A gospel play with music, DOWN IN MISSISSIPPI explores the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, as three college students – an African-American man, a white woman and a white man – travel to the dangerous world of Mississippi in 1964 to register Negro voters. Along the way, they discover that they have to change themselves in order to change the world.
Situation: Jimmy, a black college student from New York City, contemplates what makes a hero and finds it in a surprising place. He is actively trying to transform his anger into something more productive through non-violence training so he can go “down to Mississippi” to help register “negro” voters.
Subject Matter: Civil Rights, Voters’ Rights, Segregation, Racism, Activism, The American South, Social Justice, History, Love, Transformation
Note from Playwright: My intention is not only to make a little-known history more accessible, but to also generate a conversation between the past and the present, to encourage young people concerned with racism today to consider the personal and political motivations and the struggles of their counterparts a half a century ago.
Supplemental Information: DOWN IN MISSISSIPPI was originally commissioned by the Theater Department in the School of Fine Arts and the Center for American and World Cultures, Miami University in Ohio, home of Western Women’s College where Freedom Summer activists were trained in non-violence and made ready to face the dangerous world of Mississippi in 1964. DOWN IN MISSISSIPPI was developed with support from the Playwrights’ Center and the Guthrie Theater.
See Videos below to watch Carlyle Brown talk about the play along with actors sharing their experiences with the story.
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