This month, our most eclectic feature writer, Lydia Bogar, walks us through quite a host of recommended books, articles, and even opera focused on civil rights. But perhaps the most powerful of all, Kander and Ebb’s musical, The Scottsboro Boys, at Speakeasy.
MY POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH
By Lydia Bogar
If I hadn’t been so impressed by the book and then the film, The Help, I might not have read The Warmth of Other Suns which I read, ingested, and then donated to my neighborhood library for others to take in as well. A resurgence of civil rights issues in 2011. That reminds me of a journal article that I wrote about the young black lady who was my uncle’s housekeeper when he retired to Florida in 1956.
Also in the summer of 2011, I watched the incredible performances of Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the ART. This was my first visit to the ART, and sitting in the fourth row intensified the experience. The minimalist stage setting, the lyrics, and the performers’ facial expressions remain clear and vibrant in my memory.
If I hadn’t been in Emily and Beth’s New Yorker Non-Fiction discussion course this past term, I might have missed the significance of “Justice Delayed” a very intense article with reference to Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy, which so impressed me that I read the library’s copy and then bought my own.
More intense discussions both, in class and in the Gathering Place, have helped in my post-election survival. There are so many educated activists that our country can and will grow. Emotionally, this phase is referred to as post-traumatic growth.
The New Yorker always returns me to the style and substance of Calvin Trillin. Calvin may be best known for his foodie rants and raves (and tours which I hope to take one day), but most recently, I have read Jackson, 1964, his intense reflection on the Civil Rights movement and the journalists who worked very hard to deliver that message. Jackson, 1964 reminded me of the long silent walk from Worcester State College to downtown Worcester on Friday, April 5, 1968. Dr. Martin Luther King had been assassinated the day before; classes were cancelled; our student body stopped protesting the war in Vietnam and mourned the life of Dr. King.
The road that we are on now, including the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue that will soon host an inaugural parade, has included two powerful lessons that will sustain us going forward: Fences, a powerful August Wilson play about discrimination in Philadelphia in volatile 1950’s, and The Scottsboro Boys which has come alive on the Speakeasy Stage at the Calderwood Pavilion.
If you know the story, you still need to see the play. If you have seen the play, I suggest reading it and seeing it again. The Speakeasy artists and their technical staff have given a great gift to the City of Boston. The venue itself is perfect– sparse and small, ideal for the re-creation of 1930’s vaudeville. To tell the story of nine black boys and ten trials–plus a vase presented to The Supreme Court–is a courageous and inspiring pledge. Including cameo-like appearances by people like George Wallace and Rosa Parks is artful.
Whether you avail yourself of the BOLLI discount or not, you must see The Scottsboro Boys before it closes on January 22. It will contribute to your overall knowledge and sustain you on the political road ahead. The show was extended from its original run scheduled to end in November–perhaps because it is such a valuable part of our post-traumatic growth.
Former English teacher, health care professional, and quintessential Renaissance woman of all trades, Lydia Bogar joined BOLLI in the spring of 2016 after returning home from a stint in South Carolina where she dipped into another OLLI program. “It’s good to be here!” she exclaims. (And it’s good to have her.)