— A Book, a Play, and an Event!
Above, slideshow of the presentation in the Congressional Auditorium, Washington, D.C. Left, link to the latest presentation, October 29, 2016.
The People of Clarendon County is a groundbreaking short play written in 1955 by Ossie Davis and appearing in print for the first time in the book by journalist, Aesthetic Realism Associate, and editor Alice Bernstein. The publisher is Third World Press (Chicago), the respected independent black-owned publishing house founded by Dr. Haki Madhubuti.
In her introduction, Alice Bernstein tells of the conversations with Ossie Davis in 2004 that led to the unearthing of this play and the idea for the book. With Mr. Davis's encouragement, she gathered documents and photographs about the unsung heroes of Clarendon County that make history come alive, and essays by authorities on the education that can end racism: Aesthetic Realism, founded by the philosopher and critic, Eli Siegel.
Here through the art of the drama, the beloved actor, activist, and author Ossie Davis (whose bio appears at the right) gives life to a pivotal, little known chapter in Civil Rights history. We meet the Reverend Joseph DeLaine and other courageous African-American parents in South Carolina who, in the 1950s, fought against racial inequality in education. They risked their lives to file the first legal challenge to segregation in the public schools — one later combined with other cases in the landmark "Brown v. Board of Education."
|(Left, or Below) Former NY mayor David Dinkins, Ruby Dee, and Alice Bernstein spoke at a performance of "The People of Clarendon County" at the Schomburg Center for the Study
of Black Culture in New York City.
Ossie Davis wrote the play to celebrate the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing public school segregation. The play was performed just once, in 1955, for an enthusiastic audience of union brothers and sisters at Local 1199's Bread and Roses Cultural Project in New York City. The young actors were Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and Sidney Poitier.
In an event at the Harlem School of the Arts in New York City on November 28, 2007, with Ruby Dee as a featured guest, the book was launched and the play was publically presented for the first time in over 50 years. The overflow audience learned about the causes of racism and the answer given by Aesthetic Realism. They learned about the enormously successful Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method, which, for over 35 years, has been enabling children at all grade levels and in all economic conditions to learn every subject in the curriculum and to become kinder!
Award-winning actor Ruby Dee, wife of Ossie Davis, writes:
"It moved my husband to think that fifty years later, school children might learn about history by reading or acting in his play. In addition, Alice's book will also inform people about the success of the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method in enabling children to learn every subject, and ending prejudice in the classroom."
Ruby Dee is shown above with Alice Bernstein and the student actors in the historic presentation at the Harlem School of the Arts. And this is only the beginning of the story.
This educational/performance event is now being presented nationwide—free to the public-—in schools, colleges, universities, churches, community organizations, and museums."The People of Clarendon County" has been presented in the Congressional Auditorium of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, with featured guests: House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Congressmen John Conyers (MI) and Elijah E. Cummings (MD) of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Jose E. Serrano (NY).
Standing Room Only! On Sunday, February 19, we presented "The People of Clarendon County"—A Play by Ossie Davis, & the Answer to Racism! to over 430 people, as the opening event of the Southeast Regional Black Male Summit in Columbia, South Carolina. Click here for the flyer.
We were invited by the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs and the Brotherhood of Achievers Determined to Make a Difference (BADD), with a grant from the SC Humanities Council and support by SC African American Heritage Commission and University of South Carolina-African American Studies Department. The summit's urgent theme was Closing the Achievement Gap: Cutting the Pipeline to Prison and, in many ways, it was a tribute to the power of education to change people's lives. The audience of students, educators, parents, mentors, and community leaders, heard diverse speakers tell what they learned from the education Aesthetic Realism that strengthened their love for knowledge and enabled them to see people different from themselves with greater justice and kindness.
Ossie Davis's 1955 civil rights play, which honors the brave black parents in rural South Carolina who, in the 1940s and '50s risked everything to legally challenge unequal education--was brought
(continued, col. 2)
To view a slideshow of the event click on the photo above.