The WordPlayers is now touring the annual Black History play. This season it is Walk, Don’t Ride, which is about the Civil Rights Movement. Three major events are highlighted in the play, the most interesting to me being the Nashville Lunch Counter Sit-ins.
I grew up in Nashville. My father worked downtown just a few blocks from where these sit-ins took place and yet, I don’t think I knew anything about them until I found this play three years ago.
How could something so significant have happened in my hometown and I not know anything about it? Apparently, I am not alone.
According to a recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center: “Across the country, state educational standards virtually ignore our civil rights history.”
Hopefully, this is not due to some sinister plan. It could be there just isn’t time in the average U.S. History course.
In any case, it makes me all the more proud to be part of the team that is producing this play. Every time I see Walk, Don’t Ride, I am struck by the conviction and courage of the people represented in the play. The people participating in the Nashville Lunch Counter Sit-ins were college students. Black and white young people with their whole lives ahead of them, yet they were willing to put their lives on the line for the cause of equal rights.
The show was performed for the 8th graders at Sevierville Middle School this past Wednesday. Afterward, the students had a chance to ask questions.
By the nature of their questions, I could tell that many of the students were intrigued by this idea of non-violent protest. In this day and age, with all the violence portrayed through the media, is it any wonder?
Have young people heard of non-violent protest? Do they know how much was accomplished by it during the Civil Rights Movement?
One student asked us, “If you were treated the way the people were in this play, would you remain non-violent?”
I answered, “I like to think I would. Would you?”