“Of One Blood” by Andrew White

“Of One Blood”

by Andrew White

Narrated by: David Schwimmer, Lee Arenberg, John Cothran Jr., Judyann Elder, Arye Gross, Valerie Landsburg, Macon McCalman

Length: 1 hr and 23 mins

Published November 1st 2009 by L.A. Theatre Works

So what is the difference between today’s civil rights movement and the civil rights movement of the 60s? I think the best answer is that today we are just tired of it. Years have gone by, voices have shouted, been shouted down and even silenced through violence but has anything really been done? Yes and No. At least now we don’t have separate water fountains, bus seats and schools, so yeah progress has been made. Has it been enough? I grew up in the south and know firsthand that up until the mid 80s racism was still the norm (that’s when I moved to the midwest U.S. and can’t provide the firsthand experience for what goes on now).

I have lived throughout the south during the 70s and 80s (Montgomery, AL, Yazoo City, MS, Meridian, MS, et. al.) In Yazoo City, MS in the early 80s they still had seperate school buses for blacks and whites. Same pickup location same dropoff location, just different races allowed. I found this out by accidentally getting on the “black” bus my first day. One guy said I was on the wrong bus, but not in a threatening manner, but once I arrived at the school and was the white boy on the black bus, I was shunned by nearly all whites at that school from then on. In Montgomery, AL a black student (friend of mine) was called “boy” and physically abused by a science teacher, when we brought this up to the principal, he simply said he was sure we were mistaken. When my black friend left the principal told me that I should keep my northern attitude back up north while attending Jefferson Davis High School. We held a protest only a few kids showed up but it got nowhere. So yeah the civil rights movement of the 60s did great in the north but the south stays the same.

To this day I shed a few tears and get lumps in my throat when I hear of all this still going on. This play I knew was gonna be sad, but it should be. In this play the author mixes some poetic moments with historical moments to create what really should be an eye opener. The three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner (2 Jews and a Black) weren’t rabble rousers, they were only talking with people and gathering evidence about a church burning. The folks in Mississippi simply saw anyone who worked with blacks and blacks themselves as creatures not worth living. There were numerous people that could have helped and saved these 3 young mens lives, instead the south is gonna south. This play not just covers their historical deaths, but also seeks to show them as simple human beings just wanting to stop the senseless violence in a non-violent way.

I really think this play should be added as part of middle school or at least high school curriculum. The lessons learned are needed today, probably more so.

There isn’t one person today that can say racism is dead. All you have to do is drive through the south or heck, even in the midwest we have idiots waving their confederate flags, knowing full well how racist that flag is. That flag represents a sect that wanted blacks to remain slaves and never be treated as human beings. That flag also represents a country that lost a war. That is not the only similarity shared with the Nazi flag.

I heard a black comedian once say that the confederate flag is very useful, it tells him what businesses or homes not to enter.

I will once again highly recommend this L.A. Theatre works production of this play. The actors make this reality even more real.

Publisher’s Summary

Of One Blood is a poignant and disturbing play about the infamous murder of three civil rights workers – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner – in Mississippi in 1964.

©2009 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2009 L.A. Theatre Works