By the end of July, the Freedom School students were in high spirits, liberated by the Freedom School curriculum and an open classroom atmosphere. Although they had responded thoughtfully in English classes to Black Boy, they were less enthusi-astic about James Baldwin’s depiction of urban dilemmas in Go Tell It on the Mountain. Having at last found a place where they could express long-suppressed ideas about matters closer to their own lives, they wanted to work on subjects less literary and more politi-cal. We hastened through the book and turned to projects they found more rewarding: rehearsing In White America under Barbara Schwartzbaum’s direction with students from St. John Freedom School for a performance at the community center on August 1st. Martin Duberman’s drama about the history of black people in this country from slavery to modern times was based on documented words from well-known figures such as Nat Turner, John Brown, Sojourner Truth, President Wilson, Marcus Garvey, Father Divine, as well as less prominent people, including Klansmen and their victims, laborers, black soldiers, and defiant runaway slaves. The presentation of this short play provided the students with owner-ship of their past and present; in a way it resembled a term project or commencement exercise. The speeches, with language from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, were not easily mastered; the performance was not polished, but the students who participated in it were emotionally committed to their roles and their naive, sincere presentation was very well received.
KeywordsBlack People Democratic Party Atlantic City Credential Committee Southern Theater
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- 6.Mary Aicken Rothschild, A Case of Black and White: Northern Volunteers and the Southern Freedom Summers, 1964–1965 (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1982) 136–138.Google Scholar