about it is that she died of AIDS. 

JOHN: 

How's she handling it? {looks around) I mean, to die of AIDS in just, (pauses)... knoWmg 
that I'm guaranteed to die. {looks down shaking his head) Man that'll just, {doesn 't know 
what to say)...\ don't know, but, that's scary. 

CARLA: 

I know. We knew ahead of time, about a year ago, that her friend had AIDS. But. . . 

MEISHA: 

{interrupting) Now she's gone because of a mistake. It wasn't even her fault. We 
thought the lady was cured when she went to that rehab program. Cause after. . . 

CARLA: 

{interrupts angrily) Don't tell her business! 

DUCKY: 

{to Carla) Calm down! It's okay. We understand. 

JOHN: 

You know we didn't mean to make an issue of it. 



295 



[The doorbell rings] 

DUCKY: 

I'll get the door, (head towards door) 

MEISHA: 

It better be Butterball and her girl Paula. They're always late for everything. 

[Ducky opens the door. Enters Paula & Blinkie, 
whom they sometimes call Butterball because she 's pregnant.] 

PAULA: 

What's up? Sorry we're late. 

BLINKIE: 

I thought I was going in labor. 

JOHN: 

That girl can think of an excuse in two sees and make it sound so real. Look at her, she's 
only three months pregnant, she's hardly showing. 

[The group all laughs at her comment] 

DUKY: 

Ya'll are late, we're almost finished setting up for the party tonight. 

PAULA: 

How did you get the crib to yourselves anyway? 

MEISHA: 

Mom's left town. 

DUCKY: 

Man, I wish that D.J. would hurry up and get here. He's taking too long. 

MEISHA: 

Yeah, I wonder what's keeping him? (innocently) I hope he didn't die or nothing. 
{sarcastically Ducky & Paula start laughing) 

CARLA: 

{cutting in) That's not funny! You never know what could've happened. He could be in 
the hospital, sick like Shelly was. 

DUCKY: 

That's messed up. How did Shelly get it anyway? I know he's not gay, alj them girls he 
had. 



296 




297 



CARLA: 

A lot of people get it from unprotected sex. Then after you had it for a while you can get 
a cold or something, it'll shoot up into the flu or pneumonia and then you'll be sitting at 
the table of GOD. 

MEISHA: 
Change the subject 'cause all that shit's bootiee! If there's a guy wit' a nice body, a big 
butt, a cut face, a car and some money, you best believe I'm a be wid that, without 
question! 

CARLA: 
You're dumb! You'll get with any guy who's got money. 

MEISHA: 

If I see a big fat, dookie link walkin' this way, I'll. . .. 

[The bell rings and Meisha goes to open it. The DJ enters 
carrying records. The group go to help set-up the stereo equipment.] 

DUCKY: 

{to the DJ) Where were you? We've been waiting here thinking something happened to 
you. 

[The DJ simply just shrugs his shoulder and continues to set-up hi equipment] 

MEISHA: 

{tugging on Tyisha's arm) Come on! We've only got about an hour before people start 
coming. 

[They begin to set up the equipment. Time passes. The scene continues an hour later and 
some guests are already in the house. The party has already begun and people have 
started to arrive.] 

CARLA: 

You know my mother's friend who had AIDS? 

PAULA: 

Yeah. 

CARLA: 

Well she received noticed of her death yesterday, so she left to go to the funeral. 

BLINKIE: 

That's sad. I don't know what I'll do if I got AIDS or even just the virus. 

MEISHA: 

{to Blinkie) As many Niggers you been with, you couldn't count the diseases you can 
receive. 



298 



BLINKIE: 

That's fowl. I'm cautious of AIDS. If they have the virus then we use the Jimmy, but if 
they got AIDS all the way, then they keep stepping. 

MEISHA: 

You're so stupid. You can still get AIDS. 

PAULA: 

(snapping) Don't be going off on my best friend like that. 

MEISHA: 

The way you're talking, especially since you're pregnant, I think you should go get 
checked out. 

BLINKIE: 

What are you trying to say, that I got AIDS? 

DUCKY: 

Would ya'll chill, (changing the subject) We have to finish setting up. And I don't like 
this conversation anyway. 

CARLA: 

I know it, (looking at Blinkie & Tyisha) ya'll need to stop. Okay? (pause) I can't bear 
the loss of another person (sternly) especially when this one is close to me. 

JOHN: 

(cutting in) Hey, why don't we do what we're here to do? 

DUCKY: 

I know cause this conversation is scary. (She moves to the DJ area and begins dancing.) 

MEISHA: 

(compassionately) I still think you should go. 



PAULA: 

(to Meisha) Why don't you shut up! 

MEISHA: 

(ignoring Paula) I'm not saying anything, only that ya'll know I always say be careftil (to 
Blinkie) and you're putting yourself at risk every time you have unprotected sex! 

BLINKIE: 

(interrupts) You don't know what you're talking about. (Blinkie moves towards Meisha 
as though she 's about to fight her.) 



299 



JOHN: 

{stepping in between them) Break it up! We've been friends too long for us to beef over 
something like this. 

BLINKIE: 

{to Paula) What if Meisha's right? What if I do have HIV or even AIDS? 

PAULA: 

{to Meisha) Would you please shut up! {to Blinkie) Don't talk like that. 

BLINKIE: 

I don't know Paula. I was checked four months before I was pregnant and it was 
negative. It's very scary now. 

PAULA: 

{to Meisha) Now you see what you're doing. . . 

DUCKY: 

{still grooving to the music) Why ya'U ain't dancing? 

PAULA: 

Blinkie's thinking about what Meisha said. Now she's scared. 

DUCKY: 

Well that was because of the way she came off But it was also because she was mad, 
ya'll were late. {Changing the subject, continuing to dance.) Come on let's party. 

PAULA: 

I'm going to dance. 

CARLA: 

{calling to Blinkie) Blinkie don't let what my sister said get to you. 



BLINKIE: 

{To Carlo) But I can't help to think what if, (getting emotional)... What if I am positive. 

CARLA: 

To put your mind at ease, we're going to take you to get tested tomorrow and prove 
you're negative. 

BLINKIE: 

{obviously nervous) I ain't sweating it. I told you I had a test four months ago and it was 
negative. You think I could be positive? That... the test I took four months ago could be 
wrong? And my {looking at her stomach) baby could have AIDS? 



300 



CARLA: 

(interrupts) Butterball you better chill, (attempting to calm her down) Why don't you go 
and dance. 

[Blinkie walks over to the area where several couples are dancing. She approaches a 
guy she obviously knows and they begin to dance. The group still huddled to one side of 
the room near the DJ begin to scan the party, checking out the guests. Eyes scan over to 
Blinkie and her dance partner who are now getting down in the middle of the dance floor, 
dancing every erotically.] 

DUCKY: 

Look at 'em at it. Look at her on that boy. (shaking her head) Every time I turn around 
she's on someone new. 

CARLA: 

Or either they're on her (they laugh, Carla goes to dance). 

DUCKY: 

(to Paula) See that boy over there (pointing nonchalantly) he's crazy fine! Now that's 
the kind of guy I'd like to have a one-night-stand with. 

MEISHA: 

Please, that'll be the only one-night-stand cuz everyday after that you'll be laying in the 
hospital. 

PAULA: 
You all need to chill because you all know that's the father of Blinkie's baby, and he's 
denying it. (steps to the side with tears in her eyes.) 

DUCKY: 
Dag Meisha, you serious? I didn't know. 

MEISHA: 

(They all look at Blinkie & the guy) that means Blinkie may be... I knew about the AIDS 
stuff but, I had no idea that was her baby's father. 

DUCKY: 
You're serious about that father stuff? 

PAULA: 

Not my girl. My best friend! You better still be joking! 

DUCKY: 

Sorry But I'm not. 

[Carla walks back over to Paula and Ducky continuing her conversation with them.] 

CARLA: 

We're going to prove that Blinkie's negative by testing her. 



301 



DUCKY: 

I don't think that can be possible. 

CARLA: 

Oh come on now. Don't tell me that.... Oh shoot, (looking at the fine dude) ain't he that 
dude {pointing) people says has AIDS or is HIV positive? 

DUCKY: 

That's what we're talking about. 

CARLA: 

I don't get it. 

DUCKY: 

She slept with him. . .that means her baby and the mother can both have it. 

PAULA: 

She was so loyal to him. She may have talked to other dudes but she never did anything 
with them. 

CARLA: 

Oh my, {looking up) no GOD! {touching Paula on the arm) Oh I'm so sorry Paula. 

[John walks over to the group. He can see that something is obviously wrong.] 

JOHN: 

What's wrong? {pause) I know something's wrong 'cause you all ain't dancin'. 

MEISHA: 

We think Blinkie may be infected with the HIV virus. 

JOHN: 

Yeah, {disbelieving) no come on. 

MEISHA: 

I'm serious John. I'm not playing this time. 

JOHN: 

{angrily shouting) You just can't stop it can you? 

DUCKY: 

{attempting to calm him down) John chill. We're for real. All jokes aside. 



302 



CARLA: 

Damn! {disbelieving) This can't be true. Every time something goes right for you, life 
turns you down. 

PAULA: 

Look (wiping her tears from her eyes) I'm not going to believe it until I know it's true. 
This conversation is crazy! I don't want to heart it. (angrily) I knew you never liked her. 

[Paula angrily walks briskly towards the door. As she 's passing Meisha she deliberately 
bumps into her.] 

MEISHA: 

What's wrong Paula? What's your problem? 

PAULA: 

Get out of my way! (rambling off) I should have known from the start you never. . . 

MEISHA: 

(grabs her by the arm) What are you talking about? 

PAULA: 

Get your hand off me you. . . 

MEISHA: 

Tell me what's the matter. 

PAULA: 

I'll kill you if you don't get your hands off me. (still rambling) If she does come out to 
be positive. 

[Meisha lets loose of Paula, watches her exit through the front door, slamming it. 
Everyone in the party, except Blinkie and the guy she is dancing with momentarily turn 
and notice the noise of the door slamming, but immediately after return to their routines. 
Meisha walks over to the group.] 

MEISHA: 

What's up with Paula? Blinkie hasn't even been tested yet and she's taking this so 
seriously! 

CARLA: 

It is serious. 

MEISHA: 

Your right it is a serious problem. (Breathing heavily) My night was just ruined. Oh 
well.... 



303 



EVERYONE: 

{Everyone looks at Meisha) Your fowl! 

[Scene ends as action immediately cuts to the exterior front of the Burke 's home.] 



304 



ACT I 

SCENE II 
THE J CREW 

[The scene begins at the exterior front of the Burke home. Seen are Jose, Mike, Dana, 
and Shelley, a group of guys from the neighborhood walking towards the house. The 
scene opens just prior to their arrival at the front door.} 

JOSE: 

Check it right. I saw Mike and his girl down around the way. Yo dog, that bitch is FAT! 
She's so fat she jumped up in the air and got stuck! {The guys laugh.) 

MIKE: 

My girl, what about your girl Minnie? 

JOSE: 

Minnie, who's Minnie? 

MIKE: 

As Minnie fingers as you can get around it. (Everyone laughs) 

JOSE: 

Forget you, you dingy hooker. 

MIKE: 

That's right, just like I was hooking your sister last night. 

SHELLEY: 

Yo, Jose go get your welfare check and buy some new jokes. 

JOSE: 

Welfare? Look at your family. Your poor little dirty brother. 

DANA: 

Yeah dog, he does have a point there. Your brother is kinda dirty. 

SHELLEY: 

I know you ain't talking, the same Nigger who tried to get on the bus with cans. 

DANA: 

Me? It's your mother that old Chinese lady who we be seeing Downtown with the big 
trash bags filled with cans! 

SHELLEY: 

Naw., that's your sister. 



305 



JOSE: 

Well we all know it wasn't your sister 'cause I was with her last night. 

MIKE: 

Her and her fifty cans. 

[They arrive at the front door of the house and ring the bell. One of the guests standing 
near the door opens it and lets them into the party. At this point all joking stops, as they 
enter their eyes are focused on the girls they see nearby and on the dance floor. Some 
of them scope the punch bowl they tap the others to get their attention and then they all 
proceed to the punch bowl. As they are getting their drinks the conversation continues.] 

SHELLEY: 

Your mom's so fat she sat she had to take off her pants to get in her pockets 

JOSE: 

Your mom's so fat she sat on a scale and it said to be continued. 

DANA: 

Your mom's so dumb that she went to the movies and they said under seventeen not 
admitted. So she went home and got sixteen of her friends. 

SHELLEY: 

Your haircut is so wack that it looks like Stevie Wonder cut it. 

MIKE: 

Your mom's so poor she went to Kentucky Fried Chicken one day and licked her fingers 
the next. 

DANA: 

Your mom's so fat that she makes bell-bottoms look tight. 

SHELLEY: 

Your mom's so dumb that she went to the family double dare, they asked her name and 
she said I'll take the physical challenge. 

DANA: 

Your mom's so dumb that she got locked in Star Market and died of starvation. 

SHELLEY: 

Your mom's so short that she jumped off a curb to commit suicide. 



306 



MIKE: 

Your family is so poor that when you took the family picture and the photographer said 
"say cheese" you all got in line. 

DANA: 

What do you call a fag in a wheel chair? 

MIKE: 

What? 

DANA: 

Roll-Aids. 

SHELLEY: 

What do you call a fag with out AIDS? 

DANA: 

What? 

SHELLEY: 

A virgin. 

JOSE: 

Wait a minute, {eyeing some girls on the dance floor) Why don't ya'U chill with those 
AIDS jokes. 

{Jose heads over to one of the girls he 's been watching and begins to dance with her. 
The others follow his lead and begin to search for dance partners.] 



307 



ACT I 

SCENE III 
THE BURKE HOME 

MANNY & COMPANY 

[Other people have started arriving at the party. Some have come as couples, others in 
small groups of either males or females. From the looks of things most of the teens know 
each other, with the exception of a group of three girls (Monie and her Crew) who have 
taken a position in the farthest corner of the room, distancing themselves from the rest of 
the group. One of the girls is noticeably looking around the room obviously looking for 
someone. Soon after the girls have entered and situated themselves in the party, Manny 
and his Crew (Jorge, John, and Vagner) enter. Unknown to Manny at this time is that his 
girlfriend, Monie, whom he recently had a fight with, is at the party.] 

MANNY: 
This party is slamming' ! 

JORGE: 

{looking around) The females look nice. 

VAGNER: 

Let's get some digits. 

JOHN: 

Fm going to dance. (Heads for the dance floor) I'm going to look for a female. 

JORGE: 

{to Manny) Go find a bitch to dance with. 

MANNY: 
{to Jorge) I'm wid dat. 

JORGE: 

{tapping Manny and pointing at a girl he sees) Look at that girl over there. 

MANNY: 
{Looking in the same direction) The one with the big ass? 

JORGE: 

Yep! She's nasty. 

MANNY: 
I'm gonna dance with her. 

VAGNER: 

Go ahead son. 



308 



[Manny heads towards the girls he 's been watching and he asks her to dance. Vagner 
not wanting to be left out follows their lead. As they move to the dance floor four girls 
walk towards the punch bowl up stage. As they gather their refreshments they notice 
Manny and his crew scooping them and begin their conversation. ^ 



Tina, that guy over there is scopin' you. 



He's kinda cute. 



Yeah, he is! Ya wanna get with him? 



Naw. . .1 can't do that. 



You want me to talk to him for you? 



Naw, I don't even KNOW him. 



You want me to introduce ya'll? 



DEE: 



FAB: 



CHE: 



TINA: 



DEE: 



TINA: 



DEE: 



NO!. 



TINA: 



DEE: 

Let's walk over there. . .Oh Shoot! Here he comes! 

[Manny approaches Tina unaware that now he 
is being watched by Monie and her Crew.] 

STACEY: 

Monie, Manny's headin' for some other girl. 

LINDA: 

Seems to me after yawls fight he ain't had much to say to you. (Stacey and Linda laugh) 



MONIE: 

(while staring at Manny & Tina 's group) It ain't even like that. . .He's just tryin' to make 
me jealous. 



* 309 

STACEY: 

Seems like it's working. 

MONIE: 

(angrily) Shut up! 

[Action shifts to Manny who has just introduced himself to Tina and her girlfriends. 
Tina's friends have distanced themselves a little from the two of them to give them some 
privacy.] 



What's your name? 



Tina. 



You got a boyfriend? 



No. 



MANNY: 



TINA: 



MANNY: 



TINA: 



MANNY: 
Why a pretty girl like you without a boyfriend? You need one? 



TINA: 

If I find the right one. 

MANNY: 
I think the right guy is right here in this party. 

TINA: 

Who? 

MANNY: 
Who else? Warma dance? 

TINA: 

{smiles and shrugs her shoulders) Sure. 

[As Manny and Tina dance we see Monie and her Crew, over to the far corner of the 
room, talking amongst themselves. They begin pointing at Manny and Tina making 
obviously negative comments. Then they begin eyeing Tina 's girlfriends.} 



310 



STAGEY: 

What are those girls looking at? They seem to have some kind of problem with us. 



MONIE: 

I know they better not try anything. 

LINDA: 

Monique it seems like Manny was looking at her. 

STAGEY: 

Yeah, the minute they got here I saw him looking at t he one with the shirt on. 

LINDA: 

It seems like Manny was looking at her. Monie, look now he's dancin' wit some chic. 
Think he's still out to make ya jealous? 

STAGEY: 

Looks to me like he wants new skins. 

MONIE: 

Naw, it ain't even like that... 

LINDA: 

Don't even sweat it Monie, he ain't nobody. 



MONIE: 

He's my man. 

STAGEY: 

It ain't even Manny cuz He KNOWS BETTER. 

LINDA: 

Yeah. It's that girl, did you see the way she was scopin' him? 

MONIE: 

Bet! I got somethin' for that whoe! I'll teach her to mess wit my man. 

[Action shifts to the other side of the room.] 

DEE: 

Yo Fab, Shey, don't mean to bust yawls bubble, but some people are staring us down, 
and it ain't no guys. 



311 



FAB: 

What's up wit them? They've been staring at us for a while. 

CHE: 

I'm about to go over there and ask them what's up. 

DEE: 

Let's go then. 

[Dee, Shey, and Fab walk over to Monie and her Crew. All the while Manny and Tina 
continue to dance, not noticing anything other than each other.} 

DEE: 

{to Stacey) Do you have a problem? 

STACEY: 

{stepping up to Dee, in her face) Yea, you bitches! 

MONIE: 

Yeah, first ya'Il step out of yawls place and then YOU (pointing at Tina and speaking 
loudly so everyone can hear especially Manny.) try to take my man! I ain't havin' it. 

LINDA: 

Then won't you do somethin' about it? 

JOHN: 

(Standing near) Hey, why don't ya'll chill. 



CHE: 

Naw! They started it, and we're gonna finish it. 

[Scene ends just as we see the tension mounting between the girls. In the center of the 
floor still dancing are Manny and Tina, obviously in their own world.] 



312 



ACT II 

SCENE I 

THE BURKE FAMILY HOME 

[Scene opens at the Burke family home...] 

CARLA: 

I can't believe it, first mom's friend, now mine, and to make things worst, you had to 
bring up the subject on Blinkie. 

MEISHA: 

Look. 1 was only trying to look out for her. 

CARLA: 

Well, now you won't have to anymore because she has it, not HIV but AIDS, 

[Doorbell rings. Meisha rises slowly, staring at Carla, as she moves towards the door. 
She opens it letting in John, Ducky, and Tyisha.] 

MEISHA: 

John and Ducky are here. 

DUCKY: 

We were about to go in town, but we decided to drop by here first, (looks at Carla and 
Meisha) So what have ya'll been talkin' about or doing? 

MEISHA: 

We were discussing Blinkie. 

JOHN: 

I know Paula must be taking it very hard. 1 mean they were always together. It was like 
they were each other's shadows except for when they slept. 

DUCKY: 

Why did that dude do it anyway? (To John) Why didn't he use his condom? Why are 
guys like that John, huh? 

JOHN: 

Yo, I know I'm a dude an all, but I can't speak for him. He has a mind of his own. 

DUCKY: 

(angrily) I'm about to go home. This isn't why I came, (getting up) I wanted to talk to 
ya'll. (looking around) I wanted to get it off my mind. 

CARLA: 

It's okay Ducky. We'll have to face it together. Think of how she feels. Her feelings are 
worst. 

[Telephone rings] 



313 



MEISHA: 

I got it! 

[Paula is heard offstage] 

PAULA: 

Are you busy? 

MEISHA: 

No, everyone's over here, {sensing something 's wrong) Paula are you feeling okay? 

PAULA: 

I don't know how I feel right now. Blinkie just went into the hospital this morning. Her 
mother called to let me know. 

MEISHA: 

Oh no. I can't believe it. She's going to.... DIE! 

PAULA: 

Don't say that. Miracles happen sometimes. 1 just hope one comes for her soon. 

MEISHA: 

Why don't you come over, and about what I said when we were setting up for the party, 
I'm sorry. I didn't mean for it to come out like that. You understand? 

PAULA: 

Just forget it Meisha. It Happened, it's just as matter of time and she'll soon... Look I'll 
call ya back or see you in school tomorrow, okay? 

MEISHA: 

Yeah. Okay. See ya tomorrow, bye. 

PAULA: 

Bye. {hangs up the telephone) 

CARLA: 

Who was that? 

MEISHA: 

That was Paula. 

JOHN: 

What she say? I heard you mention about what happened at the party. 



314 



MEISHA: 

Why is everyone trying to blame me? {walks away from the group) All I said was words. 
{Angrily) I didn't have sex with her. {with her back turned) I wasn't the one laying on 
my back so why don't ya'll get off my back! {exits the room.) 

CARLA: 

Yo get off her John! {girls turn towards him) How you sound coming off on my sister 
like that? Get out! 

DUCKY: 

(rises) Calm down Carla. 



CARLA: 

No! "Cause you can leave too! And do you have anything to say {looking at Tyisha) you 
can leave too! 

DUCKY: 

It's okay because we have to go anyway. Come on guys. {John and Ducky get up and 
head for the door.) 

ALL: 

Bye. 

CARLA: 

{not looking at them) Yeah. 

[Scene ends as they exit the front door.] 



315 




316 



ACT II: Scene II 
Tina's House 

[This scene takes place at the home of Tina. Manny and Tina (Martine) are in her living 
room sitting on the sofa talking. \ 

TINA: 

I had a nice time Friday night. You're a very good dancer. 

MANNY: 
Thank you. I thought about you all night. I really like you. I feel as if... I don't know... as 
if you are different from the other girls, {smiles) shy. I like that. 

TINA: 

I like you too. I'm not all that shy, really. 

MANNY: 
You're very pretty. 

TINA: 

Thank you. 



MANNY: 
I'm not going with anyone. Are you dh... {about to say virgin, he quickly catches himself 
and rephrases the sentence) seeing anyone? 

TINA: 

I...I... 

MANNY: 
Before you say anything, base your answer on the fact that I don't want you to see 
anyone else, or even think of anyone else. Just you, me and the world. That's it. 

TINA: 

{in a low whisper) No. 

MANNY: 
Was that a no? 

TINA: 

mmhum. 

MANNY: 
You've made me so happy! {he moves forward to kiss her) 



317 



TINA: 

What about you? There'll be no other right? 

MANNY: 
{with a sarcastic smile) Sure, of course not. Would I do such a thing? 

[Martine just smiles and allows him to kiss her. Scene ends.] 



318 



ACT II: Scene III 
The "J" Crew 

[Jose and his crew are seen hanging on the corner of their block in front of a variety 
store. People are seen passing by. Some going in or coming out of the store. The group 
obviously are just passing the time, bored, with nothing to do. They try to strike up a 
conversation with girls that periodically pass by.] 

MIKE: 

Yo baby, how's 'bout me and you doing the loco thing? 

GIRL: 

With you, 1 don't think so> {girl rolls her eyes and walks into store) 

SHELLEY: 

Yo mike one of these days you're gonna get smacked. 

MIKE: 

1 don't think so. (jokingly) You see I'm a lover not a fighter. 

DANA: 

{mimicking Michael Jackson) I'm a lover not a fighter. You ain't gonna get wit the ladies 
with that weak G. 

MIKE: 

Kiss my ass. {to Dana) I haven't seen you wit no girl since Janet dumped you. 

SHELLEY & JOSE: 

Oooh! Dana got dissed. 

DANA: 

Yo, I still gets mine. 

SHELLEY: 

Yeah, wit what? 

DANA: 

Your mama! That's what! 

SHELLEY: 

{shoves him playfully) Don't talk about my mom, dog! {Girl exists from store walks in 
front of group. She obviously wants to be noticed.) 

SHELLEY: 

{to Mike) Let me show you how it's done, {walks over and begins talking to the girl.) 



319 

MIKE: 

(yells to Shelley) Yo don't get slapped. 

JOSE: 

Shelley needs to slow down. 

DANA & MIKE: 

(singing) Slow down! 

DANA: 

What you talkin' 'bout. My man's getting the digits. 

JOSE: 

Yeah, I see, but he really should chill sometimes. I mean so he got the digits and yeah 
maybe be wit it. Even knockin' the boots after 'while, but is that all it's about? 

DANA & MIKE: 

Yeah, (the give each other dap and begin singing Knock the Boots) 

DANA: 

Why you always get serious when one of your boyz are getting over? Stop acting like a 
sucker, (slaps Dana five) 

MIKE: 

Maybe James is jealous 'cause he ain't gettin' none. 

DANA: 

Maybe he's going the other way? 

MIKE: 

Gooh. (Mike slaps Dana five again) 

JOSE: 

Dana you better chill wid dat. I'm serious, what are we doing. Remember Friday night? 
Mike got wit that girl Che and Dana you was wit her girl Fab. My question to both of 
you is who were they with before you? 

SHELLEY: 

(walks back over to the group holding up a slip of paper) Is the boy bad or what? 



320 




321 



ACT III: Scene I 
Manny & the Boyz 

[The scene opens with Jorge, Manny Vagner, and John talking about what they did last 
night outside of the school on the basketball court. '\ 

JORGE: 

{dribbling a basket ball) Did you get some skins last night? 

MANNY: 
I got some from that girl Tina. 

VAGNER: 

{interrupting) Stop frontin' 

JORGE: 

{chiming in) I got some too. 

JOHN: 

{Looking at Vagner and Jorge laughing) Ya'll love to lie. 



MANNY: 
Let me tell you what happened after I dropped Monie off. I went back to walk Tina 
home. No one was there so she invited me in and we started talking. Before ya know it I 
was waxing that ass. 

JORGE: 

{proudly) Check out my dogs. I guess we were the only one's who got busy. 

[Everyone smiles and laughs except John.] 

JOHN: 

{with a serious tone) Did you use a Jimmy hat? 

MANNY: 
Nope! 

VAGNER: 

{jokingly) You didn't wax it the way I do? 

MANY: 

{laughing) You can't do shit! 



322 
JOHN: 



(seriously) You better watch out. 



MANNY: 
(to John) Mind your business! {shooting basketball) I know what I'm doing. 

JOHN: 

I'm just trying to tell you to take precautions. 

JORGE: 

{Vagner laughing) That don't matter as long as my dogs are gettin' some. (Manny and 
Jorge give each other daps] 

MANNY: 
Why are you acting like this? Is h because you ain't gettin' none? 

JOHN: 

Yeah, what ever. {School Bell rings.) 

MANNY: 
I have to go to class. 



JORGE: 

{exiting) Peace out doggy dog. 

MANNY: 
{taking last shot, exiting) See ya! 

VAGNER: 

See that fine girl heading towards the lav I'll peace ya'll out. (exits) 

[Scene ends with John picking up the basketball, looks at his friends exiting, shakes his 
head and heads inside school.] 



323 



ACT III: Scene II 
Blinkie & Her Crew at the School Library 

NARRATOR: 

[From offstage] 
All of the girls that gave the party and a couple of their friends (Blinkie, Carlo, Meisha, 
Paula and Ducky) all decided to go to the library to catch up on some work, and while 
they are doing their schoolwork they start to have a very deep conversation. 

MEISHA: 

{says coldly) Blinkie did you get tested? 

BLINKIE: 

{angrily) No, I was too busy with my schoolwork. 

CARLA: 

You better forget about school and all that crap because you don't know if you have 
AIDS or not. 

DUCKY: 

I know this is nothing to be played with. It's a real serious matter. 

PAULA: 

I know that's right, I knew this girl who waited a whole year before she went to get 
tested, all because she was scared. (While the girls are talking John walks in.) 

JOHN: 

How ya'll lovely ladies doing? 

MEISHA: 

We were doing just fine until you showed up. 

JOHN: 

Listen you {Meisha interrupts) 

MEISHA: 

Don't be comin' over here starting anything cuz 1 ain't havin' it. 

JOHN: 

Who was talking to you in the first place you fat... 

CARLA: 

[Carla interrupts) You didn 't have to come over here in the first place. You came over 
here to say Hi and Bye. Don Y be comin ' over here getting smart cuz I will put a serious 
hurtin ' on you. (everybody starts saying oooh.] 



324 
JOHN: 



All right, Bye! 



DUCKY: 

Yeah, you better go because you was just getting ready to get stomped on. 

JOHN: 

Okay, well I'll see you ladies later. 

All OF THE GIRLS: 

Bye John. 

[Scene Ends] 



325 




326 



ACT III: Scene III 
Monie & Company At Her Crib 

[Scene opens at the home of Monie. She is seen talking to her girlfriends Stacey, and 
Linda about her relationship with Manny.'] 

STACEY: 

Wasn't the party pumpin' on Friday? 

LINDA: 

Sure was. Did you see them Niggas that was there? 

MONIE: 

I can't beHeve it. Did you see how Manny was staring at that bitch Tina or whatever her 
name is? 

LINDA: 

Well I'm not surprised, 'cause all boys are dogs. 

MONIE: 

People, what do you think I should do about Manny? Ya'U think I should forget about 
him? 

STACEY: 

What are you talking about, leaving Manny? I can't believe you. You gonna let some 
bitch take your man? 

LINDA: 

I know Monie, I also know it sounds stupid (retarded) to be fighting over some boy, but 
like Stacey said he's your man, you know you can't be havin' that! 

MONIE: 

You're right. I'll have to stand and get my man back. 

LINDA: 

Yeah! 

STACEY: 

So what are you gonna do 'bout it? 

MONIE: 

Well, I'm going to talk to him about it, and if he likes her then he can forget about me. 
'Cause I'm not down with sharing Niggers, so it's either me or her. 



327 



LINDA: 

Girlfriend, you should go up to that bitch's and let her know what's up. 

STAGEY: 

Yeah, he's your man! 

MONIE: 

Maybe ya'll right. It's time I fight for my man. (to Stacey) Let me ask you something. 
Did you ever have sex with him? 

STACEY: 

(proudly) Yeah. 

LINDA: 

Hum, that's just how Niggers are. They're dogs. 



328 



ACT III: Scene IV 
Dee & Company in the School Cafeteria 

[Dee and Fab are at the lunch table talking. Marie-Theresa comes running to their 

table.] 

MARIE-TERESA: 

Did you guys hear the rumor that's going around? 

FAB: 

What rumor? 

MARIE-TERESA: 

The one about Tina! 

DEE: 

Tina? 

MARIE-TERESA: 

Yeah. 

DEE: 

Do you mean the one about her being pregnant? 

MARIE-TERESA: 

Girl that's old news. I'm talking about the latest one. 

FAB: 

Well, stop playing around and tell us what it is. 

MARIE-TERESA: 

Well, remember those girls at the party? 

DEE: 

The ones that were talking all that trash? 

MARIE-TERESA: 

Yea. Anyway, I heard that they were going around saying that Tina has AIDS. 

ALL: 

AIDS!!! 

DEE: 

This time those bitches have gone too far. 



329 

FAB: 

Does Tina Know? 

DEE: 

We'll soon find out cuz here she comes. 

[Tina walks over to the table with a smile on her face.} 

TINA: 

What's up? Why do you guys look so mad? 

DEE: 

Why do you look so happy? 

TINA: 

Cuz it's a beautifiil day. 

FAB: 

Yeah, right. Fro who? 

TINA: 

For me! 

FAB: 

What's that suppose to mean? 

TINA: 

Oh nothing. 

MARIE-TERESA: 

You know, you're never told us what happened between you and that boy that you met at 
the party. 

TINA: 

What's there to tell. I'm in love. 

FAB: 

With who? 

TINA: 

Who do you think? 

FAB: 

But you just met him? 



330 



TINA: 

{smiling) Yeah, but we did more things in one night than many people do in a Hfetime. 

FAB: 

You don't even know him. 

TINA: 

We know each other INSIDE and OUT. 

DEE: 

Are you saying that you slept with him? 

TINA: 

What do you think? 

DEE: 

What I think doesn't matter. Did you or did you not sleep with him? 

TINA: 

Yea, I did. Why are you guys so upset? And what's up with all these questions? 

FAB: 

Did you hear the rumor that people are spreading about you? 

TINA: 

What rumor? Is it the one about me being pregnant? Now you know that's not true. 

MT: 

We thought that we knew, but know we're not too sure. 

FAB: 

Besides, that's not even the rumor. 

TINA: 

What is it then? 

FAB: 

People are saying that you have AIDS. 

TINA: 

I have what? 

DEE: 

AIDS. You know the disease. 



331 



TINA: 

That's crazy! How would I have gotten it? 

FAB: 

You did sleep with that guy, right? 

TINA: 

Well. ..yeah. 

MT: 

And you don't do drugs, right? 

TINA: 

Yeah. 

DEE: 

So you tell us how you could have gotten it. 

TINA: 

Are you saying that MY MAN has AIDS? 

FAB: 

You tell us. You're the one who knows him INSIDE and OUT! 

TINA: 

Are you sure about that? 

TINA: 

Yes, I am! And if you guys were really my friends, you would take my word for it and 
not go around listening to rumor. 

DEE: 

It's just that we don't want to see you get hurt. 

MT: 

Why don't you go to the hospital just to make sure. 

TINA: 

I can't believe this. The first good thing that happens to me in a very long time, and my 
friends are trying to mess it up. Thanks a lot, FRIENDS! {Tina gets up) 

DEE: 

Don't leave. We don't mean anything by it. We're just looking out for you. 

TINA: 

Well I Can look out for myself {she runs out of the cafeteria crying) 



• 332 

DEE: 



Tina come back! 

ALL: 

TINA! TINA! 

[As the bell rings they exit the cafeteria.'] 



333 



ACT IV: Scene I 
The Burke Home 

[Scene opens at the Burke home. Time has passed but the rumors at school still persist. 
However Blinkie 's situation has everyone 's total attention as they meet to offer her some 
support. Present are Carla, Ducky and Blinkie, Paula is in the adjourning room.] 

CARLA: 

How are yak doing? (Ducky just looks at her then turns away) Look, I know that I 
yelled at you for the wrong reason but I'm sorry. It's just that everyone seems to be 
getting on my sister lately. 

DUCKY: 

I don't care anymore. We all have to face the situation together. No matter what 
happens. 

CARLA: 

That's true. We know that Meisha had nothing to do with it. 

(Paula enters) 

BLINKIE: 

You know Paula, I didn't think you would be like this. I thought you would comfort me 
and tell me things would be all right and miracles do happen, but what you did scared me. 

PAULA: 

But why Blinkie? Why? You should have taken the time to think and not listen to what 
a boy tells you. 

BLINKIE: 

It's too late for what I should have done and what I shouldn't 

PAULA: 

Well maybe if you did... 

BLINKIE: 

(interrupts) Damn it Paula! Look at me, look at me! Does it matter now? It's too late 
you know. Why do you even care? Your rushing my death. You don't give a damn 
about me. We were like sisters-more than sisters and now you're turning on me. 

PAULA: 

I'm not turning on you. We're still like sisters. It's just that F, upset, I'm angry. I 
thought you were smarter than him but, but... 

BLINKIE: 

But, what Paula? 



334 



PAULA: 

Now look at you. You're dying right before my eyes and I'm dying with you. 
I feel weak each day. 

BLINKIE: 

Paula, don't say that. At least live the rest of my life where I leave off. That's the least I 
ask of you. 

PAULA: 
I'm sorry for everything I said. I was upset. I kept remembering everything we did and 
all the people we talked about. The colleges we planned to go together to and our prom 
dresses. The time you got hit by a car and all you kept saying was don't tell my mother 
just tell her I was at school. All those days we hooked and that boy we jumped. 

BLINKIE: 

But it's all gone now. No college, no prom dress, and our memories end here. 

PAULA: 

No it won't. Your memories will be with me 'till I join you. Don't go too soon. I want 
to be able to keep seeing you. 

BLINKIE: 

I'll be back. Maybe not the way I was, but in another form. 

PAULA: 

I know you will. I'll name my first bom after you. 

BLINKIE: 

I thought the moment you walked out you would never return. 

PAULA: 

I wouldn't leave you like that., I mean... 

BLINKIE: 

Its okay. 1 understand. You're gonna miss me. 

PAULA: 

Yeah, but you'll be back don't worry. 



[Scene ends with all the girls embracing.] 



335 



ACT IV: Scene II 
The "J" Crew 

[The fellahs are all gathered in Jose ' bedroom sitting around listening to music. James is 
a little distracted, obviously he has something on his mind, the others are grooving to the 
sounds.] 

DANA: 

Kriss Kross is slamming. Check it. (passes the headphones to Shelley who puts them on 
and starts bopping) 

MIKE: 

Yo James, what you think about Naughty By Nature? Are they slamming or what? 

JOSE: 

Huh! What? 

MIKE: 

I said is N.B.N, slamming or what? What's up wit you? 

JOSE: 

Huh. Oh my bag, I wasn't listening. 

MIKE: 

I can see that. What's your problem? You've been acting strange for the last couple of 
days. What's up? 

JOSE: 

Nothing man, everything's cool... 

SHELLEY: 

Yo Jose 
{Removing the headphones then holds up the tape) can I borrow this? 

JOSE: 

Yeah, that's cool. 

DANA: 

What's up wit my man? Looks to me like he's trippin' 

SHELLEY: 

Chill. Something's wrong. {To Jose) We're your boyz, what's up? 

JOSE: 

I've heard a girl at Omesha's party has AIDS. 



336 



SHELLEY: 

Your lying? And if she does so what? Why are you all bent out of shape over a rumor? 
You didn't get busy wit any of them. And I know for a fact that Mike and Dana didn't 
get any because we all went home together. Wait a minute you jetted. Where 'd you go? 

MIKE: 

Last time I saw you Friday night you were talking to Marie-Theresa. 

JOSE: 

I got wit M.T. 

SHELLEY: 

About time, I was getting a little worried about my brother. I thought you where getting 
a little funny on us. {laughs) Ain't like it was your first time. 

JOSE: 

Shelley it ain't even like that. 

SHELLEY: 

My man never got none until Friday night. 

JOSE: 

Don't sweat that, {pause) Mike what you know about the rumor? 

MIKE: 

Well talk's goin' 'round that one of the girls got AIDS. Who, I don't know? Yo, just 
forget it. I'm outta here. Later. 

DANA: 

Wait up! I'll check ya'll later. And Jose chill on that AIDS stuff all right? Peace. 

JOSE: 

That's just like them. Can't never talk about nothin' serious. Hey don't you have to go 
too? 

SHELLEY: 

No. I have time. And obviously you need to talk. So let's do this. 

[Scene ends with Shelley and Jose beginning their deep discussion.'] 



337 




338 



ACT V: Scene I 
Hospital Scene 

[Scene begins at the hospital, much time has passed. Seen at the hospital are Dee, Fab 
and Marie-Theresa, close friends of Tina's waiting in front of her room scared to go in. 
Finally they muster up enough courage to enter. Upon seeing them, Tina turns their way 
as her friend's eyes and heads turn away from her.} 

TINA: 
I take it you guys know why I am here? {still no one looks at her) You guys can look at 
me. You can't catch AIDS by looking. 

DEE: 

It's not that we can't look at you, we don't know what to say. We're just as confused 
about this situation as you are. 

TINA: 

Who says I'm confused? I got AIDS, what's so confusing about that? I'm going to die. 
Everyone dies; one of you might die before me. 

FAB: 

{beginning to cry) Why are you saying these things? 



TINA: 

Saying what? The truth? 

FAB: 

I can't take it anymore. 

[Turing her back from Tina, this situation is too much for her to bear so Fab leaves the 
room.] 

TINA: 

{disgusted) And she suppose to be the strong one! 

DEE: 

{coming over to sit on her bedside) Tina, don't do this to us, don't do this to yourself. 
Don't you know no matter what, we will always be there for you? 

MT: 

Its true! 

TINA: 

{looking away) I guess you know how I caught it? I loved him you know. I still do. 
When I told him he told me there's no way I got it from him. He refused to believe me. 
Don't you? {She lifts her heads to look at their faces.) 



339 
MT: 



Of course we believe you. 



TINA: 

{begins to cry) I'm scared. I don't know what to do. My mother is not speaking to me. 
I feel so alone so lonely! 

MT: 

You have us. 

DEE: 

We're her for you. 

TINA: 

I keep thinking, over and over, if only we had used a condom. If only I had listened to 
you, if only. ..I had waited a little longer. 

MT: 

It's not your fault. You couldn't have known. 

TINA: 

That's why I should have been protected. I was so blind. ..so in love. Look where that 
got me. 

MT: 

But you have us. Not many people are as lucky. 

FAB: 

{reenters the room speaking to Tina) Can I please talk to you alone?: 

DEE: 

We'll leave, (to FAB) We'll wait for you outside. 

[They all give Tina a hug and exit the room leaving Tina and Fab alone.] 



340 




341 



ACT V: Scene II 
The Visit 

[Jose is seen in the hospital waiting room pacing the floor, carrying flowers. Exiting 
Tina 's room is Marie-Theresa and Dee. Jose approaches the group.} 

DEE: 

What's he doing here? I hope he's not whh his stupid friends. 

MT: 

Please don't make a scene. I'll talk to him. 

JOSE: 

Hi MT., what's up Dee? I know from the looks on your faces you all don't want me here. 
But please hear me out. I overheard MT talking about Tina to you guys...MT I care about 
you and I want you to know it.. .anyway I'm here alone. I want to see her. To talk to her 
and let her know I'm her friend too! 

MT: 

I think she will like that. Wait till Fab comes out. 

[Scene shifts back to Tina 's room where we hear Fab and Tina 's conversation.] 

FAB: 

I shouldn't have left like that. I'm sorry. 

Tina: 

It's okay, I understand. 

FAB: 

I know right now you might be feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders 
and you can't take it anymore. Tina we feel bad. Hurt. We've never had this happen 
before, we don't know how to act. We need you to understand. Don't turn us away, 
Tina. Let us help you deal with it. We'll be able to learn a lot. I'm sorry this had to 
happen to you. 

TINA: 

Me too! I'm sorry for the way I acted before. Be patient with me. You'll see. Come 
gimme a hug and go home. Thank you for coming. Tell the others I said thank you. 
Don't hurt for me. Do one thing, learn from what I did and protect yourself If not for 
yourself then do it for me. 'Till we meet again, if not here then you know where. 



342 



FAB: 

Don't talk like that. 

TINA: 

Okay then. Ah... see you later? 

FAB: 

Bye-bye. {gives Tina a hug) 

TINA: 

Bye. 

[As Fab leaves the room she closes her eyes opens them as we see tears rolling down her 
cheeks.} 



343 




344 



ACT V: Scene III 
The AIDS RAP 

Tina got AIDS, she must have been crazed. 

I knew the girl was lying when she said she never been laid, 

yeah I knew it from the get go, 

she couldn't fool a female who was with the flow. 

Now when I first met Tina I knew she was a hoe 

and not a pretty little face who was good to go, 

you know what I mean, not a beauty queen but a sex feign. 

I don't buy the BS when they say it's just a black thing 

'cuz it's a world wide problem the superior topic, 

some people say Meme give it up but I won't drop it. 

I'm hangin' strong 

'cuz when the going gets tough most people are gone 

like Tina's boyfriend a deceiver, an underachiever 

when she said "He really loves me!" I believed her 

but then how in the hell-how in the hell could he leave her? 

I'm gonna tell you this story in a full description, 

Tina never had a single premonition 

as to what would happen or what would be, 

this guy named Manny said he had a remedy. 

He would lead her on up until the day 

when he asked to hit it she said "no way, 

I'm saving my love until I am grown, 

wait a minute let me use the phone." 

She called her house but no one was there 

so Manny through the gee yes he pretended to care. 

He said he loved her, he hit it and in a month or two, 

she contracted HIV from you knows who. 

You may think that this ain't fair but life is this way, 

she was a love digger but what she dug was her grave 

she lost her life and her prized jewel, both treasures 

something worth more than a one night pleasure. 

So now she's dying let's say she's living on death row 

with no one left she depends on you know 

to tell about how the story works 

or how it doesn't to anything except hurt. 

This ain't the West Side Story 

it's a worldwide story lacking glory 

because people wanta hide. 

The many many facts with the many many lies, 

it's only affects blacks is the one that I despise, 

truly so lets tell the truth, guys 

don't say I love you just to knock the boots 



345 



and girls when you say I love you say "prove it" 
and if they can't then tell them to step to it, 
to move it step back, 

because a guy on sex is like a baby on crack' 
but hey I bet you knew this-even Tina knows 
that knocking boots is, just another ordinary thing 
but she sings a sad song, a sad song she sings... 

Tina got AIDS, it wasn't a good trade 

She got laid and now she's dying of AIDS 

Passed on by the brother with the fade 

don't be amazed the girl was crazed 

with the I love word 

he said it and therefore 

he got exactly what he went for 

a sexy.. .and boy did he sex it 

they played charades but you would never have guessed it, 

unprotected should've been tested. 



346 



ACT V: Scene IV 
Manny's Visit 

[Scene opens with Manny entering Tina 's hospital room.] 

TINA: 

What the hell are you doing here? I can't believe you actually came here! Get Out! I 
don't want to see you in my face! 

MANNY: 
I just came here to see how you're doing. 

TINA: 

Look at me, look at what you put me through. At least you could have used a condom... 

MANNY: 
Hold up! It's a 50/50 relationship. You should have been woman enough to stop me and 
tell me to put on a condom. 

TINA: 

You should have been man enough to put on a condom yourself! 1 trusted you, I loved 
you and you let me down. You said you loved me... 

MANNY: 
If I didn't love you I wouldn't be here! 

TINA: 

Why'd you do this to me? 

MANNY: 
To you? I didn't do nothin' Why'd you do this to me? You better check those other 
Niggas you been wit!. 

TINA: 

What? Fuck you! What are you talking about? You know I was a virgin. 

MANNY: 

Yeah, you were a virgin with the first guy you were with! 

TINA: 

(throwing flowers from the night stand at Manny) GET THE HELL OUT! 

[Manny leave. Outside of the room Manny is seen about to turn to go back into the room, 
stops and begins to cry, then walks away... ] 



347 



ACT V: Scene V 
AIDS Rap Continues 

Now you saw their mistakes 

I think we well stressed it 

unprotected should 've been tested 

But this is not an isolated event 

the AIDS blanket should give you a hint 

on the growing number becoming bigger and bigger 

guys don't be ruthless and girls don't be love diggers 

and with this final line I end this 

until you really know someone leave it at a kiss 

or you might go home with a rather "Deadly Gift." 



(As the Rap concludes we see information concerning Blinkie flash on the screen. 
Blinkie dies of full-blown AIDS three months later after she had a little baby boy. The 
fate of the newborn child and Tina are yet to be determined. 

THE END. 



348 



Appendix C: Conflict Resolution 

Incident at Madison O^ Bryant High 

A One-Act Play about Violence 



CAST 
Rasheed 

a senior at Madison O'Bryant High School Leader of the Marlins 

Vanessa 

Rasheed' s girlfriend 

Twiz 

Leader of the Giants a rival gang 

Sashay 

Girlfriend of Twiz 

Marcus 

A member of the Marlins a neighborhood gang 

K-Cino 

A member of the Giants a rival gang 



- Germaine 

-Lucy 

-Marvin 

-Kentia 

-Olguy 

-Kenneth 



LOCATIONS 



Scene 1 Homeroom 

Early morning, first day of school 
Scene 2 Hallway 

Outside of classroom 



Scene 3 

Later that day 
Scene 4 
After school 
Scene 4 

Late that afternoon 
Scene 5 
That evening 
Scene 6 
The next day 



Lunch Room 



Rasheed's house 



The Park 



Rasheed's house 



Hallway at school 



349 



Scene 1: Homeroom 

[Scene one opens in a classroom at Madison O 'Bryant High School, an inner city school 
situated in the heart of Roxbury. It is the first day of school and students are seen sitting 
in seats and entering a homeroom class of Ms. Rodriguez, who is seen writing on the 
chalkboard. Vanessa, a best friend of Sasha during their junior year, is seated. Entering 
the classroom is Sasha.] 



Sasha: 

Vanessa, girl... what's up? 

Vanessa: 

Hey what's up? How was Florida? 

Sasha: 

It was great! I went to Orlando. ..What did you do over the summer? 

Vanessa: 

I met this dude Rasheed, who's in the twelfth grade. We met at Riverside, we went to the 
movies..., the park, good times (smiles) you know. He's 19. ..He graduates this year. He 
has a football scholarship to UCLA. You know him? 

Sasha: 

Well, I use to go out with this guy Rasheed.... and your practically describing him. 
(Notices Vanessa's jacket on the back of her chair) and what's up with the jacket? 

Vanessa: 

That' s my man ' s j acket. 

Sashay: 

So he's down with the Marlins. ..so you're down with my X? 

Vanessa: 

Well if he's your X it shouldn't matter. 

Sasha: 

Yes it does matter. 

Vanessa: 

No it doesn't! 

Sasha: 

Yes it does! . (Gets up, pushing her chair back causing it to turn over making a noise.) 



350 



Vanessa: 

(Also rises and does the same) No it don't! 



{Enters Twiz , boyfriend ofSasha, who sees the commotion and rushes to Sasha) 

Twiz: 

Sasha, Yo, yo chill... (pulling her away from Vanessa) baby chill! 

[Enters Rasheed, boyfriend of Vanessa, who sees Twiz in Vanessa 'sface arguing. He 
rushes towards them putting himself between Vanessa and Twiz] 

Twiz: 

Yo you better handle your girl. ..watch your girl or I'll... 

Rasheed: 

Get out of my face before I knock you out! 

[Ms. Rodriguez, the teacher, rushes from the blackboard at the front of the class and 
places herself between Rasheed and Twiz] 

Rodriguez: 

Rasheed outside. ..outside now! I will talk to you later. (Reluctantly Rasheed exits the 
classroom Ms. Rodriguez eye the three students.) Settle down class. Sit down. I don't 
want any more arguments from you three or you will all be suspended for three days! 
{Looking at Vanessa) Is that clear? {Vanessa nod yes, them she turns to Sasha) Young 
lady is that clear! {Sasha nods yes, she then looks at Twiz raising he voice) Is that 
CLEAR?!! 

Vanessa & Sasha: 

( Vanessa and Sasha say together) Yeah. 

Twiz: 

{reluctantly) all right (waves his hand). 

[Scene quickly cuts to black] 



351 



Scene 2: Hallway 

[Scene two begins immediately. We see Rasheed leaning against the wall with one foot 
up against it. Ms. Rodriguez enters from the classroom. \ 

Ms. Rodriguez: 

How could you do this? How could you do this? You have an opportunity to become 
somebody in Hfe... 

Rasheed: 

I don't like that punk Twiz! 

Ms. Rodriguez: 

You have a full scholarship. You have a child on the way... Think about your future. I 
want you to have an opportunity for yourself. I want you to have a chance for the best in 
life. Do you understand me? {Rasheed trying to ignore her) Do you understand me! 
{Rasheed nods his head yes.) 

(Fades to black) 



352 



Scene 3: Lunch Room 

[Scene opens, it 's later that day in the lunchroom. We see seated Sasha, to one side of 
the room, and on the other side we see Vanessa and Rasheed sitting talking. Leaning 
against the wall, on Sasha 's side is K-Cino, a member of the Giants, a rival gang of the 
Marlins. Sasha eyes Vanessa, noticing Vanessa and Rasheed holding hands and smiling 
at each other. Resentful, she takes out a pad of paper and pen and begins writing a brief 
note, periodically glancing back at the couple] 

Sasha: 

(calling to K-Cino) Yo, K-Cino..come over here! 

K-Cino: 

{walking coolly towards Sasha) Yo, yo.. what's going on? 

Sasha: 

Give this note {folds it in half and hands it to him) to that girl; over there. 

K-Cino: 

I want a favor in return. 

Sasha: 

You know how it is. 

K-Cino: 

{As he walks over to Vanessa and Rasheed he reads the note. Briefly looks at Rasheed 
then hands Vanessa the note) This is from Sasha. (he turns, looks at Rasheed and laughs 
then exits). 

Vanessa: 

{Speaking to Rasheed) Hold on, I got something to take care of. {rises and walks over to 
Sasha and slams the note down on the table) I'll be there! 

Sasha: 

If you know what's best for you! ! 

{Vanessa turns and walks back over to Rasheed.) 

Rasheed: 

What's the deal? What's up with all that? 

Vanessa: 

Don't worry about it. 



[Scene fades to black] 



353 



Scene 4: Rasheed's House 

[Scene opens at the home of Rasheed. Rasheed shortly after arriving home from school is 
seen talking on the phone in his bedroom.} 

Rasheed: 

(hearing a knock at the door) Yo, all right hold up.. .Somebody's at the door I'll call you 
back, all right? 

Marvin: 

Yo, {entering) so what's the deal with Twiz. 

Rasheed: 

I don't like that dude. 

Marvin: 

You got to take out Twiz man. 

Rasheed: 

What, are you crazy man? 

Marvin: 

No, seriously did you hear what they're saying? 

Rasheed: 

I got something coming up and I can't get into no problems. 

Marvin: 

What problems? I thought we were buddies? How you gonna punk out like that., huh? 

Rasheed: 

You know? I can't get into no problems... 

Marvin: 

What problems forget that. ..forget those problems. How you gonna play me like that? I 
though you were down with us? 

Rasheed: 

I am but you don't know what I am saying. I got to think about my kid on the way, my 
little baby, man. 1 just found out that if 1 maintain my grades and stay out of trouble I'd 
get a football scholarship. Just think about one year of playing ball I'll be set... 



354 



Marvin: 

Oh, yeah think about the kid , think about the future. (Marvin steps up into his face) And 
tomorrow you gonna be dead, dog! Because Twiz is gonna take you out! What's up 
dog? It ain't about you.. .it's about the gang. Man we've been there for you. 

Rasheed: 

I know, I know I love yawl. Man yo, you buggin'(moving trying to avoid him) Man, get 
out of my face. 

Marvin: 

Man you're a punk , dog! It's about the Marlins! I thought you were dowoi with us? 

Rasheed: 

I am... (still moving away) 

Marvin: 

I though we were brothers! Why you want to play me like that? After all that we've 
been through? We go ways back. 

Rasheed: 

Man, get out of my face! I got a lot on my mind. I got this scholarship.... 



Marvin: 

We offered you love man. ..You wouldn't be there ( making a gang hand gesture, taping 
the chest of Rasheed to symbolize brotherhood) if it weren't for us. 

Rasheed: 

But I'm saying yawls don't got the talent I got. 

Marvin: 

Man, I ain't got time for this, dog. Yo,...yo, if you don't take out Twiz he's gonna take 
you out! What about your scholarship then? After Twiz smokes you? 

Rasheed: 

What?... Huh? 

Marvin: 

You... {taping Rasheed in the chest)y on got to take him out. You got to take him out, 
dog! {Rasheed backing away) 

Rasheed: 

Man, get out of my face. 

Marvin: 

{Still approacing touching Rasheed in his chest) You got to take him out! 



355 



Rasheed: 

I ain't got the time for this. 

Marvin: 

What you ain't gonna take him out (being sarcastic) because you got family on the way 
you got a future and a bright lifer? 

Rasheed: 

Exactly! 



[Lifts his shirt and revels a gun. He removes it from his pants waist and touches the gun 
to the hand of Rasheed who immediately draws his hand away.} 

Rasheed: 

{Startled) Where 'd you get that gun? 

Marvin: 

Huh? Don't worry about it. Never mind about that touch it. {Again drawing his hand 
back, Rasheed avoids contact with the gun) It's all yours, dog. It's all yours man. All 
you got to do is take Twiz out. all right? You down with us? 



Rasheed: 

Man, get that gun out of here! How you gonna bring a gun in my crib? I don't know 
about smoking' anybody. 

Marvin: 

What do you mean you don't know? {pointing to the gun) You gorma do it or what? We 
always got your back! 

Rasheed: 

Hold up, hold up... yawl wasn't there when I was training, was yawl?... Hold up, hold up... 
yawl wasn't there when I was playing was yawl? 

Marvin: 

You wouldn't be in this position if it weren't for us! Why are you now punkin' out? 

Rasheed: 

I am not punkin' out, I just don't want to do this. ..I got a lot of things on my mind. 



356 



Marvin: 

All right, all right.. .chill. ..I know you got your girl, your baby's coming (tries to calm 
Rasheed down) you better.. .it's cool, it's cool. ..but your not gorma let him punk you, 
right? 

Rasheed: 

Sure, {Staring out in space) Twiz ain't gonna punk nobody. 

Marvin: 

And you're definitely gonna take him out , right? 



Rasheed: 

I don't know about this? 

Marvin: 

What do you mean you don't know about it? All right, I'll give you some time to think 
about it. ..remember.. .(pointing to him) we like family {again gestures the sign of the 
gang). Remember that dog. {Marcus exits) 

[Fade to black] 



357 



Scene 5: The Park 

[Scene opens later that afternoon. We see Sasha and two of her girl friends in the park 
smoking cigarettes and talking, and laughing. A moment later Sasha 's two friends wave 
good-bye to her and leave. ] 

Sasha: 

Oh, {glancing at her watch) she's scared, she's late. 

[enters Vanessa who approaches Sasha very cautiously, looking around to see if anyone 
else is there. ] 

Vanessa: 

I'm here, now what! 

Sasha: 

So what's up with that? You're messing with my man... 

Vanessa: 

He's not your man, he's your X! 

Sasha: 

I still have feelings for him. ..and I am going to get him back. And I know I can! 

Vanessa: 

(frustrated) So what about Twiz? Ain't he your man? 

Sasha: 

Forget Twiz...l don't care about him. 

Vanessa: 

But there's no way your gonna get him back... because I am having his baby. 

Sasha: 

(pauses, crosses her arms) What?. ..your lying to me? 

Vanessa: 

You want to see the test? 

Sasha: 

So you just did it to keep him? 

Vanessa: 

It's not something I planned it just happened. We were friends... what happened... just 
because he's your X boyfriend... 



358 



Sasha: 

(angrily) I don't want to hear it! You better watch your back.. .I'm gonna get to him. 

Vanessa: 

Your gonna have to hear it because your not going to have him back. (Sasha angrily 
stares at Vanessa) Well we met in June. I few weeks later we had sex... I got pregnant... 



Sasha: 

Don't you know how to use protection? 



Vanessa: 

We weren't thinking about it at the time. 

Sasha: 

(raising her voice) See how stupid you are! That's why you're not going to get to keep 
him and I'm going to get him back. 

Vanessa: 

You keep saying your going to get him back. How? How do you think your going to do 
that? He doesn't like you anymore. He dumped you for a reason. He is not going to get 
back with you! 

Sasha: 

Yes he will, just wait and see. (walks away in a huff saying to herself) I got something 
for you and your baby and that stupid college scholarship. 

[fade to black.] 



359 



Scene 6: Rasheed Home 

[Scene opens we see Marcus, a close friend of Rasheed who is also a member of the gang 
the Marlins, drinking and smoking marijuana as he walks towards Rasheed' s house.} 

Marcus: 

{Talking to himself) How come Rasheed got all the hook up? I can play ball too! 
{finishes his drugs and alcohol and proceeds to Rasheed' s home and rings the bell. 
Scene cuts and changes to the bedroom of Rasheed. It is a little while later, Marcus is 
there, playing with a football in his hand, he is seen talking to Rasheed.) 

Marcus: 

What's that I hear about your girl in the park man? The Giants are 'dis'ing' us man. 

Rasheed: 

You're lying... 

Marcus: 

The Giants are 'dis'ing' us...Yo you got to be down with the gang, man. You got to be 
down with.... 

Rasheed: 

Yo, I got to maintain my future. I can't hear that. 

Marcus: 

Your future is us man! We're the only family you got! We're the only ones that really 
matter man. Yo, Rasheed you're my boy right? 

Rasheed: 

Yeah. 

Marcus: 

Well since you're my boy you should just. ...don't be a professional. ..don't take the 
scholarship. Just maintain in the streets. 



Rasheed: 

What do you mean? That's my future. 

Marcus: 

Well you got to be down with the gang. You got to think of the Marlins, (as he exits he 
says to himself) If he don't do, it then I will. 

Ifade to black.] 



360 



Scene 7: Hallway At School 

[Scene opens in the hallway near a stairwell at school. This location, a bit isolated is a 
place that Sasha has asked Rasheed to meet her at, hoping to reestablish her relationship 
with him. She is seen pacing back and forth, enters Rasheed.] 

Sasha: 

Hey, Rasheed {they Hug) how are you doing? We going to get back together? 

Rasheed: 

Nah, I aheady got a shorty....! got a girl, I got a kid on the way, you know.. .everything's 
going great. 

Sasha: 

So, but it don't matter. 

Rasheed: 

What? 

Sasha: 

We can still kick it. 

Rasheed: 

No, we can be friends but.. .that kick it stuff, it ain't happening. 

Sasha: 

Come on now, we can go out. You still love me? 

Rasheed: 

You don't love me. When I was in the hospital laying down, yo, you wasn't even there 
for me. She was there! You know what I'm saying? All you wanted me for was my loot 
and my fame. That's all! 

Sasha: 

Oh, so it's like that? So your diss'ing me? 

Rasheed: 

Yeah, it's like that! See Vanessa was there for me, you see we're tight. I'm saying 
everything okay. 

Sasha: 

Who are you yelling at? 

Rasheed: 

I'm yelling at you! You saying my girl ain't nothing, talkin' 'bout my baby and 
stuff ...that ain't cool. 



361 



Sasha: 

I'm saying, you understand...! want to go out with you. I think we got something. 

Rasheed: 

Your cut ,m your cut! 

Sasha: 

I don't want to hear it. 

Rasheed: 

Your cut, your cut.. .Your old news, your bad news. ..Your no more. Your garbage. 

Sasha: 

I'm saying if you don't go back out with me. ..I'm gorma beat your girl's ass. 

Rasheed: 

{steps closer to her where he is now in her face) What? You talking about beating my 
girl up? 

Sasha: 

You heard what I'm saying! 



Rasheed: 

You better shut up! 

Sasha: 

Don't be telling me to shut up! 

[At the same time this argument is starting Twiz is walking down the corridor. He as well 
as other students hear the commotion and between Sasha and Rasheed. And begin to 
move towards them.] 

Twiz: 

(to Rasheed in his face ) Yo you better watch your mouth. Don't be rolling up on her like 
that! You know better! 

[Seen in the crowd is K-Cino about to step in to aid Twiz but out from the crowd appears 
Marcus who pulls out a gun, causing K-Cino to freeze and raise his hands. Marvin 
proceeds towards Twiz and Rasheed startling both of them by pointing the gun to Twiz 's 
head. The crowd freezes in fear.] 

Marcus: 

Back off, back off. 



362 



Rasheed: 

{Pleading to Marcus) Yo Marcus. ..( In an attempt to stop Marvin, Rasheed reaches for 
the gun and begins to tussle with Marcus for control of it. A shot is heard and Rasheed 
and Marcus falls to the floor. A moment later Marcus rises above Rasheed who is not 
moving.) 

Marcus: 

{Holding Rasheed in his arms, he begins to cry.) No!.... No! 



[fade to black] 



363 



Epilogue: Students Responses 

[Scene opens with close ups of students sitting around in a classroom, each commenting 
to each other on the play and what should happen to end the story. The Narrator, who is 
probably their teacher but is not seen, is heard asking the group about the play that they 
just experienced. They all turn in the direction of the teacher.} 

Narrator: 

Now that we have seen the story all of you created, what do you think about it? {There is 
a brief pause, no one responds.) Here is your opportunity to make adjustment. For 
example: So Marcus pulled out a gun and accidentally shot Rasheed... Is that the only 
way it should end? There could be ten different things that could happen. What needs to 
be adjusted here? What would you do if you were in this situation? You all are the 
writers... {Students look at each other.) I'm just telling you that right now they just did 
this violent act, and it is going to happen more and more in school if something is not 
done! I am going to go around the room and you tell me what needs to be adjusted? 

Student 1: 

I think Marcus should just show Twiz the gun. Like, Yo, you better back up before you 
get shot. 

Narrator: 

So drawing the gun out to show it would be motivation enough for kids to back up? 

Student 1: 

Yeah! 

Narrator: 

{Turning to student #2) What do you think should happen? 

Student #2: 
They're just standing in the hz\hN3iy ...{shrugs her shoulders, expressing that she does not 
know.) 

Narrator: 
So do you want to change locations?. ..Do you want to just have them stand up?... Just 
brainstorm right now... Just think about it... How about you? 

Student #3: 

I think that they should first like fight and then he (Marvin) should kill him. 

Narrator: 

So why should Marvin shoot Twiz? Why does he want to shoot Twiz so bad? 

Student #3 

{Beginning to act out her part again) Because he's a Giant and I'm a Marlin! He can't be 
disrespecting me! Telling me to get the gun out of his face! 



364 



Narrator: 

What's the reasoning behind the violence? So why do you want him to kill so bad? 
You're going to kill Twiz because Rasheed doesn't want kill him? 

Student # 3 

(In the role of Marcus) I want to kill him for the fun of it! 

Narrator: 

You're going to kill him for the fun of it? 

Student #3: 

{Changing back to the student) Naw!... 

Student #4 
{Interrupts) No! Shot him in the leg or something... 

Student #3: 

{Agreeing) Yeah, that's what I'm saying! 

Narrator: 

Why do you want to inflict violence? Why do you want to hurt somebody? Think about 
violence. ..we are talking about violence in the school. Is anyone thinking about that at 
all? {Turning to another student) What adjustment you think needs to be made? 

Student #5: 

Every time Twiz comes in he's rushing from the door.. .He's always rushing in. That 
ain't right. He should be coming from a firm place or something. 

Narrator: 

Very good point made! Maybe next time Twiz comes from. ..and I'll use your words, a 
firm place or position. Your character shouldn't have to be rushing in all the time. He 
should be coming in from a firm or fixed point. We should see him walking in or coming 
in talking using his voice rather than his actions as a means of interrupting the violence 
earlier in the drama? 

Student #5: 
Yes, but I think that when Twiz has the gun pointed at him, he should get shot. 

Narrator: 

Twiz or Rasheed should get shot? 

Student #5: 

Rasheed. They were wrestling or what ever and then Marcus accidentally shot him. And 
Rasheed dies and everything is messed up and it should end right there. 



365 



Student #4: 
{Interrupts) No! I still think he should bet shot in the knee! 

Narrator: 

So it messes up his whole future. ..his scholarship... he gets shot in the knee or 
something... 

Student #5: 

No! 

Narrator: 

So help me follow this...Rasheed is accidentally shot by Marcus who was trying to shoot 
Twiz...Wait. Who wants Rasheed to Die? {The majority of students raise their hands) 
And who wants Twiz to die? {Only one raises his hand) This is a good point that you're 
making. You all want Rasheed, one of the main characters, who has the most at stake 
here in this play to die. What's the moral point that you want to get across? Remember 
the morals that were generated and discussed at the beginning? We were talking about 
Violence, and there was a theme, there was a message that you all wanted to get across? 
Here is my question, simply put... By Rasheed being killed what statement does that make 
in this play about violence? (Students debate for a moment as to why Rasheed should be 
shot.) 



Student #1: 

Violence is not good because you could kill someone that you don't intend to kill. 

Student #2: 

Rasheed had a lot going for him because he was about to go to college and because of 
that gang stuff he got killed. 

Narrator: 

So it was a senseless act, an urmecessary death. 

Student #3: 
I think Rasheed shouldn't get killed. We always see the good one killed off in the movies. 

Narrator: 

What about the fact that students can get guns into the schools? Is it that easy? 

Students: 

Yeah! 

Narrator: 

{Turning to each student) Have you seen a gun in your school? 



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Students 

(All students nodding in agreement) Yes! 

Narrator: 

How many times? 

Student #2: 

A number of times. 

Narrator: 

Do a lot of students bring guns in the school? 

Student #3: 

Yeah, I even sawed-off shotgun! 

Narrator: 

Why would a student bring a shotgun to school and not a notebook? 

Student: 

(in unison) Ooh. (There is a pause as student's thing about the issue of guns in school.) 

Student #2: 
(Bursts out, smiling) 1 know! We find out that Rasheed is not dead! He's in a hospital. 
He just injured, has a few broken bones. ..he was wounded very badly but he recovers. 
Marcus is arrested and sent to prison for 10 to 13 years. K-Cino, he was in a treatment 
center because he was in shock about what had happened. ..so he needs treatment. Sasha, 
she found a new boyfriend. She broke up with Twiz and found a good man and got 
married. What happened to Vanessa was she became a lawyer and she became a movie 
star and Rasheed later became a football star at UCLA. 

Student #3: 

(In agreement) Yeah, Sasha gets married and is living a very happy life. She has kids but 
she still thinks about Rasheed. But Vanessa is a widow. She had a baby who is now 5 
years old now. She is mad at Sasha and they don't talk anymore. Marcus is in prison he 
ruined his life. 

Narrator: 

What happens to Marcus in prison? And what happens to the gang? 

Student # 4: 

When Marcus gets out of prison he gets back with the gang as its leader and kills Twiz in 
revenge. He is arrested and then he goes back to prison for life. His life is ended like 
that! 



367 



Narrator: 

So all right. It seems gang fights are always about somebody getting revenge. It seems 
to be a never-ending cycle. Thank you for sharing your ideas. 

[Fade to Black] 

End 



368 



Appendix D: Educational Outreach Project 

Presentation to selected city of Boston and METCO Program Middle and High 
Schools Students In conjunction to the national tour's Boston performances of: 

BRING IN 'DA NOISE, BRING IN 'DA FUNK 
Dance-Musical's Educational Outreach Project: 

Bring In Da Kids 

(Based on the Study Guide written by Kimberly Flynn) 

Introduction 

Narrator: 

Bring In 'Da Noise, Bring In 'Da Funk isn't a show like any other you've seen. Like 
others, this one began with an idea-an idea that the director George C. Wolfe and the 
dance Savion Glover had about rhythm, culture, and a new kind of tap dancing, and how 
these might intersect and inform each other. Their collaboration resulted in Noise/Funk, 
a show that they like to call "a tap/rap discourse on the staying power of the beat." 

Voice # 1: 

Unlike most shows, everything in Noise/Funk - the dancing, the music, the script - was 
created from scratch by a group of artists who gathered during the Summer of 1995 in a 
rehearsal room. They sat around a table and talked about history, about all the 
information their researcher, Shelby Jiggetts, had gathered, and also about information 
each of them brought to the table: information about the history of African Americans, 
starting from the Middle Passage - which is what historians have come to call the 
transporting of slaves from Africa to America - all the way through to African American 
life in the '90s. 

Voice # 2: 

George, Savion and the company wanted to make a play about tap, a form of dancing, 
and full of history that is difficult and complicated. Tap has stories to tell: but to get it to 
start talking, a new way of combining words and dance and theatre had to be found. So 
these artists didn't say let write a show. They said to each other. Let's bring it in! To 
bring it in, is not just to show up with it, but also to deliver the goods. What have they 
brought? 

Voice # 3: 

'Da Noise: "Noise" has usually been used to refer to sounds that are annoying, 
meaningless, but noise is important. History rarely happens in silence. So this word has 
been reclaimed and turned around - now noise is about being full of meaning, of pleasure, 
of power, of a Beat. 

Voice # 4: 

'Da Funk: "Funk" probably comes from "lu-Funki", a word in the African Ki-Kongo and 
Bay Kongo Languages meaning "the smell of sweat." In 1939, the great jazzman Jelly 



369 



Roll Morton put the word "flinky" into popular circulation. Now it means "not cleaned 
up, not stripped down." Funk is nitty-gritty and sophisticated, something real. Speaking 
about his choreography, Savion Glover said, "My funk is a groove you can ride - but it's 
got to be a deep groove. 

Voice # 5: 

Savion and George's subtitle for the show is "A Tap/Rap Discourse on the Staying Power 
of the Beat." Let's unpack this phrase. A discourse is a way of talking about something, 
and also a way of thinking about it. The beat is a pulse, a double pulse, like a heartbeat. 
It's what you get live from history as it's happening and what you give back; the beat is 
what's hitting you, and it's you hitting back. Massive forces of history sweep through the 
lives of ordinary people, who are then challenged to remake their lives and their 
identities. The beat is the noise of life in the times. The beat keeps time. The beat is the 
medium and the message. 

Voice # 1: 

So that's what they bring, 'Da Noise, 'Da Funk, the beat. And you, the audience bring: 

Voice # 2: 

'Da Critic! You've heard the saying "Everyone's a critic!" The purpose of this 
presentation is to make each of you critics. Don't just be a consumer of culture; ask 
yourselves: how does a work of art - a play, a painting, a movie, and a song do its work 
on you? 

Voice # 3: 

The structure of the show happens in real time. In a show that deals with history, it's also 
the way the show talks about time. When you think and talk about African American 
history and how it is presented consider the following: 

Voice # 4: 

If time is a line that has no beginning and no end that we can foresee, how do we tell 
history? 

Voice # 5: 
If a history is made of uncountable moments, each connected to the other, what do you 
choose to tell and what do you omit? 

Voice # 1: 

If "official" American history is the story of presidents and wars and the building of 
cities, what and who are not included? 



Narrator: 

The historian is the storyteller who makes choices. The storytellers of the history 
presented in Noise/Funk choose to tell the progress of a people in many movements: the 
task of emancipation for the people on the ground. 



370 



Voice # 1: 

This is a lot of ground to cover, and Noise/Funk covers it with only five dancers, two 
drummers, a singer, and a rapper (whose character name in the show is '"Da Voice") - 
together they bring the beat across three centuries. 

Voice # 2: 

One of the first things you'll hear, in the opening sequence, "Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring 
in 'Da Funk," are a list of names. Throughout the show, characters of 'Da Voice and 'Da 
Singer will conjure up multitudes of people who made and were made by this history. 
How did the various languages of words, images, music and movement in Noise/Funk 
grab you? 

Voice # 3: 

If you don't catch each name presented when you see the show don't worry. Any good 
night in the theatre should fill you with more information than you can handle sitting in 
your seat. Besides, you have an edge, today we will take you on a journey with us as we 
explore a portion of the history of African Americans in the United States. 

Voice # 4: 

We will fill you in on some of the who's who - short biographies of persons that will be 
mentioned in the show - 

Voice # 5: 

and we'll also suggest ways in which you can research related subjects further as you 
prepare for the performance. 



371 



In 'Da Beginning: 

The Middle Passage 

Narrator: 

The African Slave Trade began in 1441 and lasted for four hundred years. Western 
Europeans began capturing people from Africa's West Coast, sending them to Caribbean 
islands which were basically slave-training camps; these people were then transported 
again, originally to Europe, and eventually to the American colonies. This forced 
transport of Africans away from their home continent is called the Middle Passage. 

Voice # 1: 

More than 14 million slaves were transported alive to America. 

Voice # 2: 

For every 100 Africans that survived the Middle Passage, 400 others died from disease, 
starvation, trauma, or torture, 

Voice # 3: 
or were killed by their captors. Some committed suicide. 

Voice # 4: 

The slave trade involved the largest forced migration of a people in the history of the 
planet. Historians estimate that some 50 million people were lost to death and slavery. 

Narrator: 
To morally and legally justify slavery slave owners and slave traders had to create a 
belief system that would justify one group's oppression of another and maintain the 
'status quo.' 

Opposing View: 

"Slavery has ever been the stepping ladder by which countries have passed from 
barbarism to civilization. ..divisions of mankind into grades. ..constitutes the very soul of 
civilization; and the more those grades are in a country, the more highly civilized may we 
expect to find 
it." 

Narrator: 

In the early days of the antislavery movement, most of its leaders believed in 
nonviolence. They thought that they could win freedom for the slaves by a revolution in 
public opinion, rather than with swords and guns. There were always a few men, like 
David Walker who disagreed. 

David Walker: 

[looking at laborers - then turns and talks] 
"Can our condition be any worse? Can it be more mean and abject? If there are any 
changes, will they not be for the better, though they may appear for the worst at first? 
Can they get us any lower? Where can they get us?. ..The Indians of North and South 
America - The Greeks - The Irish - The Jews - in fine, all the inhabitants of the earth 



372 



(except however, the sons of Africa) are called men, and of course are, and ought to be 
free. But we (coloured people) and our children are brutes!... and of course are, and ought 
to be slaves to the American people and their children forever!... to dig their mines and 
work their farms; and thus go on enriching them from one generation to another with our 
blood and our tears!... 

NO!... How would they like for us to make slaves of, and hold them in cruel slavery, and 
murder them as they do us?. ..I ask you, had you not rather be killed than to be a slave to a 
tyrant, who takes the life of your mother, wife and dear little children?. ..answer God 
almighty; and believe this, that it is no more harm for you to kill a man who is tying to 
kill you, than it is for you to take a drink of water when thirsty.. .The greatest riches in all 
America have arisen from our blood and tears... 

We must and shall be free! God will deliver us. And woe, woe, will be to you if we have 
to obtain our freedom by fighting. Throw away your fears and prejudices then, and treat 
us like men, and we will like you more than we do now hate you... You are astonished at 
my saying we hate you? For if we are men we cannot but hate you, while you are 
treating us like dogs." 

• About names 

Narrator: 

We hear the names of slave ships. Loose records were kept of the number of slaves 
transported, but we do not have any record of their names. These are lost to us. 

Voice # 1 : 

What's in a name, what kinds of information do names contain? 

What does this loss of the names of those who perished in the Middle Passage and those 

who lived as slaves tell us about the status of human beings under slavery? 

Voice # 2: 

Names and naming have been important issues throughout African-American history. 

Voice # 3: 
Frederick Douglass (18 17?- 1895), the great writer and orator, who was bom into slavery 
and escaped, was called Frederick Bailey at birth - his mother's master's last name. After 
his escape he changed his name twice, once to Johnson, and then finally to Douglass, a 
name pulled from a novel by Sir Walter Scott. 

Voice # 4: 

Malcolm X (1925 - 1965) was originally bom Malcolm Little. What do you think 
Malcolm's reasons were for changing his last name to X? 



373 

• Slave narratives 

Narrator: 

The middle passage and the hfe of slaves have been called an "unsayable horror" because 
there are some evils so terrible that words carmot describe them. There will always be a 
part of any holocaust, such as the Middle Passage, so full of pain, terror and death that it 
must remain shrouded in silence, as lost to us as the names of the victims. But there is 
also a powerful need for those who survive such experiences to speak about them. Here 
is what Henry Louis Gates Jr., a scholar of African American history and culture has 
written on this subject: 

Henry Louis Gates Jr.: 

The impulse to compose a narrative of the experience of slavery was uniquely felt by 
African Americans in bondage. No other group of slaves anywhere, at any other period 
in history, has left such a large repository of testimony about the horror of becoming the 
legal property of another human being. 

Voice # 1: 

On such testimony was left by an African named Olaudah Equiano, who was kidnapped 
in 1765, at the age of 11, and sold as a slave. He endured the Middle Passage and was 
eventually sold to a British sea captain who renamed him Gustavus Vassa. 



Voice # 2: 

Olaudah learned to read and write in English. In 1789 he published The Interesting 
Narrative of The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustav Vassa, the African, Written by 
Himself. 

Voice # 2: 
Notice that he gives two of his names, but also identities himself as "the African." 

Olaudah Equiano: 

The first object, which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast, was the sea, and a 
slave ship, which was then riding at anchor and waiting for its cargo. These filled me 
with astonishment, which was soon converted into terror when I was carried on board...! 
was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits and they were going to 
kill me. 

I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils 
as I had never experienced in my life; so that with the loathsomeness of the stench and 
the crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat... I now wished for 
the last friend, death, to relieve me. ..On my refusing to eat (two of the white men) tied 
my feet (and) fiogged me severely. I had never experienced anything of this kind before, 
and although, not used to the water, I naturally feared that element the first time I saw it, 
yet nevertheless could I have got over the nettings I would have jumped over the side... 



374 



• A Diaspora 

Narrator: 

Olaudah describes his personal experience of the forced exiling of masses of African 
people. It had been going on for three hundred years when Olaudah was enslaved, and 
would continue through the end of slavery one hundred years later. 

Voice #1: 

The exile and wandering is called a Diaspora. Diaspora (Di-as-por-a) is a Greek word 
meaning "dispersed," and it's used to refer to a scattering of a people, usually driven 
from their homeland by violent means. 

Voice # 3: 

Diaspora is a tragedy, a great injustice. 

Voice # 4: 

Incredible suffering accompanies diasporic people, as well as a yearning for a return to 
their homeland, or a search for a new, safe home. 

Voice # 5: 

But in the process of any diaspora, human identities - cultures, languages, our sense of 
who we are - are re-shaped, re-made. 



Voice # 1: 

To adapt to a drastically changed circumstance, people in exile re-invent themselves. 

Voice # 2: 

This is certainly true of the African Diaspora - the people whose story is told in Bring In 
'Da Noise, Bring In 'Da Funk. 

Som'thin' From Nuthin': 

Life during slavery 

[Poem: / hear the Drums by David D. Coleman II] 

Voice # 1: 

I hear the drums and they move me. 

Sweet rhythmic patterns beat my heart. 

Faint ..., at a distance, 

I hear my people come. 

What a surprise! 

They welcome me back, 

as if gone yesterday. 

I have traveled centuries. 

And now, I return. 



375 



My spirit, hear me! 

And let my people know, 

I... am... back. 



• They stole our drum 

Narrator: 

In 1739, a group of 20 slaves, despite harsh conditions and diverse languages, made a 
plan with slaves from adjoining plantations to run away on a Sunday morning when their 
masters were at church. 

Voice # 1: 

In their nearly successful attempt to escape from slavery, they stole weapons, killed 
several planter families, and started out from South Carolina. 

Voice #2: 

Drumming out a steady beat and calling out "Liberty!" they recruited others. 

Voice # 3: 

As many as 100 rebels headed towards the Spanish-controlled Florida territory where 
they would be free. 

Voice # 4: 

The white militia captured them and killed many of them on the banks of the Stono 
River. 

Voice # 5: 
Had this rebellion succeeded, it would have changed the course of history. 

Narrator: 

After the Stono Rebellion, the South Carolina legislature confiscated all drums belonging 
to slaves, and declared it a crime to teach slaves to read. Other states followed suit. 

Voice # 1 

I hear the drums, and they've changed me. 

Swept me off my feet. 

Warm..., the feeling from within, 

has captured my soul. 

How good it feels! 

To be back home 

as if, I have never left. 

The love still flows, and grows. 

The end of my journey, 

is the beginning, of my rebirth. 

My spirit, hear me! 



376 



And let the world know, 
I. ..am. ..back. 

• Alliteration and assonance 

Narrator: 

From the Stono Rebellion, throughout the centuries of slavery, the beat has drowned out 
the attempts to silence it. When it can't be sounded on a drum, the beat pulses through 
dance, and song, and language - for language too has a beat. 

Voice # 1: 

For instance, look at a few lines from "Som'thin' from Nuthin':" 

Voice # 2: 

They done stole our drum now where 'da beat 
Best listen up cuz I ain't gone repeat 

Voice # 3: 

Beat be gettin' beat on a hot pickin' day 

Day layin' on Hi John 'Da Conqueror 

'Ta make 'da pain go way 

Voice # 4: 

Zig-zaggin' braids upside Sessy's nappy haid 

Be our ancestors spirits laffm' 

"Doe 'dey bones is stone cold dead 

Voice # 5: 
Beat be our boots all broke down and torn 
Scapin' thru 'de swamp in 'de early mom 

Voice # 1: 

Beat be 'da beat singin' rhythm to our feet 

Make a sad soul right happy 

Be 'da way 'dat we speak 

Narrator: 

Beats be 'da beat singing rhythm to our feef This sentence, spoken in the show is an 
example of two kinds of rhythm in language: alliteration, which is using the same 
consonants repeatedly in a line (Beats be 'da beat), and assonance, which is doing the 
same thing with vowel sounds (Beats be "da beat) - producing a percussive, rhythmic 
punch, producing the beat. 

Voice # 2: 
All cultures depend on rhythm, on the pulse of history. 



377 



Voice # 3: 

Culture is about a people's art, but culture is also its sense of the world, its customs, its 
laws, and its expectations for life. 

Voice # 4: 

Culture is the way a people remembers, and passes on all it has received from the past, 
and all it has learned from the present, to future generations, as progress, both good and 
bad, is rolling ahead. 



379 



Robert Johnson: 

"The crossroads was where you sold your soul to the devil in exchange for a style and 
virtuosity nobody could touch." 

Narrator: 

Mahalia Jackson in a Time Magazine article June 28, 1968 said when asked what is the 
blues... 

Voice # 1: 
Blues - It started... with the moans and the groans of people in the cotton fields. Before it 
got the name of soul, men were sellin' watermelons and vegetables on a wagon drawn by 
a mule, hollerin" 

Voice # 2: 
"watermelon" 

Voice # 3: 

with a cry in their voices. And the men on the railroad tracks layin' crossties - every 
time they hit the hammer it was with a sad feelin', but with a beat. 

Voice # 4: 

And the Baptist preacher - he the one who had the soul - he gives out the meter, a long 
and short meter, and the old mothers of the church would reply. This musical thing has 
been here since America has been here. This is trial and tribulation music. 

• Migration North: Chicago Bound 

Voice # 1: 

Dear Sir, I am writing you in regards to present conditions in Chicago in getting 
employment...! lost my wife a few years ago. I have been here all my life and would like 
to go somewhere where I could properly educate my children so they can be of service to 
themselves when they gets older, and I can't do it here. 

Narrator: 

The Summer of 1919 became known as the Red Summer - red as in blood-red - when 
violent incidents we now call "bias crimes" (mostly whites firebombing black 
neighborhoods) sparked riots in 25 American cities. The most severe took place in 
Chicago. 

Voice # 2: 

The riot began when Eugene Williams, a black teenager accidentally swam up to a 
whites-only beach. 

Voice # 3: 
Stoned by people on the beach, the boy drowned in Lake Michigan trying to flee the 
attack. 



380 



Voice # 4: 

After police reftased to arrest his assailants (but arrested a Black man on minor charges), 
fighting broke out through out the city. 

Voice # 5: 

The riot spread and raged for 13 days, in spite of the presence of the state militia, and in 
its wake, 38 people had died, 537 were injured, and firebombings left over 1,000 Black 
families homeless. 

• Nations 

Narrator: 

There has been an ongoing tension for African Americans between being members of a 
diasporic people and citizens of a nation, between looking for a place where they belong 
and wanting to belong right where they are. 

Voice: 1 

A nation is sometimes, but not always, the same as a country. 

Voice: 2 

A nation can also be a symbolic union of people who share a common identify or 
common goals. What kind of nation has been envisioned in: 

Voice: 3 

The Back-To-Africa movement of Marcus Garvey? 

Voice: 4 

Black nationalism of the Black Panthers? 

Voice: 5 

The Nation of Islam? 

Voice: 1 

The Hip-Hop Nation? 



381 

• The Jazz Age 

Narrator: 

The years after the end of World War 1 in America, from the '20s leading up to the Great 
Depression of the '30s, are called the Jazz Age. The term "Jazz" was used loosely in 
New York and elsewhere in the 1910s and 1920s to cover everything from ragtime to 
T.S. Eliot's Waste Land. 

Voice # 2: 

From Tin Pan Alley Tunes to what we now think of as jazz proper - 

Voice # 3: 

the music of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong and their peers 

Voice # 4: 

As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "The Jazz Age," the age was black. Jazz like the dances it 
spawned, like its predecessor ragtime and its companion the blues, was the creation of 
America's Negro population... 

Voice # 5: 

and white urban Americans wanted to go right to the source to get more of it. 



Narrator: 



Langston Hughes once said: " 



Langston Hughes: 

Jazz is such a happy music because it was bom out of such great sadness. Its rhythms of 
joy grew from the heartbreak of sorrow for it was bom of bondage... The music itself, for 
all its gaiety, remembered Africa, the ships of the middle passage, whips, chains, 
bloodhounds, the slave markets. ..So the rhythms of Congo Square in New Orleans 
became the first sad-happy rhythms, destined to set the tempos of American Jazz." 

• Harlem Renaissance 

Narrator: 

The center of the Jazz Age entertainment was in Harlem, New York City, in the 
immensely popular nightclubs where dancing and music infused both white and black 
patrons with the beat. Harlem was also the setting for the Harlem Renaissance, an 
explosion of creativity and accomplishment on the African American literary and artistic 
scene. During the "Renaissance" (a word meaning "re-birth"), many writers who are 
now considered among the most important in America's literary heritage began their 
careers 



382 



Voice # 1: 

Claude McKay (1889-1948), a Jamaican by birth, came to the United States in 1912 and 
experienced the inferior status in which blacks were placed in America. Unable to secure 
a job above a menial position despite his two published books of poetry and two years of 
study at Kansas State University, McKay began to work as a freelance writer producing 
poetry, which expressed his outrage at the indignities he continually suffered. 

Voice # 2: 

His poem "If We Must Die" (1919) and two volumes of verse, Spring in New Hampshire 
(1920) and Harlem Shadows (1922) signaled the beginning of the "New Negro 
Movemenf or the Harlem Renaissance." 



Poem "If We Must Die" 

If we must die, let it not be like hogs 

Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, 

While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs. 

Making their mock at our accursed lot. 

If we must die, O let us nobly die. 

So that our precious blood may not be shed 

In vain; then even the monsters we defy 

Shall be constrained to honor us through dead! 

O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe! 

Though far outnumbered let us show us brave. 

And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow! 

What though before us lies the open grave? 

Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack. 

Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back! 

Narrator: 

James Mercer Langston Hughes (1902-1967) had his first poem and perhaps his best- 
remembered verse, "The Negro Speaks Of Rivers," published shortly after graduating 
from high school. His college work was interrupted by an extended trip to Africa and 
Europe, which he financed by working in each place he visited. 

Voice # 3: 

Returning to the United States, he continued his education and began publishing more 
works, which earned him the title "poet laureate of Harlem" and a leading position in the 
Harlem Renaissance. 



383 



Poem "The Negro Speaks Of Rivers" 

I've known rivers: 

I've known rivers ancient as the world and 

older than the flow of human blood in human veins. 

My soul has grovra deep like the rivers. 

I bathed in the Euphrates 

when dawns were young. 

I built my hut near the Congo 

and it lulled me to sleep. 

I looked upon the Nile 

and raised the pyramids above it. 

I heard the singing of the Mississippi 

when Abe Lincoln went dowoi to New Orleans, 

and I've seen its muddy bosom 

turn all golden in the sunset. 

I've known rivers: 

Ancient, dusky rivers. 

My soul has grown deep like the rivers. 



384 



Street Corner Symphony: 

The story of a city block from the '50s through the '80s 

Narrator: 

Street Comer Symphony covers a lengthy period of time, which includes the postwar 
civil rights movement and the urban economic troubles and ongoing racist backlash that 
posed a simultaneous threat to equality. To tell the story, a vast national history had to be 
comprised. 

Voice # 1: 

America was a rich and immensely powerful nation after the end of World War II. The 
extraordinary achievements of the civil rights movement too place during a period of 
increasing prosperity, which would reach a climax in the later 1960s. 

Voice # 2: 

This growth created new jobs for semi-skilled labor, and though racism still made these 
jobs harder to get, African-Americans moving to Northern cities could find work. 

Voice # 3: 

Some of the money found its way into places like Harlem, Chicago's South Side, even 
here in Boston. 



Voice # 4: 

Newly arrived immigrants populations, primarily Mexican-American and Puerto Rican in 
the 1950s and Caribbean in the 1960s, also transformed the cities making them even 
more racially and ethnically diverse and complex. 

Voice # 5: 

But these new arrivals to the American Dream were confronted with fewer and fewer 
work opportunities, as the older industries left the cities. 

Voice # 6: 

America's urban centers became sits of industrial and governmental neglect. Racism and 
the phenomenon known as "white flighf ' made the inner city seem expendable to those 
who lived elsewhere. 

• The '50s: Birth of the Civil Rights Movement 

Narrator: 

The Civil Rights Movement entered its most successful phase during this time. Its 
energies were focused on the South, where racial segregation was still the law. The 
successes of the struggle to end Jim Crow in the South, accomplished through heroic 
determination and sacrifice, held the nation's attention. 



385 



Voice # 1: 

Meanwhile the plight to those in the Northern inner cities grew more desperate. 

Voice # 2: 

Culturally speaking, the postwar years saw the birth of a new form of music, originally 
the creation of African-American artists like Little Richard, Bo Diddley and Chuck 
Berry, who reworked the beat as they'd received it, in forms like the blues and gospel, 
and invented rock 'n' roll. 

Voice # 3: 
Timeline: 1954 The Supreme Court's Brown versus the Board of Education case in 
Topeka, Kansas overturned the last legal obstacles to integration established in Plessy 
versus Fergusson nearly a hundred years before. The landmark Brown decision was an 
important step in making racial segregation illegal, at first in America's schools, and 
eventually everywhere. 

Voice # 4: 

The problem was that making something illegal and making it stop was almost never the 
same thing. 

Voice # 5: 
Timeline: 1955 In Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to five 
up her seat on a bus to a white man. Her protest fueled a new consciousness, setting off 
the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which began the Civil Rights Movement and introduced a 
local Baptist minister, Martin Luther King, Jr., to the nation. 

Voice # 1: 
It was also the first year of the big rock 'n' roll breakthrough, with Little Richard, Elvis 
Presley, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry all debuting on the pop charts. 

Voice # 2: 

Timeline 1956 The Montgomery Bus Boycott ended in victory when the Supreme Court 
ruled that segregation of buses was unconstitutional. 

Voice # 3: 

1956 is also the year that Little Richard expressed outrage that white pop singer Pat 
Boone's cover of "Tutti Fruitti" outsold his original. 

Voice # 4: 

1957 Sam Cooke released his first hit single, " You Send Me." 



386 



• The '60s: Hamer, King & Malcolm 

Narrator: 

Unemployment among black men and women in 1960 was twice as high as among 
whites, and the average salaries of black men and women were roughly half those of their 
white counterparts. 

Voice # 1: 

That year Chubby Checker released a hit record boosting a new dance craze: "Come on 
baby, let's do the twist" 

Chubby Checker: 

Come on baby, let's do the twist. 

Come on baby, let's do the twist. 

Come on baby, let's do the twist. 

It goes somethin' like this. 

Voice #2: 

In 1962, Fannie Lou Hamer, the legendary civil rights activist, and her husband were 
sharecroppers on a plantation in Ruleville, Mississippi. Tells of her encounter with the 
owner of the plantation after she attempted to register to vote: 

Fannie Lou Hamer: 

My Husband came, and said the plantation owner was raising cain because I had tried to 
register , and before he quit talking the plantation owner came, and said " 

Plantation Owner: 

Fannie Lou, do you know-did Pap tell you what I said?" 

Fannie Lou Hamer: 

"Yes, Sir" 

Plantation Owner: 

I mean that. If you don't do down and withdraw your registration, you will have to 
leave. ..We are not ready for that in Mississippi. 

Fannie Lou Hamer: 

I addressed him and told him and said: I didn't try to register for you, I tried to register 
for myself I had to leave that same night. 

Narrator: 

On the tenth of September 1962, 16 bullets was fired into the home of Mr. and Mrs. 
Robert Tucker (where Hamer was staying) meant for her. That same night two girls were 
shot in Ruleville, Mississippi. 



387 



Voice # 1: 

Timeline 1963 Nearly half a million people converged on Washington, D.C. to call for 
civil rights for all Americans and an end to racial discrimination. It was the largest 
demonstration in the nation's history to that date. 

Voice # 2: 
On June 123, 1963, Medgar Evers, the great civil rights leader and field secretary for the 
NAACP, was assassinated. 

Voice # 3: 

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. 

Narrator: 

Arrested with Hundreds of others engaged in non-violent protest, Martin Luther King, Jr. 
wrote the famous " Letter From a Birmingham Jail": 

Martin Luther King Jr.: 

Before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson 
etched across the pages of history the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence, 
we were here. For more than two centuries our forefathers labored in this country 
without wages; they made cotton king; and they built the homes of their masters in the 
midst of brutal injustice and shameful humiliation-and yet out of a bottomless vitality, 
they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not 
stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because 
the sacred heritage and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. 

Voice # 1: 

Timeline 1964: The Civil Rights Act was signed into Law! 

Voice # 2: 

The Supremes was # 1 on the pop charts with "Where Did Our Love Go?" signaling the 
ascendancy of the "Motown Sound" - the music of African-American r & b and pop 
artists recording for Berry Gordy's Motown Records in Detroit. 

Voice # 3: 

Malcolm X speaks to students at Oxford University: 

Malcolm X: 

My contention is that anytime you have a country, supposedly a democracy, supposedly 
the land of the free and home of the brave. ..and it doesn't enforce its own law because the 
color of a man's skin happens to be wrong, then I say those people are justified to resort 
to any means necessary to bring about justice where the government can't give justice. 
And in my opinion the young generation of whites, blacks, browns, whatever else there 
is-you're living at a time of extremes, a time of revolution, a time when there's got to be 
a change. People in power have misused it, and now there has to be a change and a better 
world has to be built, and the only way it's going to be built is with extreme methods. 



388 



And I fore one will join in with anyone, I don't care what color you are, a long as you 
want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth. 

Voice # 4: 

Timeline 1965 Demonstrators plarming to march from Selma to Montgomery to protest 
Alabama's discriminatory statutes and history of racial oppression and violence were 
beaten and tear gassed by state troopers as they attempted to leave Selma. 

Voice # 5: 

Tow weeks late, thousands more gathered and completed the historic Selma-Montgomery 
march. 

Narrator: 

On February 21, Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City, as he spoke at a large 
gathering in an effort to build the newly created Organization of African-American 
Unity. Malcolm X had envisioned the O.A.A.U. as part of the international network of 
the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U.), which aimed at addressing the interests and 
struggles of all the African peoples of the continent and of the diaspora. 

Voice #1: 

That same year James Brown re-defined funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." He 
used guitars, horns, and his own voice like a set of drums. 

Voice # 2: 
1966 in Oakland, California, Huey Newton and Bobby Scale founded the Black Panther 
Party. 

Voice #3: 

All power to the People! 

Voice # 4: 

By 1967, FBI agents had infiltrated Black Panther offices in major U.S. cities, disrupting 
their activities and destroying the unity of their organizations. 

Narrator: 

1968 on April 4th Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis where he had been 
mobilizing support for striking sanitation workers. 

Voice #1: 

Riots broke out in one hundred U.S. cities. 

Voice # 2: 

A riot is a kind of social spontaneous combustion. 



389 



Voice # 3: 

That same year President Johnson appointed the Kemer Commission to study the causes 
of racial unrest. 

Voice # 4: 

The commission's Report of their findings spoke of "two nations, one white and one 
black." The commission also found that the major cause of the riots was white racism 
and white terrorism directed against non-violent protest, including instances of abuse and 
even murder of some civil rights workers in the South. 

Narrator: 

The Kemer Commission Report demonstrates, the spark that ignites the riot is not an 
isolated incident but is almost always "The last straw:" 

Voice # 5: 

Writing about the 1964 Harlem riot, which broke out after police shot and killed a 15- 
year-old boy, Langston Hughes speaks with irony about how a riot can sometimes 
achieve what years of mounting community outcry and action failed to bring about: 

Langston Hughes: 

Out of our 1964 riot this week, I do not know what concrete results will come but 
certainly its repercussions have already reached into high places. No less an authority 
than President Johnson has spoken from the capital, saying grandiloquently,* 'Violence 
and lawlessness cannot, must not and will not be tolerated.' Some Harlemites interpret 
this to mean that there will be no more head-bustings on the part of the police, or 
shooting of adolescents, black, white, or Puerto Rican, by men representing New York's 
finest. 

Voice #1: 

Timeline 1969: At least a half a million young people gather for a huge outdoor concert 
in Woodstock, N.Y. Feeling the strength of their numbers, they declare themselves the 
"Woodstock Nation." 

Voice # 2: 

Jimi Hendrix performs his rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." 

• The 70s: 

Voice #3: 

Timeline 1970: Reflecting back on the decade-Maryland in the early sixties; 

Voice #1: 

or Coretta Scott King, picking up the fallen standard of her slain husband to continue the 
fight. 



390 



Pauli Murray: 

Not only these and many other women whose names are well known have given this 
great human effort its peculiar vitality, but also women in many communities, whose 
names will never be known, have revealed the courage and strength of the black women 
in America. They are the mothers who stood in schoolyards with their children many 
times alone. One cannot help asking; 'Would the black struggle have come this far 
vsdthout the undeniable determination of its women?' " 

Narrator: 

Timeline 1971 The National Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that African Americans 
were still far behind whites in economic prosperity.... Average black income was 3/5 of 
the average white income, and 50% of all black rural housing units were substandard 
compared with 8% of white. 

Voice # 1: 

The scholar Manning Marble points out that "non-white youth unemployment increased 
in these years. The quality of black urban life- poor housing, rat infestation, crime, high 
infant mortality rates, disease, and poor public education - continued to deteriorate. 

Voice # 2: 
James Brown and the J.B.s released "Ge/ Up (I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine),^'' 
introducing the new super-heavy funk. 

Voice # 3: 
Sly and the Family Stone, with their fusion of the antiwar psychedelic outlook and James 
BrowTi-inspired funk, released There 's a Riot Going On. This album would have a major 
reverberating influence on music into the nineties (including rap). 

Voice # 4: 

1974 Nixon resigned rather than risk impeachment for his role in covering up the 
Watergate scandal. 

Voice # 5: 

Africa Bambaataa invented the term "hip-hop." Stevie Wonder released his hit song 
''Living for the City'" about the Meanness of life in the inner city. 

Voice #1: 

1975 All U.S. troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. 

Voice # 2: 

President Ford refused federal aid to the nearly bankrupt New York City. NYC and other 
East and Midwest traditional industries decline. Thus NYC forced to cut back on health, 
education, transit, welfare. ..forced hospitals and libraries to close, and abandoned city 
parks. 

Voice #3: 

Bob Marley and the Wallers toured American cities. The reggae sound had been created 
when New Orleans jazz records were carried along the routes of the Black Atlantic and 



391 



introduced to Jamaica in the 1950s. Imitated and re-invented by Jamaican bands, the 
jazz beat re-emerged as the reggae "mm-cha." With the legendary performances of 
Marley, reggae took root in the U.S. 

Voice # 4: 

1976 George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic embarked on their sci-fi "Mothership 
Connection World Tour'" featuring a giant flying saucer with flashing lights. Donning 
afi-o-wigs and glam-rock costumes, they celebrate hard funk: 

Chorus: 

Make my funk a P-Funk, I want to get Funked up! 
Make my funk a P-Funk, I want to get Funked up! 

Voice # 5: 

Timeline 1977: Ford's replacement President Jimmy Carter, rejected any effort to renew 
the social program initiatives of the 1960s. Now the Democratic Party also supported the 
policy of neglect that had begun under Nixon. In spite of the apparent lack of funds for 
the irmer cities, Carter found money to bail out the ailing Chrysler car company. 

Voice #1: 
Black out! 

Voice # 2: 

Large sections of New York City were "blacked-out" due to a major power failure. 
Rioting occurred in predominantly poor areas. 

Voice # 3: 

1979, Rap scored its first commercial hit with the single ^'Rapper's Delighf' by the 
Sugerhill Gang: "Hip-hop, don't stop!" 

• The 80s 

Narrator: 

At the close of the decade of the 70s, while one-tenth of all white Americans were poor, 
one-third of all African Americans, and one-quarter of all Latinos lived below the poverty 
level. By the end of the year 1980, unemployment for black Americans was 2 1/2 times 
higher than for whites, with black youth out of work at the rate of nearly 40%. 

Voice # 4: 

1980 Kurtis Blow released ""The Breaks'' rap's first gold record. 



Voice # 5: 

1981 MTV started broadcasting. Adding a new visual dimension to popular music, MTV 
would make it possible for the latest trends, whether in music, language or fashion, to 
criss-cross the globe overnight. 



392 



Narrator: 

1982 a particularly bad year for employment as a ongoing wave of plants close, primarily 
in the Midwest and Middle Atlantic States. In one year 2,700 layoffs and plants 
shutdowns eliminated over 1.25 million industrial jobs. 

Voice # 1: 

Michael Jackson released Thriller, the top-grossing album of all times. 

Voice # 2: 

Prince released his breakthrough album 1999, creating a new hybrid of Sly Stone- 
influenced rock, synthesized disco beats, and James Brown's funk. 

Voice # 3: 

Grandmaster Flash, the first major American rapper/DJ, and his crew, the Furious Five 
(all of them from the South Bronx) recorded ''The Message," Rap had entered the realm 
of explicit social commentary: 

Grandmaster Flash: 

Got a bum education, double-digit inflation 

Can't take the train to the job, there's a strike at the station 

Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge 

I'm trying not to lose my head 

It's a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder 

How I keep from going under 

Voice # 4: 

1982 Africa Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force released ''Looking for the Perfect 
Beat," the first record with sampling. 

Voice # 5: 
Newsflash: Graffiti artist Michael Stuart, arrested for spray-painting graffiti, died from 
blows inflicted while in the custody of six New York City transit police. 

Voice # 1: 

1986 Run-DMC released their Raising Hell album, which includes "Walk This Way," 
their collaboration with Aerosmith; it reached #4 on the pop charts 

Voice # 2: 
Timeline 1987 Bernard Goetz, a white man, opened fire on a crowded train, shooting 
several black men he alleged were trying to mug him. 



Voice # 3: 

M.C. Lyte released Lyte as a Rock and Salt-N-Pepa released Hot, Cool and Vicious, 
marking 1987 as the year when women rappers broke the all-male lock on commercial 
rap recording. 



393 



Voice # 4: 

The Beastie boys, a white band, released Licensed to III, a rap album. Rapper KRS-1 
released Criminal Minded, Gangsta Rap in embryonic form. Announcing themselves as 
"Prophets of Rage," Public Enemy released its first album of politically conscious rap, 
Yo! Bum Rush the Show. 

Public Enemy: 

I'm a Public Enemy but I don't rob banks 

I don't shoot bullets and I don't shoot blanks 

My style is supreme-number one is my rank 

And I got more power than the New York Yanks 

Narrator: 

Hip-hop culture (which included rap, graffiti art, break dancing and fashion) grew 
directly out of this impoverished urban landscape. Hip-hop is a true product of the 
circulation of populations and cultures Paul Gilroy talks about in The Black Atlantic. 

Voice #1: 

Gilroy notes that one of the critical events in the development of hip-hop was when Clive 
"Kool DJ Here" Campbell moved from Kingston to the South Bronx in 1969 and 
introduced the Jamaican practice of "toasting and boasting" in between and over the 
tracks he played on his double turntables. 

Voice # 2: 

As Tricia Rose, a scholar and cultural critic, points out in her important book Black 
Noise, Kool Here and Grandmaster Flash were trained in auto and electronic repair work; 

Voice # 3: 

the female rappers Salt-N-Pepa were trained as telemarketing reps for Sears; 

Voice # 4: 

and the Puerto Rican breakdancer Crazylegs started breaking because his mother couldn't 
afford to send him to Little League. 

Voice # 5: 

In other words, out of the deprivations of ghetto life, where the schools are so under 
funded that traditional music education isn't available, the creators of hip-hop culture 
used what's at hand to make art, to express and reinvent and reinvigorate the world in 
which they live. 

[END] 



394 



Appendix E: Cultural awareness Project 
The Mighty Jajah: A Jamaican Experience 

Written by David D. Coleman II 

With Jamaican Patwa translations 

by Caffie Bennett and Derrick Murdock 

Based on an original story by 
David D. Coleman II 

FORWARD 

"The Mighty Jajah: A Jamaica Experience, " is loosely based on historic events that 
happened during the late 1950's. The play talks about the struggle for freedom, and a 
national identity just prior to Jamaica 's independence. But more importantly, "The 
Mighty Jajah " tells the tale of the trails and tribulations of a 'grassroots movement ' 
calling for the return of Black people back to their ancestral homeland " Mother Africa. " 

PRODUCTION NOTES: 

The play is designed for a performance on a proscenium stage. However, it can be 
adapted to other spaces. The central focus of the play is on one type of cultural 
movement experienced in Jamaican society. The play is envisioned for an all-Jamaican 
cast, with the exception of Minister Douglas who is African American, and the Narrator 
who is British, priority must be given to the language, patwa in particular. However, 
because of the similarity in ascents inherent in all the Caribbean islands, if 
understandings in the linguistic differences are stressed as long as a true Jamaican 
sound is established casting a rainbow of Caribbean actors could also be considered. 
Casting those of non-Caribbean origin is not advised if they possess limited linguistic an 
cultural understanding of Jamaica. If the latter is opted for, caution is advised to achieve 
authenticity. 

COMMENT 

Jamaica a picturesque island, full of colorful people, spellbinding seashores, exotic 
fruits, and lively music [Reggae j, is a place I have traveled to and have fond memories 
of. This year long theatrical project was an opportunity for me to return back to the 
island spiritually and discover more about Jamaican culture. This participatory project 
has afforded the cast of translators, designers, actors, and musicians the opportunity to 
become intensively more culturally aware of one another through this shared learning 
experience. It has taught us allot about the Caribbean people, their culture, and their 
historical significance in the Pan-African experience. This experience has taught us how 
similar all our lives are if we allow ourselves to appreciate the diversity rather than 
dwell on the differences. It is a pleasure to be associated with people who give from the 
heart. 



395 



CHARACTERS 



PRIME MINISTER: 



GOVERNOR GENERAL: 



COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 



A schemer who will stop at nothing to get what he 
wants, even if it's illegal. Only interested in 
maintaining the status quo. 

A member of the Jamaican Cabinet. Cormiving and 
devious, with a precarious temper, who uses his 
authority to look out for his own best interests. 
He will do anything for a price. 

The highest ranking police official on the island, a 
no-nonsense career officer who follows the rules of 
law and has no tolerance for lawbreakers. 



GABBIDAN MURDOCK: 



JETTA: 



LORNA: 



DANNY: 



A life-long friend and disciple of the Mighty Jajah. 
Vividly remembers the days of the U.N. I. A. while 
a youth member. 

A true Rastafarian, totally devoted to the simple 
way of life. He has compassion for his fellow 
man but more importantly, for his people. 

A levelheaded and well-educated sister of the JaJah 
compound who possesses the caring characteristics 
that naturally draws people close to her. She is well 
respected by the followers. 

A baldhead in his late twenties, a peaceful farmer 
who is struggling to make a living for his family. 
The movement that Gabbidan 



PUNCY: 



DANNY JOSEPH (DJ): 



Danny's wife, a country girl who has never left her 
quiet rural setting until the news of the Mighty 
Jajah's movements captured her husband's 
imagination. She is very fearful towards what the 
future might bring. 

A mirror image of his father Danny. He respects 
his elders and is very inquisitive about the ever- 
changing events that are happening around. He 
sees the movement as an adventure. 



396 



MS. RUBIE: 



CHARACTERS 
(Continued) 

A generous, strong willed woman from Above 
Rocks a rural working-class town in St. Catherine 
Parish, 18 mile west of Kingston. Ms. Ruble, a 
single parent who derives her strength from many 
years of personal experiences both good and bad, 
that deprived her of the luxury of childhood. Her 
ex-husband was a tyrannical and oppressive man, 
a man very much like her father. Living with this 
man fortunately did not destroy her sensitivity or 
diminish her compassion for others. She treasures 
the bond that she has developed with the people 
she has associated with in the movement. 



AKIA: 



MS. DORIS: 



Ms. Ruble's only child. Very introverted but 
aware of the people and things around her. 

A wise, elderly market woman. She is the 
matriarch of the marketplace. She is also a 
personal the mother of Helen the wife of the Prime 
Minister. 



THE MIGHTY JAHJAH: 



HELEN GORDON: 



Like Gabbidan he was a member of the U.N. LA. 
His father was one of the first delegates to visit 
Liberia. When his father died mysteriously while in 
Liberia and shortly after Marcus Garvey was 
arrested and extradited to Jamaica , he vowed that 
one day he would continue the movement. 

The wife of the Prime Minister. 



STRANGER ON THE BUS: 
GUARD/ROBBER #1 
GUARD/ROBBER #2 



MARKET VENDOR #1 
MARKET VENDOR #2 



A bumbling hired hand who do anything for a price. 
His assistant who is a bit slow in 
understanding what is immediately 
happening around him. 



397 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 



Gray, Obika. 



McLean, Rodney M. 



Payne, Anthony J. 



Radicalism and social Change in Jamaica, 1960-1972 
Pub. The University of Tennessee Press, 1991 

The Theology of Marcus Garvey 

Pub. University Press of America, 1982 

Politics in Jamaica. 

Pub. St. Martin's Press, N.Y. 1988 ISBN 0-312-8069-X 



Boots, Adrian & 
Michael Thomas 



Jamaica Babylon on a Thin Wire 
Pub. Schocken Books, N.Y. 1977 



Moses, Wilson J. 



The Golden Age of Black Nationalism 1850-1925 

Pub. Oxford University Press. 1978 ISBN 0-19-520639-8 



Hill, R.A. & 
B. Blair Editors 



Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons. A Centennial 
Companion to The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro 
Improvement Association Papers. 
Pub. University of California Press, Berkeley 198 



398 



THE MIGHTY JAJAH: A JAMAICAN EXPERIENCE 
TABLE OF CONTENTS: 

ACT ONE: 
ACT ONE SCENE ONE ************************ PREMIER'S OFFICE 

Late in the evening 
ACT ONE SCENE TWO ************************ THE PLAN 

Several days later 
ACT ONE SCENE THREE ********************** THE BUS RIDE 

The following week 
ACT ONE SCENE FOUR *********************** THE INTERROGATION 

The same week 
ACT ONE SCENE FIVE *********************** THE ARRIVAL 

Same week 
ACT ONE SCENE SIX ************************* PREMIER'S OFFICE 

Next day 
ACT ONE SCENE SEVEN ********************** PLAYING DOMINOS 

The next day 
ACT TWO: 
ACT TWO SCENE ONE ************************ MARKET SCENE 

Next morning 
ACT TWO SCENE TWO *********************** THE DOCUMENTS 

That afternoon 
ACT TWO SCENE THREE ********************* INTERROGATION 

Later that day 
ACT TWO SCENE FOUR ********************** PREMIER'S OFFICE 

Next afternoon 
ACT TWO SCENE FIVE *********************** PREMIER AND HIS WIFE 

Later that afternoon 

ACT THREE: 
ACT THREE SCENE ONE ********************* MIGHTY JAJAH'S SPEECH 

Next morning 
ACT THREE SCENE TWO ********************* BREDDA JAJAH'S CHURCH 

Later that day 
ACT THREE SCENE THREE ******************* MS. LORNA AND MS. DORIS 

Next morning 
ACT THREE SCENE FOUR ******************** BREDDA JAJAH'S CHURCH 

Later that day 
ACT THREE SCENE FIVE ********************* MS. LORNA AND JETTA 

Next day 
ACT THREE SCENE SIX ********************** PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE 

Later that day 
ACT THREE SCENE SEVEN ******************* MIGHTY JAJAH'S CHURCH 

15 years later 



399 

INTRODUCTION 

Play begins with a historical audio/visual overview of the Marcus Garvey 
Movement with visuals of Jamaica circa 1959 inter dispersed. The music of Steel Pulse's 
"Rally Round The Flag" is heard. The visuals and fades as the light rises on the Premier 
of Jamaica. 

The time is 1957, Jamaica, West Indies. A period of unrest has occurred. There 
have been continued disturbances all around the country as worker in the sugar factories 
demand a better wages and working conditions. Many people have begun to look to 
individuals for spiritual guidance. One such person people are turning to for leadership is 
Reverend Jedadiah Clives, known as "The Mighty Jajah," who has begun a grassroots 
back-to-Africa-movement, based in Kingston that is rapidly sweeping the country. 

In the years past, the government's plotters and saboteurs have been exposed, and 
with each exposure a strengthening and reaffirmation to the cause has resulted. People 
everyday are flocking by the hundreds to Kingston, the home of Brother Jedadiah Clives, 
whom his followers inflectionally call "the Mighty Jajah," to join him on his journey to 
Africa. Brother Jajah, following in the footsteps of Marcus Garvey, has successfully 
organized a Repatriation-To-Africa Campaign. 

Brother Jajah's life-long friend Brother Gabbidan has successfully organized the 
masses from the rural areas of Jamaica causes quite a stir in the government, threatening 
the status quo. The Repatriation To Africa Movement offers many of the downtrodden an 
outlet hope. Because of the movement's rapidly escalating popularity, the government 
feels threatened. The government feels that its just a matter of time before all hell breaks 
loose. 



400 




401 



ACT ONE SCENE ONE 
[Late in the evening] 

[As the light goes up we see the interior of the office of the Premier of Jamaica. Pacing 
back forth in the middle of the room is the Premier himself impatiently waiting for the 
arrival of the Governor General. There is a knock at the door and the Governor General 
enters.} 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 
Come in Governor General, sorry for this emergency meeting at this un-Godly hour. 
[motions for him to sit down} 

GOVERNOR GENERAL: 

You look very troubled your Excellency, what's the problem sir? 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

Well A^hat are you gonna do, sir. Do you have a plan? [pause] 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

What am I gonna do? It's what are "we" gorma do! 

GOVERNOR GENERAL: 

I'm sure you didn't get me up in the middle of the night for nothing. Sir. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

No I didn't. [The Premier walks over to the Governor General looking in his eyes.} What 
I'm about to ask you is not for myself alone you understand, {turning away gazing into 
space) but for the good of people. 

GOVERNOR GENRAL: 

{Under his breath) Or for the good of some people? 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

(turn quickly towards him) 



What did you say? 
Nothing sir? 



GOVERNOR GENERAL: 



PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

{Pauses, unsure what to make of the Governor General 's last comment) Anyway, I need 
you to infiltrate the Mighty Jajah's group. But we need to keep this strictly confidential. 

GOVERNOR GENERAL: 

You know you can always count on me Sir. 



402 



PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

I know I can! You are a man of many faces and a man of many means. (Governor 
General laughs) I'm sure you can get the job done! Come go with me for a walk. 
(Whispers) Now, this is what I want you to do! (fades out) 



[Lights fade-out] 



403 




404 



ACT ONE SCENE TWO 

THE PLAN 

[The scene opens in a living room of a moderately furnished home situated on the ground 
of an acre of land on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica. This land is the home of the 
Mighty Jajah. It's also the home has of the Repatriation movement. On the grounds we 
see a fenced in tenement yard converted into a compound, consisting of a small church, 
meetinghouse, living quarters we see three men engrossed in a discussion. Brother 
Gabbidan a strong virile man in his late sixties. A religious leader from Maypen, the 
capital of Clarendon Parish, a rural community 30 miles west of Kingston, Jamaica. 
Seated next to him is Minister Douglas a man also in his late sixties, a religious Moslem 
leader and community organizer of the Garvietes, from the Temple Seven in New York 
City, and leader of the American delegation directly link with the Jamaican movement. 
Seated next to him is the Rev. Jedadiah Clives also is in his late sixties, the spiritual leader 
and official head of the Repatriation Movement, who is affectionately known as the Mighty 
Jajah.] 

MINISTER DOUGLAS: 

All plans have been completed from the state side. The brothers and sisters have gotten 
prepared. It is only a matter of weeks before the ship arrives in Kingston Harbor. I don't 
clearly see the significance, in this day and age for a ship? When a plane can do and 
besides that, are your followers prepared? {looking around) From the looks of things 
around here it seems that people have lost their faith.... 

GABBIDAN: 

How do yu mean de people 'ave lost dere faith? 

MINISTER DOUGLAS: 

Well, I was expecting more than the numbers I see here at your compound. My group 
back home is twice the size. 

GABBIDAN: 

This does not reflect de entire group bredda! Yu 'ave been ere only a few days. We caan't 
bring everyone ere to meet your delegation. Remember, the Premier has sent agents to 
stop us at any cost. Keep de faith Bredda... 

MINISTER DOUGLAS: 

For me and my people to keep the faith Repatriation must be a Jamaican-lead experience. 
{pointing firmly at Gabbidan) 

GABBIDAN: 

Agreed. Me 'ave already planted de seeds in de rural areas. We 'ave representation from 
Half Way Tree, Red Hills road, and even Claredon Parrish. Bredda Jajah read dem de 
poster. 



405 



JAJAH: 

[removes and unfolds flyer from his pocket and begins reading it\ 

"Should we, de true Jamaicans, sacrifice de prospect of self-government, freedom, and 
independance, over continual oppression under dis self-righteous British government? 
Should we, breddas and sisdas, be denied our true African roots and accept de British 
defmistion of a who a we are? Should we allow England to define who and what we are, 
denying our African roots everywhere in a de world? Shall we continue to refuse GOD's 
offer for repatriation back home to Africa and a life of everlasting peace and freedom? 
Shall we give up the prospect of living under our own vine and fig trees, tiling our own 
fields, teaching our own children, governing our own communities, over going back into 
slavery, under these wicked, unrighteous and oppressive rulers of Jamaica? NO, GOD 
forbid! Repatriate now! 

MINISTER DOUGLAS: 

Sounds good! Very good, indeed. The brothers and sisters will be pleased to read this. 
Have all the literature been distributed? 

GABBIDAN: 

All literature 'ave been produced and distributed as planned. Very shortly the feed-back 
will come, you must be patient. You must simply wait. 

MINISTER DOUGLAS: 

(rising) That's what I mean! You haven't got it together. It's taking to long and if it 
takes this long, a ship would not do. 

JAJAH: 

No! Gabbidan. We can no longer be patient. We can no longer wait. They have nothing 
to offer us! All their sweet promises and what they hope to obtain out of self-government 
under British colonial rule can only lead us into destruction and captivity because their 
leaders are all blind, and they shall all fall into the ditch of God's judgment, captivity, 
war and slavery. We must leave this place now! 

Now Minister Douglas do you fiilly understand the significance of the ship? No we can't 
leave by the plane, it would be too easy and, it would not have, a significant input as 
leaving on a ship, [walking over to Minister Douglas] To leave on a ship will make a 
significant statement to the world, [placing one hand on his shoulder, the other using it to 
gesture] Picture this, we Africans from America and Jamaica returning home as Bredda 
Marcus Garvey envisioned. Our ancestors came by force, stripped from their homes, 
their lands, their culture! But we the chosen, the sons and daughters of those Africans are 
returning home. 

GABBIDAN: 

Irie Bredren! Praise Jah. 



406 



MINISTER DOUGLAS: 

Well, I still have my doubts, {pause) A ship? 

JAJAH: 

Just the first one of many to follow. 

MINISTER DOUGLAS: 

A symbolic gesture. 

JAJAH: 

To show the world how strong and powerful our race can be. {steps away) Bredda I and I 
'ave de faith, do you? 

MINISTER DOUGLAS: 

I never lost it. 1 just want to be sure, {as he raises to leave) My plane leaves in a few 
hours. I will get things in order and return as planned. May Allah protect us. 

JAJAH: 

Guidance bredda. 

MINISTER DOUGLAS: 

As-Salam-Wal-Laykum. Walakum Salaam. 

GABBIDAN: 

Irie bredda! Walk safe. 

[FADE OUT to 1st verse of song] 

{"'Ethiopia, thou Land of Our Fathers, " Marcus Garvey called for the adoption of this as 
the "Anthem of the Negro race. "The Universal Ethiopian Anthem " poem by Burrell and 
Ford.] 

Ethiopia, thou of our fathers. 

Thou land where the gods loved to be, 

As storm cloud at night suddenly gathers 

Our armies come rushing to thee. 

We must in the fight be victorious 

When swords are thrust outward to glean; 

For us will be ic'ttry be glorious 

When led by the red, black, and green. 

CHORUS: 

Advance, advance to victory 

Let Africa be free; 

Advance to meet the foe 

With the might 

Of the red, the black , and the green. 



407 



[The song echoes such issues as the repatriation movement and the founding of Liberia, 
the ramifications of the Amistad Mutiny and court case, the Niagara Movement 
concluding with the return of African-American soldiers from World War I which are 
seen as brief photographic images flashed up stage.} 



[Light fades to Black] 



408 



ACT ONE SCENE THREE 
THE BUS RIDE 

[Late afternoon, the next day. The scene opens on a group of passengers on a crowded 
country bus of "The Blue Bird Bus Line, " traveling midway on their journey from 
Claredon to Kingston, to meet the Mighty JaJah. Among the passengers are Gabbidan, 
Jetta a Rastafarian, Danny, his wife Puncy and their son DJ, Miss Rubie and her 
daughter and several other passengers, who are going on to their respective destination.] 

JETTA: 

So many years, so many tears I man suffer. Too long we singing de same song, 
Gabbidan. We ready fe de repatriation to Africa. One day One day! De path of 
righteousness Shall open unto I. Di more dem persecute I. Di stronga and stronga I rise! 

STRANGER: 

Yu right Rasta! [ While peeking through de crowd. Pushing de passengers aside. \ 

DANNY: 
{to Gabbidan) Justice must come fe we all breddin teach de youth dem, de right word 
{Danny to his son) Listen to Bredda Gabbie... {to Gabbidan) Give us another word 
bredda Gabbidan. 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

We 'ave a just cause and we 'ave faith in de justice of God. Most of all we "ave among 
our assets a Moses, Bredda Jajah someone who we can trust. He is not a spy; he comes 
not as a traitor not a servant for de government, but is appointed by /god and is 
recognized and accepted among de leaders of our race and is going to lead us out of dis 
state of misery, and into de path of righteousness. A place dat is truly ours. "ZION". 

DANNY: 

That's right breddin, we a go home to Mother Afrika! 

CROWD: 

Amen! Afrika. 

{Focus shifts to the women passengers catching them in mid-conversation.) 

PUNCY: 

Whe de man dem a say is true Miss Rubie! But a yesso me live in me life sista! 

MISS RUBIE: 

Wha yu a say is true Puncy. But we just de a fe a little time, sista. Home Afrika! That's 
wha all we roots de. 

PUNCY: 

That's true Miss Rubie, but ano me, me a worry bout, a de pickney-dem. Me live a little 
life a ready, sista a betta me want fe dem. 



409 



MISS RUBIE: 

No betta word to say Puncy. Me had a hard life daughta, sometime good but, mostly bad. 
But let me tell yu something, I treasure the bad times the most. I draw my strength from 
it, it's like a cool drink of spring water on a hot summa day, then I get the courage to face 
anything that come feme way. 

PUNCY: 

Miss Ruble I wish I 'ave yu strength, but yu ave seen an experience allot. As you know a 
right yesso inna Claredon me live all me life. Marry now and 'ave two children, its hard 
fe me just pick-up and leave dis place, yu undastan wha me a try fe say sista? 

PUNCY: 

Yu right sista! 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

{Talk to Jetta, about de Back to Africa Movement) When Bredda Jajah tell-I about dis 
journey, I say to I self, nothin gwan stop I, dis is I man roots, Bredda Jajah is some kind 
of a precha man, ho! he Africa, here I come. 

DANNY: 
Dat bredda is a messiah, im 'ave great powa. 

STRANGER: 

Wha yu a hold pan so tight! Yu tink anybody a go tief yu rasta? 

JETTA: 

I no worry bout dat bredda! I man a hold on pan Jah word. 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

Man yu a hold pan Jah word inna yu hand! I man 'ave Jah word inna I man heart. 

STRANGER: 

Give I a small read off a dat word nuh bredda? 

JETTA: 

Dis is I man personal belongs, yu can't just want come teck a read so bredda! 

STRANGER: 

Irie! Irie rasta! Guidance. 

PUNCY: 

Bway! We deh pan dis old country bus a long time yunno. Miss Ruble, me nuh too sure 
bout dis! Me trust me husband Danny, but me afraid! Yu afraid Miss Ruble? 



410 



MISS RUBIE: 

No child! There comes a time in our life when, change must come. Just enjoy de sweet 
bus ride sista! 

PUNCY: 

But I still worry bout dis Miss Ruble. 

MISS RUBIE: 

Wha yu a worry bout so! 

PUNCY: 

Fe leave a place whe we live all wi life, yes Miss Ruble, me 'ave fe worry. 

MISS RUBIE: 

No daughta, we going to a new place, new adventure. 

PUNCY: 

But me still nuh understan dis move! 

MISS RUBIE: 

Sometimes me nuh understan yu, yunno! Jah know, yu bawl bout de life yu live. Now 
change come and still yu can't face it. If yu want good yu nose, 'ave fe run. Yu see dis 
place, and all a dem tings whe frow ya. Bway! Ackee, cassava, de famous Blue Mountain 
Coffee, all dem tings, and still me a suffa. Me walk from Clarendon to Kingston. Sista! 
yu should a see de cane field! It jus a wave galong so inna de breeze. De eart never get 
old ya, yunno. It always soft. It nuh like dem odda foreign land. Sista it ripe and ready. 

JETTA: 

Yu right Ms. Ruble. 

MISS RUBIE: 

Look everybody, Rosealee Park, but wait! Wha dat dign seh Puncy? Walthan Park 
Avenue! Praise Jah. We reach. Come everybody pack-up, pack-up! 

[The group exits from the bus. They all take a long look at the city. The stranger, knock 
Jetta 's papers out of his hands, on his way out of the bus. He bend down and tries to 
concealed it under his shirt.] 

JETTA: 

Ha bredda! Where I man personal papers. 



STRANGER: 

Right here rasta! I was just picking it up fe yu man. 



411 



JETTA: 

Irie bredda! [Jetta gave the stranger a disturbed look.] 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

Bway! Dis is a big place. 

MISS RUBIE: 

Bredda Gabbidan, I know dere gonna be some dine-na confusion inna dis place. 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

Everybody stay close. 

{they walk through the city towards Brother Jajah 's compound] 
{to Jetta) Look out for dat tree! 

PUNCY: 

Danny Joseph fine yu self over here! 



[FADE OUT] 



412 




TAnflkfe If^T^fifctflT/orl 



413 



ACT ONE SCENE FOUR 
THE INTERROGATION 

(The same week) 

[Scene opens with the Mighty jajah seated on a stool in the center of a room. All is dark 
around him. Enters the Minister of Justice. \ 

MINISTER OF JUSTICE: 

Weel, well, well Mr. Jedadiah Clive. Welcome. I hope your trip here was a pleasant one. 

JAJAH: 

It was just a matta a time before we would meet. Well what do yu want? Yu got me 
here What's the charge? 

MINISTER OF JUSTICE: 

I just have a few questions to ask you. Just sit still, you are not under arrest, you were just 
brought in for questioning. 

JAJAH: 
What do yu want to question me about? I am just a simple man. I run a honest 
establishment. What could yu possibly want to talk to me fa? 

MINISTER OF JUSTICE: 

Tell me something. Who was that American that staying at your compound 

.JAJAH: 

Who are yu talking about? What American, when? What are yu driving at? 

MINISTER OF JUSTICE: 

Let's stop this foolishness! You know who I am talking about. The American, who 
stayed at you compound last week. I have proof he met with you and members of your 
group. So I will ask one more time, who is he and where was he from? 

JAJAH: 

If you know an American visited me last week, you obviously know when him arrived and 
left the island. Let us not play games. That's not really what yu want to ask me? Now is 
it? 

MINISTER OF JUSTICE: 

I know who and what you are! You are walking a thin line, a very thin line... Your radical 
movement will eventually end in disaster just like all the rest. An all those people who are 
with you now... [pulls out a copy of one of the pamphlets] who believe in this propaganda 
are following you down a path straight to hell along with you. 

JAJAH: 

Why is it that I am condemned to hell? That's your problem. Yu are so alienated from 
your people that you truly believe your own propaganda. 



414 



MINISTER OF JUSTICE: 

I have no more to say to you. {Get out! Jajah rises, pointing his finger) I have my eyes 
on your every move. Sooner or later 

JAJAH: 

Thank yu for the distinct pleasure of being interrogated by his excellency the Minister of 
Justice, [exiting] Ave a nice day. 

EXITS: 
[FADE OUT] 



415 



ACT ONE SCENE FIVE 

THE ARRIVAL 

(Same week) 

[After a long journey, the group finally at Jajah 's Church. The area consists of a church, 
living quarters and a courtyard. Two guards are seen standing at the front gate, one of 
the guard at the gate if clearly recognized as the Governor General. One of the 
passengers on the bus, not directly a part of the group, walk up to the guards.} 

SLICK: 

Lady! Where yu going? No one allowed in here sista! 

MISS DORIS: 

I'm a personal friend of Jajah, Me!... Miss Dons.... [looking at Slick like he 's familiar] A 
who a yu bredda/ 

SLICK: 

[Feeling a little uneasy, since Miss Doris could easily recognized him. He turns his head 
away and says to himself] But what a de Premier's wife's madda doing don ere? 
[Disguising his voice with a cough] Go right in sista! 

SECOND GUARD: 

[Slapping Slick 's back] Yu alright bredda? 

[Slick nods his head as Miss Doris walks in.] 

MISS RUBIE: 

[Seeing Miss Doris enter without anymore scrutinizing by the guards she turns to 
Gabbidan and says] Bredda Gabbidan, dat sista? She was on the bus wid we. Where she 
ago? 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

That sista? Maybe she 'ave her own invitation. Anyway! Wait ere mi breddrin me a fe 
take care a de arrangements. Me be right back. [Gabbidan proceeds to the gate entrance 
guarded by three brothers extending his hand] How yu doing breddrin? 

FIRST GUARD: 

But wait! A in yasso all a conuh a go! 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

I don't know yu bredda, who are you to say I can't go in/ 

SLICK: 

And who are yu bredda. 

SECOND GUARD: 

That's Bredda Gabbidan. 



416 



FIRST GUARD: 

Who! I don't care who he is, him can't come in. 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

Me undastan yu doing yu job bredda, but give I a few minutes. Tell me good friend 
Bredda Jajah dat I! Bredda Gabbidan has arrived. 

FIRST GUARD: 

Yu good who! A who yu say, de Mighty Jajah! 

GABBIDAN: 

Yes bredda! Nothing no wrong wid yu ears bredda, that's exactly what I'm saying. 

SLICK: 

[Feeling like a absolute fool, the Slick looks through some paper in his hands, trying to 
redeem himself, turn to the first guard] Yu know who dis is? Dis is Bredda Gabbidan, de 
man we are expecting, [turn to Bredda Gabbidan] Welcome bredda Gabbidan, come right 
on in, if yu need any help from us ask me personally. 

PUNCY: 

Bredda a whe we aggo sleep. u . 

SLICK: 

Tings no look as bad as it seems sista! Someone will take care fe yu, we 'ave a room 
prepared just for de ladies, an de men compartment is just across from yu. A sista will 
bring yu some blankets fe keep yu warm. 

PUNCY: 

Thank yu breadda. Jah bless yu 

LORNA: 

[Enters Loma, a member of the movement.] Welcome everybody, me glad yu all finally 
arrived. These ere blankets will keep de pickney warm. It's not much but, this de best I 
caan do. 

MISS RUBIE: 

Tank yu sista, we should sleep good tonight. 

[The sister helps settle the group. After they enter we see the two guards and Slick still at 
the gate talking in a more devious way.] 

SLICK: 

Now do as mi tell yu, get over dere yu idiots 9pointing to Bredda Gabbidan who is just 
about to enter the men's quarters.) an get Bredda Gabbidan's papers. . . 



417 




TMitve^ ■;-n7»UC JfclTfl" 



'VI k Thlii^/ 



418 
ROBBER #1: 



A who! A who yu seh? 



SLICK: 

Yu def man, yu foo fool? Bredda Gabbidan! (pow/wg) dat one deh, right deh! 

ROBBER #2: 

Which one! A which one yu sey? 

SLICK: 

(pointing) That one! (smacking his head and pointing furiously) that one! No wait awhile, 
let de men de get settled, then get mi de papers. Come on. [ They all exit stage right. The 
light dims indicating time has passed. The two robbers reappear. All in the compound 
are asleep. In the darkness the two men creep over to the sleeping group of men and stop 
near them to look them over.] 

ROBBER #2: 

A Who! A who Slick seh. 

ROBBER #1: 

A dis one! Me tink me rememba him, me see pan de country bus, me even talk to him. 

ROBBER #2: 

Yu sure man! 

ROBBER #1: 

Bway! [rubbing his head] Me no too sure, but me tink is dis one. 

[The robbers in their confusion quarrel over which person 's sack or bundle to take. 
Robber #7 grabs papers out of Jetta's sack while Robber U2 picks up whatever he can 
from the group sacks and bundles. As they begin to leave Robber #7 picking up valuables 
dropped by Robber #2 hits Jetta over the head with Bredda Gabbidan walking stick 
knocking him down while Robber #1 retrieve the papers. Out of reflex Jetta jumps up and 
blindly swings his staff as he tries to hit the Robbers but they escape.] 

MISS RUBIE: 

[running out of the women's quarters] 
What is de conftision, is everybody alright? 

PUNCY: 

[peering out of the doorway timidly] Lord have mercy I can't teck de confusion. Danny? 
[yelling] Danny? 

DANNY: 
What is de matta honey, (rushing over to his wife) me boy alright? 



419 



PUNCY: 

But wait yu no 'ave a wife too? Imagine inna me state of panic all yu concern is if yu boy 
alright! Of course him alright. How come yu no ask if me alright? 

DANNY: 

But Puncy if yu 'ave strenght fe bwall out me name so, honey yu quiet fine. 

PUNCY: 

wha append! [Danny begins to explain what he saw as Gabbidan speaks] 

BREDDA GABBIAN 

How much more Lord! How much more time we 'ave fe go thru dis ya foolishness, 
before we come out ya s>o.{Enters Lornafro m the church/meeting room. She is one of the 
sisters in charge of the Jajah compound] 

LORNA: 

Hello! Everybody I hear de confusion from up a de top a de yard. .Is everyone okay! 
How bout yu rasta? 

JETTA: 

Bway sista dis is not 1 man's day. When trouble come, it pour like rain. 

LORNA: 

Don't trouble yu self Rasta! Tings will look better tomorrow. 

JETTA: 

Tell me someting sista! Everybody dat come inna dis movement, a so dem a fe suffa? 

LORNA: 

What are yu trying to say rasta? Look man when yu suffa, yu a suffa fe all a we. This 
movement is a righteous ting, yu 'ave fe undestan dis is fe de good of de people and, if 
somebody 'ave fo suffa just a little now fe de bettament later on, I don't tink it's a dat bad 
rasta! 

JETTA: 

I man no like trouble. Dis bredda is a peaceful man but, yu know sista all dis aggrevation 
could meek a man do tings him no accustum to do. Me wee lick off a man head nuh! 

LORNA: 

What da bredda dem do was wrong rasta! They are not a reflection on a de movement. 
Now yu can't go judging everybody. Bad tings appen to all a we some times. We all 'ave 
fe cope wid it. You life no gone, tank God yu still can make yu trip. 

JETTA: 

All right sista, yu right. 



[Lorna and the womenfolks returned to their quarters] 

JETTA: 

[Turn to Bredda Gabbidan and asked] 
What's de matter bredda? Is everything alright? 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

Bway! Me papers... All me papers gone! 



[Fades Out] 



420 



421 



ACT ONE: SCENE SIX 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA'S OFFICE 

(The next morning) 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

Come in Governor General. What news do you have to report? Did you get it? 

GOVERNOR GENERAL: 

No sir! Sorry to report, 1 did not get ir yet. I have two men on the job. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

You are not taking this serious Governor General! Heads will roll and one of them will not 
be mine! 

GOVERNOR GENERAL: 

Relax your Excellency! Why get so upset. That Bredda Jajah, we've seen his kind before. 
And that Bredda Gabbidan, he is nobody! I'm in good with these people, they confide in 
me, they trust me! If it will make you happy, I'll keep a eye on that new gathering. I'll 
have it all settled in a few days. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA 

No! You will have it settled in twenty- four hours! (pointing to the exit) Now get out! 

[the Governor General exits] 



422 



ACT ONE SCENE SEVEN 

PLAYING DOMINOES 

(The next day) 

[Miss Rubie exits the women quarter, she walked over to Jetta and Danny, who are 
engrossed in a domino game] 

MISS RUBIE: 

How de breddrin dem feel today? 

DANNY: 

[Nods. Keeps eyes glued to game] 

JETTA: 

Bway! Yu just being concern is plenty help sista! [to Danny] Meek yu move bredda. [to 
Miss Rubie] Right now I man could sip on a cool dragon stout, dat could give I man, back 
I strength. 

MISS RUBIE: 

[ Miss Rubie goes to a basin filled with ice and stout.] Alright rasta! De sista will teck 
care of dat. 

DANNY: 
Give 1 one too sista! 

PUNCY: 
{Frightened, to Danny) Me caan stay ya Danny! To much madness me want fe go home 
now! 

MISS RUBIE: 

But wha is dis doh! A who a talk bout home, a yu Puncy! As little crosses come, yu tun 
tail and run. De path to life is not a easy road yu know sista! Sooner or lata trouble must 
come yu way, just teck life it come sista! An look pan de bright side, we nah travel alone, 
de bredda dem will teck care a we, yu feeling a little betta no daughta. 

PUNCY: 

Yu so righy Miss Rubie. Tank yu sista! 

JETTA: 

Nuff respect to yu Miss Rubie, but I agree wid Puncy. I man neva bargin fe all a dis. Let 
I man tell yu sometin sista! Me leave me beautiful mansion, with roolin hills covered 
ewith a thick green blanket. Yu believe this Miss Rubie, I man Jedidiah Brown! leave I 
man big two bedroom house, fe sleep pan people dirty ground. And pan top a all me 
crosses, dem tief Bredda Gabbidan inna de middle a de nite. I man so vex sista, dat if yu 
cut I man not even water yu woulda fine daughta. 

DANNY: 

Stop yu complaining bredda, make yu next move. 



423 



JETTA: 

Yu full a big talk rasta! How come yu neva act like a man and defend Bredda Gabbidan 
hey Why yu didn't do something? 

DANNY: 

Before I could do anyting, everyting get crazy. Anyway bredda yu no see it was two a 
dem. Rasta is only a me! 

MISS RUBIE: 

How come not one of oonuh two idot, ask youself what dis trouble means to Bredda 
Gabbidan. A lot of preparation went into dis movement. So if anyone 'ave fe cry over 
spilled milk, it should be Bredda Gabbidan. 

JETTA: 

Yu are so tight Miss Ruble, let I man go over and talk to Bredda Gabbidan. 

[Jetta leaves. Enters DJ] 

DANNY: 

Come son, sit down. Why you look so troubled? 



DJ: 

Danny! Did dat man hurt Mr. Jetta? Did he daddy? I don't understand. 

DANNY: 

Well son, no Bredda Jetta not hurt 

DJ: 

And why those men steal Mr. Gabbidan' s things? 

DANNY: 

What de man did to Mr. Jetta was wrong, but, try an understan. The robber took sometin 
that belong to Mr. Gabbidan and he was wrong, to do that. 

SON: 

But daddy! Mr. Jetta said, if hime did catch dat man, him woulda hurt him. Is dat right 
daddy? 

DANNY: 

No son! Let me explain. Some times people do bad things to you and naturally you want 
to justify yourself but, sometimes you 'ave fe look inside yu self and, say "is what I'm 
about to do is it right" Sometimes it's better to walk away from trouble than to start 
trouble. 



424 



SON: 

So daddy! Two wrong don't make a right? 

DANNY: 

Yes son, you are so right. 

[Enters Brother Jetta and Brother Gabbidan] 

Wha yu seh, Bredda Gabbidan. 

DJ: 

Hello Bredda Gabbidan. Hello Bredda Jetta.(Both men greet them) 

DANNY: 

Bredda Gabbidan, how yu feel bout dis move to Afrika? 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

Me want to see whe all me roots deh bredda! 

DJ: 

Bredda Gabbidan, when dat tief hurt Mr. Jetta why didn't you help him? 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

Son, a wise man thinks with his mind not with his hands. At dis point in my life, bway! 
Jajah soon coll fe dis old body. Young man, I'm so old, and not as swift as I use to be. 
I'm looking a place of peace and quiet not trouble and disturbance. 

JETTA: 

Yu too old bredda, we 'ave fe go sun yu! 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

All 1 man want now is just to relax, a small house will do. Me can't afford a big one 
anyway. A know it don't sound like much but, I enjoy a simple life. 

JETTA: 

I and I undastan dat yu old, but yu life no ova yet! Yu caan't live poor all yu life! Come 
to Africa and enjoy de big life bredda. 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

A no big like me a look bredda! We just want a simple life. 

[Enter Miss Ruble and Puncy] 

MISS RUBIE: 

Bway! Dem say woman can chat! But from em bom me never see a man can chat so. 
Wha-happen bredda, is time fe unoh pack up yu tings, is time to go. 



425 
JETTA: 



Wha dat yu sey? 



PUNCY: 

Yes! Bredda, One a de bredda inna de compound say ship a come. 

JETTA: 

Yeah bredda! Africa we a come! 

MISS RUBIE: 

No badda go run yu mouth now. Cause me no see no packing done. Hurry back. 

JETTA: 

Me pack aready sista! Yu no see tings dem de so? 

PUNCY: 

Well let go get de childen ready fe dis journey. 

MISS RUBIE: 

Praise Jah! Puncy me glad yu feeling a little better 'bout de journey. Come sista meek me 
give yu a help wid de packing. 

[Enter Lornafrom the Church/Meeting Room] 

LORNA: 

Good morning ever>'body! How is things today, I heard yu all had a little disturbance last 
night, {looking at Jettd) Why yu look so vex rasta? 

JETTA: 

Bway daughta, de trouble I man incounta inna dis yah yard in night, coulda last me a 'ole 
year. 

LORNA: 

Rasta! Jah is on yu side today because, things could 'ave been worst. 

JETTA: 

Yu right sista. Anyway tell me yu name, daughta. 

LORNA: 

Why! [think about it for a moment] Loma! 

JETTA: 

Bway! Da name deh fit yu well sista! Pretty name fe a sweet woman. 

LORNA: 

Rasta yu not only smart but, yu 'ave good eyes too. 



426 




427 



JETTA: 

Ave course me 'ave good eyes, yu think beauty like this pass me every day? 

LORNA: 

No mind yu! Yu just full a big talk. 

JETTA: 

Nuff respect to yu sista, yu no only pretty but you a real smart too. How yu just see 
through I man so. Anyway tell I some ting sista, yu married? Let me see yu fmga. 

LORNA: 

No bredda! Why yu want fe know dat.? 

JETTA: 
Bway! sista! From de time me a come inna de yard and, me eye catch pan yu, bway me 
temperature rise and me heart just a shivea. 

LORNA: 

Yu sure just a yu temperature a rise? (Lorrra gives Jetta a smile) or is somthin else rising? 
Yu gwaan, yu just full up a sweet talk... a woman yu a look.... Anyway you lucky Rasta! 
No more fightin alright? 

JETTA: 

Any ting yu want sista! (to himself) Bway she sweet eeeeh.... 

LORNA: 

Any way take care a yu self. 

JETTA: 

Hold-up wha yu rushing off to, sista! 

LORNA: 

Wait! How yu expect me fe meek me living? By talking to yu all day. Bredda me 'ave 
work fe do, see yu lata. 

JETTA: 

Daughta 1 man am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Yu 
unda 1 man personal guidance. 

[Jetta takes her hand, hold her back gently] 
Sista! Come go a Africa wid me. 

LORNA: 

We talk bout dat some other time man! 

JETTA: 

Tell me now, me wan know sista! 



428 

LORNA: 

Me talk to yu lata 

JETTA: 

When! 

LORNA: 

Soon! All right Rasta, soona datn yu tink. [gives him a sweet smile] 

[Slick appears in the yard. He sees Lorna hand in hand with Jetta. He overheard them 
talking about the robbery that took place. Slick, trying to stop the conversation, grabs 
Lorna by the arm.] 

SLICK: 

Lorna, a ketch yu red handed! Mi nuh like how yu a keep man wid mi. And wha bodda 
mi more den all is how di bwoy a fmgle you like yu a him oman. Now whe yu 'ave fi 
say? 

LORNA: 

Slick, whe yu a watch mei fa? Mi nuh tell yu seh it over between me an yu. And furda 
more mi 'ave business fi tek care of so let mi go before yu regret it. 



SLICK: 

Don't try mi faith yu nuh. Yu get so heaby till yuh a come treaten mi now. Di dutty bwoy 
mussy put yu up to dis. 

JETTA: 

Hey breda! A who yu a call dutty bwoy? Yuh betta watch yu mouth before me and mi 
breddren mash yu dung. 

SLICK: 

If de cap fit yu, yu a can wear it. yu name dutty bwoy? Mi a talk to mi oman so mi nuh 
know how yu get inna dis. 

LORNA: 

(Still struggling to get free from Slick) Leggo offa mi han. Yu a hurt me. 

JETTA: 

Di sista seh fi let her go, wha more yuh wan dan dat? 

DANNY: 

A weh she do yu, mek yu a treat so her so? Leggo di sista now<i\[Both Jetta and Danny 
begin to move towards Slick. Slick looks at Jetta and Danny, sizes up the situation, looks 
at Lorna angrily and lets her arm go.] 



429 



SLICK: 

A ole heap a unnuh so mi betta leave dis place before urinuh come dung pan me like a 
pack of crosses. And yu Loma as mi granny woulda seh, yu tink irma good company? 
When yu lid wid dogs rise wid flees. [Slick turns and exits\ 

JETTA: 

But wait Loma! Who dat renkin bway! How him a gwaan like him own yu. 

LORNA: 

No worry bout dat tiefmg bway rasta! A yu 'ave eyes fa 

JETTA: 

Irie sista. [ Jetta give Lorna a kiss] 



[Loma exits] 
[FADE OUT] 



430 



ACT TWO SCENE ONE 
(The next morning) 

MARKET SCENE 

[Scene open with market women entering singing, preparing the market for the day 's 
business.] 

MARKET WOMEN 

Carry me ackee, go a Lindstead Market, not a quattie wout sell. Carry me ackee, go a 
Lindstead Market, not a quattie wout sell. Bway! What a night, what a night, what a 
Saturday night. Bway! What a night, what a night, what a Saturday night. Everybody 
come feel-up, feel-up, wha dem mumma no bring. Everybody come feel-up, feel-up, wha 
dem mumma no bring. Oh! What a night, what a night, what a Saturday night. Oh! What a 
night, what a night, what a Saturday night. [Enters customers who began bartering on 
price.] 

CUSTOMER 

Wha yu 'ave fe sell today sista? 

MARKETWOMAN #1 

Me 'ave ackee, cassava, breadfruit.... 

CUSTOMER 

Meek me see dem! (reaches for fruit and gets hand slapped 

MARKETWOMAN #1 

Whe yu a feel up mi tings dem fa? Yu tink a foul! Wha appen, yu a buy it? 

CUSTOMER 

If me can't ffeel h, sista me nah but it. 

MARKETWOMAN #1 

Well, tek de money and go spread yu bed. [Customer walks away. Moves to another 
vendor] 

MARKETWOMAN #2 

Lissen lady no come over here with yu cheap self, if yu nah buy nothing. 

CUSTOMER 

Look sista me nuh come a market fe argue wid yu. How much is this sista. {pointing to 
stalks of sugar cane) 

MARKETWOMAN #2 

Just give me a dollar for de sugar cane, bredda. 



431 



CUSTOMER 

Dat to hard! Me nuh 'ave nuh teeth. Me nuh won't it. {walks away) 

MARKETWOMAN #2 

Wha yu a come to de market for yu no 'ave no tooth, yu ole' goat! Gowan get away fe me 
tings. [Puncy and Miss Rubie enter] 

MARKETWOMAN #1 

Me 'ave cassava, sista. 

MARKETWOMAN #2 

Come over here, sista. See whame 'ave fe yu. Me 'ave sweet sugar cane... 

PUNCY 

Me sorry, but me no 'ave no money today sista. 

[The Market women began to haggle Puncy who continues to try and explain to them she 
has no money, but they fail to listen.] Yu nuh listen, I said me 'ave nuh money. [Miss Rubie 
ignoring what is happening to Puncy continues to shop for groceries. \ 

MISS RUBIE 

A lady come! How much is de mangos? 

MARKETWOMAN #2 

Just give I a dollar daughta. 

MISS RUBIE 

Cassava, breadfruit, ackee and salt fish, wha else Puncy! It gwan be a long time pan de 
shop. 

PUNCY 

Miss Rubie wait! When me talk yu no lissen. Me say, me money gone! Me no 'ave 
nothin. 

MISS RUBIE 

Sista me neva hear yu, cause all yu doing is talk to yuself No! Worry sista! Miss Rubie 
will take care a it. Bway! Him not a bad man yunno, but him wild! Him no see furda dan 
tip a him nose, him jus like me ex-husband Hurbert 

PUNCY 

Then, Miss Rubie, me neva know yu did married. 

MISS RUBIE 

Yes, child! But now is jus me and de two little ones. Me piece-ha husband Hurbert me 
seh, child, wha a fool-fool man! Jus like Jetta. Him wasn't really a bad. But any 
fooHshness him friend dem keep up, him keep up too. Him come home late every nite, no 



432 



monny or food fe de children dem, no, Puncy, no song no sing so, him ha fe go. Me do 
worst, my time wid come soon Puncy, Darmy is good fe yu and de pickenny-dem, bway! 
Sometimes me really get lonely! Jah know sista, but me time will come; me know dat; so 
yu hold on to dat sista man, Puncy yu here me daughta! 

PUNCY: 

Yu right, Miss Ruble. 

MISS RUBIE: 

Now is not de time to look forward, we 'ave no time to worry about yesterday. 

PUNCY: 

But what me ago do Miss Ruble? We sell everything we 'ave. 

MISS RUBIE: 

Lissen to me sista! Yu believe in GOD? 

PUNCY: 

Of course Miss Ruble. 

MISS RUBIE: 

Well leave in God's hands sista 

PUNCY: 

A friend is need, is really a friend in deed. Thank yu Miss Ruble. 

MISS RUBIE 

We in dis together sista! 

PUNCY 

Irie! Irie sista! 

[Miss Ruble and Puncy exits into the women 's quarters. The market vendors gather up 
their wears and exit through the front gate singing the same market song. The scene ends 
with the entrance of Slick and two shady looking characters.} 



433 



ACT TWO SCENE TWO 
THE DOCUMENTS 

(Noon) 

[Scene begin with Slick talking with two men previously seen during the robbery.] 

SLICK: 

Wha happen, oonu get it? (looking around) Hurry man mi nuh 'ave all day. Mi can't 
afford fi be seen with suppen like oonuh.... 

ROBBER #1: 

Hey bredda, easy man. How yu a gwaan so? Every ting cool. 

SLICK: 

Bway me ask yu a question (grabbing him by the collar). Yu wan I box yu dung? {raising 
his hand as if to slap) Lissen man yu betta straighen yu self. Me sey if yu get it? 

ROBBER #1: 

Man a whe yu a gwan so fa? Leggo off a me shirtfront, before mi no give yu wha yu 
want! 

SLICK: 

A who yu a talk to so? No raise me temperature yu no! Yu get it or not? 

ROBBER #2: 

Yeah, but ut a go cost yu twice as much. 

SLICK: 

A wha yu seh? 

ROBBER #1: 

Yu neva tell we seh we a go get inna trouble. It now a go cost you twice as much. 

SLICK: 

Look man! Me no 'ave time fe dis, (sees someone coming) teck yu money, (slap the 
money in his hand) Gimme dis rass papers. Me no want fer see yu face (pointing) round 
ya again. Yu undastand....Now coom out. [In the exchange one of the documents falls on 
the ground] 

ROBBER #2 

Easy bredda! (motions for them to leave) 

[Enter Lorna the sister at Bredda Jajah 's yard returning early to give a helping hand to 
the people from Claredon. Unexpectedly she ran into Slick. She picked up a piece of 
paper laying beside him and, began reading it.] 



434 



LORNA: 

Well! Hello Slick! How yu doing? Me 'ave a hard day at de market to day. Whe yu get 
dis paper Slick? 

SLICK: 

Lissen woman! Get off a me case yah, wha yu want? wha yu a do ya! Gimme de papa 
before and yu 'ave worries. 

LORNA: 

Why yu a gwaan so Slick? Yu ack like yu 'ave something fe hide. A who fa papa dat 
and, whe yu get it from? Slick who dat man deh? Me see yu wid, neva see him before. 

SLICK: 

Lissen Loma no meek me rude to yu, yunno! Yu a get me real cex. Lissen to me daughta, 
me 'ave a lot a tings pan me mine. Me wi talk to yu later, alright me putus! 

LORNA: 

All right Slick. Me see yu lata. [Gives Slick a sweet smile] 

[Lorna exits into the women 's quarters. Slick exits into the Church. Enters Gabbidan 
from the men 's quarters, he is alone. He sits on the bench outside the quarters, takes out 
a pipe and prepare to smoke it. He strikes a match to light it, then blows the match out 
and stares out in space and begins to talk to himself.] 

GABBIDAN: 

Me can't believe dis. All me papers gone. All but dis. If dis get inna de wrong hands it 
would be disasterous. Why would anyone want fe do dis to we. God help we if it's 
anybody inna dis a movement dat is doing dis. A snake in the grass. Me need to be sure 
dat de people around me are truly faithful and committed to de cause. Dat new guard, wha 
him name is.... Slick. Something about him me just no like at all.... When Jajah come 
back we will 'ave a take about him. In de meantime, me will keep a sharp eye pan him.... 

[Enters Jetta, Danny from the men 's quarters followed by Puncy, Miss Rubie and the 
children. They separately busy themselves with work around the yard. Scene ends with 
all actors on stage] 



435 



ACT TWO SCENE THREE 

INTERROGATION 

(Later that day) 

[The scene opens in the yard of the Jajah Compound. Everyone is busily doing their daily 
routine. Suddenly the Commissioner of Police and several police officers enter. Some 
people quickly moves indoors, other simply freeze in their tracks.] 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

Wha yu want? A wha yu a do hah? 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

I am looking for Gabbidan Murdock from the Parish of Claredon. I have a few questions 
to ask him. 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

I am Gabbidan Murdock. What business yu 'ave wid me sah? Me 'aven't broken de 
law... 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

Just have a few questions to ask you. (pointing to the bench) Sit down and be quiet! You 
will speak only when spoken to. 



BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

Yu ave no business treating me so. What give yu de right fe come and harrass me? 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

You a part of this gathering here? You a part of this Jedadiah Clive group plarming that 
absurd back-to-Africa movement? 

BREDDA GABBIDAN: 

If I am or if I am not is not de real question yu come fe ask me. Yu come fe harrass me 
and me people dem. Wha kind a foolishness is dis? If yu want fe speak to me {gesturing 
to the opposite side ofde bench... pauses says sarcastically) please, have a seat. 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

[Surprised, he hesitantly pauses then looks sternly in the eyes of Gabbidan] Yu are in no 
position of authority to demand such a request. No, I will not sit and speak wid yu, yu 
will come and speak wid de Minister of Justice himself {motions for his officers to 
apprehend him) Arrest him! Take him out of here. 

[FADETOBLACK\ 



436 



ACT TWO SCENE FOUR 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA'S OFFICE 

(Late afternoon) 

[Scene opens with the Premier seated in his office. Enters two of his cabinet members. 
He motions for them to sit.} 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 
Gentlemen, what news do you have to report? 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

he gathering is getting out of control, the crowd seems to be doubling more and more 
wach day. So far it's minor disturbances but, if things keep up, we may need more 
reinforcements. It's just a matter of time before the ship arrives. We'll have a mass 

exodus on our hands.... By the way di I happen to see you down at the Mighty Jajah's 

yard? 

GOVERNOR GENERAL: 
Are you out of your mind? for goodness sake! Get ahold of yourself! 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

Are you sure you weren't down there? 

GOVERNOR GENERAL: 

A man of my status! What would I be dooing down there amongst those commoners? 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

Gentlemen! Gentlemen, please! Well anyway! A fight broke out but they are organize 

down there. This Mighty Jajah, I don't know, he seems to have everj^thing under control 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

Would you excuse us a moment? {talking to the Commissioner of Police). I would like to 
have a word with the Governor General. (Minister of Justice exits) You have to be more 
careful Governor General. We don't have much time, I have given you a day and nothing 
fot done. If the Commissioner ever get wind of what we are doing 

GOVERNOR GENERAL: 

Don't worry sir! 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

Haven't I heard this before? 

GOVERNOR GENERAL: 

The ship will arrive soon, but I don't know exactly when. As soon as I know of it's 
arrival, I bet my reputation on this, they will not leave this island. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

Bet your reputation? You are gambling with your life. 

[Governor General gives the Premier of Justice a disturbed look and exits.] 



437 



ACT TWO SCENE FIVE 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA AND HIS WIFE 

(Late afternoon) 

[Immediately after the Premier's meeting with the Commissioner and the Governor 
General, enters the Premiers wife.] 

PREMIER'S WIFE: 

Norman I've bee trying to reach you all morning, your secretary kept putting me on hold. 

PREMIER OF JAMACIA: 

What's the problem Helen! Are the kids are all right? 

PREMIER'S WIFE: 

Everyone is fine Norman! I've tried to wome you about the situation at the Mighty 
Jajah's yard but, like every other man you believe that a woman's word is not good 
enough. These are my people Norman! I'm more fortunate than those people just because 
I'm married to you, if not I would be down there with my people at Bredda Jajah's yard. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

What are you saying sweetheart? Don't you believe in me. I told you I would take care of 
the situation. The wheel is in motion as we speak sweetheart, the Governor General is 
taking care of the problem. 

PREMIER'S WIFE: 

The Governor General! That man! My mother's good friend Miss Doris told her, she saw 
with here own two eyes the Governor General down at the yard, she even spoke to him. 
He is pretending to be one of the people. And as you know if Miss Doris say she saw him, 
you know she did. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

I know Miss Doris is a woman of good character bout, homey she could have made a 
mistake. Thank you for looking after your husband's best interest/ Don't trouble yourself 
with government problems sweetheart, (kiss his wife) See you tonight. 

[Fade to Black] 



438 



ACT THREE SCENE ONE 

(Next morning) 

[Scene opens with the gathering at Brothers Jajah 's yard celebrating the news that ships 
are coming. Guards in their fineries are seen encircling the gathering for their has been 
word that their is a threat on Brother Jajah 's like. Although they carry no guns, they are 
seem holding huge staffs. \ 

A BREDDA: 

Wo, Yu hear de ship a come, it a come (to crowd). 

A SISTA: 

We aggo home! We aggo home to mada Afrika! (enters Slick) 

GABBIDAN: 

De Mighty Jajah come! [The Mighty Jajah enters with his entourage, dressed in long 
robes accessorized with turbans and waist sashes. He sees Brother Gabbidan and crosses 
over to greet him] 

JAJAH: 

Bredda Gabbie, its good to see yu, how yu feeling man? Bway! It has been a long time 
breddrin. Me sorry me couldn't meet yu when yu arrived. I've been detained by de 
Minister of Justice. Nothing to worry about yu self about anyway, him just want fe cause 
disturbance inna a man brain 

GABBIDAN: 

Him watchdog de Commissioners was here yesterday. 

JAJAH: 

Seh wha? 

GABBIDAN: 

Man dat same two left footed jackass, detained me to de other day. Him ask me questions 
about de American and de movement. 

JAJAH: 

Dat fool ask me de sameting, what did yu tell him? 

GABBIDAN: 

Bway! Maybe de sameting yu tell him [look at each other and smile] 

JAJAH AND GABBIDAN: 

Nothing! 



439 



GABBIDAN: 

Bway! Wid all de troubles we ave fe face, not only dat bredda, but two thieves came inna 
yah and tief me papers, just de other night 

JAJAH: 

A who you think do it? 

GABBIDAN: 

Me no know! 

JAJAH: 

Me ave me suspention bredda. We will talk bout dat later. (smiles and waves at people) 
Me see yu bring more followers. 

GABBIDAN: 

No problem bredda Jajah, me understand. We all yesso. Dis is de last group. They ave 
been waiting a very long time fe see yu. 

JAJAH: 

Yu right bredda. [Crosses to center as crowd gathers around] Breddas and Sistas, we 
aggo soon breddrin to we home, we roots, mother Afrika 

CROWD: 

Afrika! 

JAJAH: 

But before we go we ave some work fe do. We ave fe get our house in a order. Our race, 
our family must get prepared, we must get ready. 



CROWD: 

A wha we fe do? 

JAJAH: 

Brother Marcus Garvey had a vision, a dream dat was not realized. Because of de 
weaknesses and prejudices of man, his movement has layed stagnant. Many breddas and 
sistas tried fulfill de dream. Brother Gabbidan and I ave worked hard to get we all 
organized, to get us disciplined to learn de true word of our people. But some of yu, some 
of de chosen are not ready? 

CROWD: 

No, we ready fe go! Tell us, what we aggo do? 



440 




x\R T«*|l»» 



441 



JAJAH: 

Brother Marcus knew it all too well bredda, when he asked... "Where can we find in dis 
race of ours real men. Men of character, men of purpose, men of confidence, men of faith, 
men who really know themselves?. ..So few of us can understand what it takes to meek 
man-de man who will never say die; de man who will never give up; de man who will 
never depend upon others to de fe him what him ought to do fe himself; de man who will 
not blame God, who will not blame nature, who will not blame fate fe his condition; but 
de man will go out and meek conditions suit himself. Oh, how disgusting life becomes 
when on every hand yu hear people (who beat your image, who bear your resemblance) 
telling yu dat they cannot meek it, dat Fate is against them, dat they cannot get a chance. 
If.. .the Black breddas and sistas can only get to know themselves to know dat in them is a 
sovereign power, is a authority dat is absolute, then in de next twenty-four hours we would 
ave a new race, we would ave a nation... resurrected, not fi-om de will of others to see us 
rise-but from our own determination to rise, irrespective of what de world thinks." 
Breddas and sistas we a leave soon, prepare yourselves, be ready. Ships a come soon to 
teck us home, back home to madda Afi-ica, but we can only go as one people, with one 
true destiny, with one true purpose. Breddas and sistas prepare, get ready, we aggo home 
soon. 

[Jajah exits to his quarters)[Scene ends with gatherers moving inside the quarters. 

The light fades.] 



442 



ACT THREE SCENE TWO 

JAJAH'S HOUSE 

(Later that day) 

[It's night, slick is seen rummaging around in Bredda Jajah house looking for something. 
Not making a sound, Slick knowing exactly what he is looking for searches for important 
papers pertaining to the "Movement. " Just as he finds what he is looking for, he 
accidentally bumps into a table lamp that falls to the floor. The sound rouses someone in 
the other room. The scene begins as we hear the sound of footsteps approaching and 
watch Slick in a hurry trying to conceal the papers and money he has found. Enters 
Bredda Jajah startling Slick who is caught red handed with evidence in hand.} 

JAJAH: 

Whe yu a do inna mi place? 

SLICK: 

Bredda Jajah, me just a pass through! Me come fe check yu. 

JAJAH: 

Wha yu ave inna yu hand SUck? 

SLICK: 

Nothing man, just me personal belongs. 

JAJAH: 

You expect me if believe dat. Wha yu a doing wid me personal belongs? 

SLICK: 

Me just did a look fe a safe place fe put it. 

JAJAH: 

Safe place? How yu know bout dem papers. {Holding up the papers) Man! you know 
wha yu holding, yu know wha dis is? Dis a de people dem freedom! 

SLICK: 

Me just saw it laying there Bredda Jajah! 

JAJAH: 

Yu tink me a idiot, me look like me bom backa cow! Me never left de papers laying deh. 
Dem paper was already irma a safe place. 

SISTER'S VOICE: 

The council meeting is about to begin 



443 



JAJAH: 

{letting Slick go, softly says)A wi deal wid yu later. 

SLICK 

:(look startled, turns and exits) 

SISTER: 

Bredda Jajah? 

JAJAH: 

(looking at Slick leaving) A will be rite dere 

(EXIT FADE) 



444 



ACT THREE SCENE THREE 

(Next morning) 

[Scene opens in the yard of Brother Jajah's house. We see Miss Lorna conversing with 
Miss Doris, one of the principle caretaker of the gathering of the congregation. The two 
are preparing food.] 

MISS DORIS: 

Miss Lorna, tell me something, is how long you been seeing dat man, whe him name? 

MISS LORNA: 

Who yu a talk about? Yu mean Slick? 

MISS DORIS: 

There is something 1 don't like about him, you know. I get dis feeling he can't be trusted. 
How can yu bring yourself fe be with him. There's something muh too right about him. 

MISS LORNA: 

Him alright, yu nuh. when yu get fe know him. Sometimes him act a bit wild. 

MISS DORIS: 

Wild you say. Wild a nuh de word for him is more like strange, crazy. Mad yes, now dat 
is what him is....maad. 

MISS LORNA: 
Now me wouldn't say dat yurmo. {laugh) But, lately he seems a bit preoccupied. Like 
something major is on his mind. 

MISS DORIS: 

You never did answer me you know. A h ow long you know him? 

MISS LORNA: 

Just a little while, but you know is not dat what bothering yu. Me known yu too long, fe 
you beat around de bush wid me. Out with it sista. 

MISS DORIS: 

Dat Slick is up to no good. Dat dog. 

MISS LORNA: 

We ave dis talk before and really me no want fe hear it again. (ge«/>7g up to leave) 

MISS DORIS: 

Wait sista! Just hear wha me ave fe say. Me never steer yu wrong before, right? 

MISS LORNA: 

No, you right, go ahead, say wha you ave fe say, since, I know me can't get yu fe shut 
mouth until yu done say everything. 



445 



MISS DORIS: 

The other night when I was helping that other gathering settle down out side the yard, I 
saw Slick talking to two people. It was dark and I was more minding what I had to do that 
I didn't pay it much attention then, its been bothering me since. 

MISS LORNA: 

But Miss Doris, wha strange about dat? Breddas talk all de time. 

MISS DORIS: 

Well soon as me get in side. I hear a big commotion. Me rush outside fe see what's going 
on and me see a Bredda down, bleeding. Blood all over de place. 

MISS LORNA: 

So what are you trying fe say? Wha yu talk bout? 

MISS DORIS: 

Yu know. Yu was there. De other night. 

MISS LORNA: 

Yu mean when me teck care a de Rasta man? 



MISS DORIS: 

There you go again. Dat's wha I'm saying 

MISS LORNA: 

Yu must be mistaken. Slick wasn't inna dis yard. Him was wid Bredda Jajah himself. 

MISS DORIS: 

How yu know dat. Dat night I talk wid Bredda Jajah and Slick wasn't deh. If you don't 
believe me word ask Bredda Jajah personally. 

MISS LORNA: 

Me aggo do just dat. 

[Fade] 



446 



ACT THREE SCENE FOUR 

JAJAH'S HOUSE 

(later that day) 

[Slick come running out of breath into Bredda Jajah 's yard] 

SLICK: 

Bredda Jajah we inna trouble. Yu hear dat, di crowd a come fi kill wi rass. Dem say we 
rob dem money. Dem so upset mi nuh know wha wi a go do fi calm dem dung. 

JAJAH: 

What on earth are yu talking about? Mi nuh di di people dem nutten, ~Whe dem a go kill 
mi fa? Yu sure a nuh yu dem a come belongings and find out dat di money gone. Did yu 
tink fi a moment dat tiefing di money would stop di movement. Di movement is bigger 
dan yu an mi an nutten dat yu can do, a go stop it. Besides, mi did ave mi eyes pan yu fi 
a wile and mi know yu motives, even a blind man can a yu evilness. 

CROWD 

(there is a knock at the door) bredda Jajah! Bredda Jajah! We wan see yu, we wan see 
yu now! 

BREDDA: 

Me wan mi money! Dem seh yu fief I money! Tell we dat a nuh true! 

SISTA: 

No Bredda, Bredda Jajah nuh tief I money a Slick! 

CROWD: 

Yu sure? How yu know? Whe di money?.... 

SISTA: 

Mi hear him tell one a him breddrin bout it 

JAJAH: 

Yu hear dat? Yu hear dat? Dem know just who and what you are. Dem come fi yu! 
(shoves him towards the door) Go now and meet yu demise! (Bredda Jajah shoves Slick 
towards the door, and continues to shove him) 

CROWD: 

Slick! We want wi money! Thief! Judas! 

SLICK: 

No Breddah Jajah, yu got mi all wrong. Mi tell you seh mi neve thief the money. 
Mi. ..mi. ..just did hold it fi yu dat's all. Mi just did a hold it fi safe keeping. Bredda Jajah 
yu a di last person dat mi woulda tink fi rob. Help mi out nuh before di ole pirate dem 
kill mi. Mi know seh dem wi lissen to yu and believe yu too. 



447 




<^%**.f 



448 

BREDDA JAJAH: 

Liar. Yu finally meet yu match, (shoves him out of the door) 

SISTA 

(to SlJck)But mi nuh see yu imia Bredda Jajah yard di odda day when di robbery tek 
place. Mi see yu a talk to di odda two dem but mi neva tink much a it but me know, yu 
jus as guilty as dem. 

SLICK: 

Yu see me! Yu mussy black up or under waters. Oman just gway fram mi and go tek 
care a yu business before it spoil pan yu. Yu fava mi granny ole halfa foot donkey. If a 
box yu, yu pis pan yu heel. Gwaan home a yu yard moutha massey. Dat's why di old 
dead ass man whe yu did ave left yu, Yu walk and chat people business too much. Yu 
old fart yu. 

SISTA: 

Ole tief! gimme mi life savings before me and di res a people dem kill yu cooyah. 

[The crowd circles Slick as he attempts to run away. The Commissioner is seen coming 
onto the scene. He yells at the crowd to stop, but there is no response. The 
Commissioner pulls out his gunfires a warning shot, the shot startled the crowd, enough 
for Slick to break away. He begins running in the direction of the Commissioner. The 
Commissioner orders him to stop but he does not respond. Slick continues to run 
towards the Commissioner. The Commissioner fires once at Slick, he falls to the ground. 
The crowd freezes. The light fades to black.] 



449 



ACT THREE SCENE FIVE 

(ext day) 

[At he fence. Lorna in the gate, she hurries towards Jetta 's group. They are asleep. She 
shakes Jetta.] 

LORNA: 

[In a whisper] Jetta! Wake up! 

JETTA: 

Wha de time? Wha appenin? 

LORNA: 

Shhh..Wlia happen man, yu want fe wakeup de whole world! Keep yu voice down. 

JETTA: 

Wha wrong wid yu sista! Yu wake a man and yu no expect him fe get loud. 

[Jetta gets up. Lorna pulls out of hearing] 

LORNA: 

Chuch...Rest yu self rasta. Me sey Slick ketch him full length! 

JETTA: 

Slick! Slick who! Wha yu say. 

LORNA: 

Meek yu get so fool-fool when yu sleep man! Me say Slick! De Mighty Jajah's so-call 
main guard. 

JETTA: 

Who! Yu say! Dat mawga old fool! Wha yu wan me fe do baby. 

LORNA: 

Man! Me say fe keep yu voice down. Get up... 

JETTA: 

Wha yu wan me fe de Lorna? Me look like de Minister Of Justice. [Violently pulls her 
towards him] No mine baby! Lissen daughta no waist yu time pan dat fool, let's spend 
dis time on each other, [gives her a kiss] 

LORNA: 

[Lorna answer Jetta in a troubled tone] Dat's all yu man ting of, rapping up. Yu no 
believe there is more to life and dis movement than love-up. 



450 



JETTA: 

No worry yu self sista! I man will teck care a everyting. 

LORNA: 

Is time we work together as one people and stop the fighting. 

JETTA: 

No worry yu self daughta! me will take care of me one an only. 

LORNA: 

But Jetta! Wha bout de people dem. Rememda yu all coming from a long way. 

JETTA: 

Dem! I man no business wid dem. Dem can teck care of dem self 

LORNA: 

Let me unda stand someting Jetta. Yu an these people lived in de same district fe years, 
travel together from Claredon to Kingston, and yu no business wid dem. Dem how yu 
find time fe business wid me. 

[Jetta move towards Lorna to hold her hand, with fury in her eyes Lorna walk awayl] 



JETTA: 

Lorna baby! No gwan so, yu is me one an only. Puttus I man really love sweetie-pie! 



[FADE OUT] 



451 



ACT THREE SCENE SIX 

THE PREMIER OF JAMAICA'S CHAMBERS 

(later that day) 

[In the Premier 's office, the Premier is seen sitting confused and dismayed because there 
is no word from the Governor General about the looting and shooting at the Mighty 
Jajah's yard. Over the intercom the secretary announced that the Commissioner of 
Police is here to see the Premier.] 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

Commissioner! What is he doing here at this time of the day? Please ask him to come in, 
thank you. 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

Your Excellency, the situation at the Mighty Jajah's yard is one for the history books! 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

What really happen down there Commissioner? 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

Looting and shooting broke out at Bredda jajah's yard. Five people got killed, I believed 
that the Mighty Jajah maybe among the dead. Earlier this morning he gave a speech, I 
don't know what it was all about. The people got very upset. Apparently someone 
infiltrated their group to sabotage his movement. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

Commissioner, what are you saying to me? What are you trying to say Commissioner? 
Out with it man! 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

All hell broke loose! The man who infiltrate the group, tried to get away. Fists where 
flying. 1 fired a warning shot in the air in an attempt to calm the crowd down but, the 
crowd pay me no attention. And this character, came running towards me. I yelled "Stop 
or I'll shoot," but he kept on coming. He left me no choice, I fired only once, he 
dropped. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

Go on, man! Goon!... 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

I rush over to see who he was, I was stunned. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

What are you trying to say Commissioner! For haven sakes! Get on with it man. 



452 



COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

Your Excellency! It was no surprises to me, there were rumor that someone was 
masquerading as one of the followers. But I did not believed it, but when I saw him 
there, all the pieces of the puzzle came together. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

Out with it man, who was it? 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

This man named himself Slick. Prime Minister, h was the one and only Governor 
General, the name Slick fit him like a cheap suit, and he wore it very well. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

The Governor General? My right-hand man? You have made some kind of mistake 
Commissioner! Where is he now? 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

The knife twisted "even" deeper your Excellency. The Governor General is dead. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

You killed the Governor General! (Sternly looks at him). 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

No sir! I killed a common thief. 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

Word must not get out about this Commissioner! Our reputation and jobs will be on the 
line. 

COMMISIONER OF POLICE: 

My reputation! It is just fine your Excellency. Are you concerned about yours? 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

We must take care of this little problem very quickly, without the whole country knowing 
about it. 

COMMISSIONER OF POLICE: 

Little problem? We you say? No, no, no, sir. You will take care of this little problem 
yomsQlf. (Commissioner walks out in a huff. The slowly light fades around the Premier of 
Jamaica frantically pacing back-and-forth talking to himself.) 

PREMIER OF JAMAICA: 

What am I going to do? I'm ruined! What am I going to do? (repeat) 

[FADE TO BLACK] 



453 




454 



ACT THREE SCENE SEVENl 
5 years later 

NARATION: 

[Heard offstage] 

The date 18th November that Jajah set for the coming of repatriation ended in failure. 
Hundreds of followers, believers in the movement, were sent away since the government 
confiscated the resources needed for this exodus. Many of his followers fled and went 
into hiding. In the wake of this setback, Jajah blamed the government for thwarting his 
efforts to repatriate the believers and called on his congregation to take up an armed 
revolt. What started as a peaceflil movement turned bloody. Those who took up the 
attempted armed struggle were captured, charged with treason and subsequently 
sentenced to death by hanging Jedidiah Clives, once reared to the status of prophet was 
arrested and sentenced to death for treason. Brother Gabbidan his compatriate was also 
arrested for treason and sentenced to life in prison. Brother Jetta wanted for treason fled 
and has not been seen since. Its seems that with all the leaders removed from power the 
government's goal to destroy the movement at all cost had succeeded. 

For several years the dream of the repatriation seemed over. As the goverrmient gained 
independence from England it appeared the government had won the hearts of the people. 
But their were still members of the movement determined to keep the dream alive. Sisters 
Ruble and Puncy, for ten years during Gabbidan's incarceration remained faithful to the 
movement. They remained at the Jajah compound determined to keep the dream alive. 
They operated a learning centre on African culture at the Jajah compound. At first many 
stayed away for fear of reprisal from the police. But after a while the followers returned. 
They re-established close contact with Minister Douglas and the members of his temple. 
Minister Douglas periodically forwarded news of the Civil Rights Movement in the 
United States, which encouraged the members to reaffirm their commitments to their 
own, movement. 

The Repatriation to Africa Movement, now less radical in appearance, maintained a 
moderate existence. As political change took place in Jamaica, movements such as this 
began to again gained popularity. The idea of looking at ones blackness globally rather 
than locally became the new ideology of the masses. A few years later the Ship did 
arrive! Ms. Rubie and Puncy's children were a part of the first group to travel to Africa. 
The ship landed on the shore of Elmina Castle at Cape Coast. Ghana. This slave castle 
was the site of the major slave trade from the West African coast. A historical site for all, 
especially the Maroons of Jamaica who have traced their African roots directly back to 
this very spot. The travelers were welcomed and greeted warmly. They soon discovered 
that their roots in Africa, was a stronger bond than they could have ever imagined. This 
was truly a joyous occasion. It appeared that time healed old wounds, the government 
officials who once outlawed the movement were ousted out of power soon after 
independence. Although those surviving members of the movement were eventually 
exonerated of all charges, there was still no word of Jetta and Loma's whereabouts. 



455 




456 



Because of the popularity and pressure from the masses, soon after Gabbidan was 
released from prison. A bit older and grayer than before, he stilled had the youthful 
twinkle in his eyes and spirit in his heart. In a rather short span of time he was re- 
established as his community's leader. And with the government of Jamaica now giving 
formal recognition to the late Brother Jedidiah Clives as a national hero for his service to 
Jamaican society, many people came expressing a desire to repatriate. 

[Scene opens at a memorial service for the late Brother Jajah. Gabbidan is seen 
preaching to his followers at Jajah 's church. The congregation is large and made up of 
a cross section of dignitaries, Government officials and community leaders representing 
all levels of Jamaican society. Seated at the head table are the Prime Minister of 
Jamaica, The Governor General, Minister Douglas, Ms. Rubie Bailey, Ms. Puncy Green 
her son DJ and his wife.] 

GABBIDAN: 

Breddas and Sistas, we are gathered here today for did special occasion to honor de 
memory of Bredda Jajah, a founding member of de repatriation movement, a pillar of de 
community, a well respected leader, and a very close friend. When Bredda Jajah and I 
were just little boys we were fortunate to learn of Marcus Garvey's teaching. It was 
those teachings that inspired us to dedicate our lives for de betterment of our people. 
Unfortunately today I stand up here alone wid out I friend, someone who I shared a lot 
with. As youths I and he had de rare privilege to experience first hand Bredda Marcus 
Garvey's vision of de future. I am sure at dis occasion he would want I to share with you 
dis vision. 

[Removes from breast pocket spectacles and a folded sheet of paper, which he unfolds 
and begins to read.] 

Bredda Marcus Garvey yu no, had a vision of de future. He saw before him a picture of a 
redeemed Africa, with her dotted cities, with her beautiful civilization, with her millions 
of happy children, going to and fro. Him never lost hope! The Mighty Jajah never lost 
hope. Why should we? Jah knows we ave been through a life-long struggle. Many 
times we reached a point of giving up hope. But we know all to well dat if we give up 
hope it means dat we teck a back place in this age of progress forever. No! No I tell yu. 

Bredda Marcus said to Bredda Jajah and I, we must believe in de one God, de God of 
Africa and of de Black Race. ..he taught us that we must see our God through the 
spectacles [gesturing to his own] of Ethiopia.... That the African must ave a theology 
rooted in conformity with his own physical appearance. 

De Black man must take power of every kind-power dat is exclusive. De Black man 
must be in apposition to determine his own destiny. He can do dis only when he has 
power firmly in his own black hands... De power which our race needs at dis time can 
only be realized by action from wid in our own closed institutions, [he moves to the side 
of the podium] God created yu Lords, take yourselves out of the mire and hitch your 
hopes to de stars; [move down center towards congregation and veiled object] yes, rise as 



457 



high as de very stars demselves. Let no man pull you down, let no man destroy you 
ambition 

[Entering through the door are Jetta and Lorna also dressed in West Africa attire. They 
walk towards Jajah and the veiled object. \ 

JETTA: 

{interrupts loudly] Let no man destroy I man's dreams 

LORNA: 

Let no one destroy your hope. [They both embrace Brother Gabbidan and continue 
speaking] 

JETTA: 

Keep your head above the water and praise Jah!. 

GABBIDAN: 

[touched] Irie bredda! [takes Jetta 's and Lorna 's hands placing them over his heart.] I 
man ave Jah word inna I man heart. 



LORNA: 

Let's not lose sight of our dreams. In Bredda Jajah's memory, we must all keep the 
faiXh.[Gabbidan takes both of their hand along with his and together they all lift off the 
veil over the object, uncovering a bust of The Mighty Jajah.] 

[All rise and join in signing:] 

ALL: 

O Africa Awaken! 
The Morning is at Hand, No more art thou forsaken, 
O bounteous motherland. For far thy sons and daughters 
Are hastening back to thee, Their cry rings o'er the waters 
That Africa shall be free. 

[Fade to audio/visuals of Jamaica and Africa of the mid 70 's depicting the triumphs of 
independence with music. General exit of all actors, spotlight centered on statue of 
Jedadiah Cleaves, The Mighty JaJah.] 

[END] 



458 




459