On July 5, 1954, the "colored" elementary school in Hillsboro, Ohio went up in flames; and my sweet, segregated hometown was jolted awake. The County Engineer, determined to force integration, struck the match on that hot summer night that sent him to the state penitentiary (and into the FBI files) and sparked five African American mothers to stage a two-year protest. The "school fight" caught the attention of Thurgood Marshall, fresh from the Brown v. Board of Education victory (May 1954), who sent one of his chief strategists, Constance Baker Motley, to Ohio to represent the Mothers in the first test case for the Brown decision in the North.
"The end is forgiveness. The end is reconciliation. The end is the creation of the beloved community." ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I was in the third grade, absorbing the cultural commotion. Fifty years after seeing the Marching Mothers outside Mrs. Mallory's classroom window, I went back to my hometown to find them.
The cultural detective story is informed by historical research and extensive interviews with key players locally and nationally, whose voices form the heart of the story. The play is a weaving of movement, monologues, and images, backed by an evocative music score by jazz composer David Ornette Cherry, directed by Susan Banyas, with additional choreography by Gregg Bielemeier.
"...stocked with arresting images, poignant emotional truths and disturbing historical perspective." ~ The Oregonian