Down in Mississippi
- Theater Arts
DOWN IN MISSISSIPPI: A Gospel Play with music
By Carlyle Brown
Down in Mississippi takes place during the Freedom Summer campaign to register African-Americans to vote in the dangerous, segregated world of Mississippi in 1964, and explores the transformational experiences of three young civil rights activists who leave their safe northern homes to go down to Mississippi to try to change the world and discover that before they can change the world they will have to change themselves. A celebration of a movement that gave birth to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voter’s Rights Act of 1965.
Performances will take place promenade style in the reading room of the East Side Freedom Library where the audience will both surround and be immersed in events of the past that resonate with the state of our current social and political tensions. Our shared intention is not only to make a little-known history more accessible, but to also generate a conversation between the past and the present, to encourage young people concerned with racism today to consider the personal and political motivations and the struggles of their counterparts a half a century ago. Collateral programs have been designed to deepen the conversations with screenings of such films as Eyes on the Prize, Freedom Riders and Freedom Summer, along with panels with a mix of civil rights movement veterans and contemporary activists.
The production of Down in Mississippi is a partnership with Carlyle Brown & Company and the East Side Freedom Library, a non-profit organization in a historic Carnegie Library with a focus on immigration, labor, African American and social justice history. Down in Mississippi was originally commissioned by the Theater Department in the School of fine Arts and the Center for American and world Cultures, Miami University or Ohio, home of Western Women’s College where Freedom Summer activists were trained in non-violence and made ready to face the dangerous world of Mississippi in 1964. Down in Mississippi was developed with support from the Playwrights’ Center and the Guthrie Theater.