NYC High School Classes Invited to “Freedom High” Civil Rights Play


SNCC staff leads volunteers in freedom songs during the second 1964 SNCC Orientation Session at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio. In the front of the audience, right, is Fannie Lou Hamer and, left, SNCC staff member Chuck Neblett. Courtesy McCain Library and Archives, University of Southern Mississippi.

SNCC staff leads volunteers in freedom songs during the SNCC Orientation in Oxford, Ohio. Fannie Lou Hamer (r) and Chuck Neblett (l). Photo by Herbert Randall, McCain Library and Archives, USM.

“Freedom High,” a civil rights movement play, will be performed Monday Feb. 24th at 10am at Queens College’s Goldstein Theater and will be open to selected high school classes*.

The play by Adam Kraar is set in Oxford, Ohio, in late June of 1964 at the orientation and training session for the young volunteers who are about to go south to help with Mississippi voter registration campaigns, freedom schools, and the challenge at Atlantic City Democratic Party convention. The northern volunteers and experienced civil rights activists have come together on a college campus to discuss the goals and risks of the Mississippi summer project and the tactics of non-violent direct action. The dramatic tension in the play builds from the announcement that three young people – two CORE staff (one black, one white) and one (white) summer volunteer – who had attended the first week of orientation are now missing in Neshoba County, MS (and are probably dead). Intense personal and policy decisions face the young volunteers and activists as they get ready to go south.

The dramatic reading with music is produced and directed by Professor Susan Einhorn.  The cast is made up of a combination of Queens College students and professional Equity actors (including a number of QC alumni).

If teachers are interested in bringing a class, they should contact Mark Levy, Special Assistant to the President for the Civil Rights Initiative–2013-2014. There will be preparation and follow-up materials for classes selected to attend. (It is understood that this date may be difficult given the NYC public school calendar, but a number of outside criteria determined the date’s selection.)

*About 150 of the theater’s seats that day have been reserved for NYC-area high school students. There is no fee, but there will be a selection and advance reservation process. High schools in Queens are particularly encouraged to apply. Also, a community-focused performance is scheduled for Sunday afternoon Feb. 23 at 2pm, if any teachers are interested in seeing the play then.