Five young people with the Sunflower County Freedom Project put on a play Saturday afternoon at the Meridian Arts + Entertainment Experience to highlight the perspectives of black, female activists.
“A Song for Coretta,” by Pearl Cleave, takes the audience to the outside of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where people of different generations are waiting in line to pay their respects to Coretta Scott King.
The conversations that ensue, make up the play, with moments of serious discussion about past experiences, historical moments and generational differences, mixed with moments of light-hearted fun.
Each character was played by a young member of the Sunflower County Freedom Project.
The cast was comprised of Kennedye Rash, 13; Amyah Nash, 13; Phillystity Gray, 16; Braelyn Ingram, 14; and Jamiyah McCloud, 14.
After the play, the cast answered questions from the audience.
One person asked, “Why this play?”
“In Black History Month, people don’t always talk about what the females did, and that’s why I liked this play, because it’s about what she (Coretta) did, not what her husband (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) did,” McCloud said.
The rest of the cast echoed that sentiment, as they believe that sometimes the classroom lessons don’t always give credit where it’s due.
They also said the play was an effort to educate people.
“The play is to inform people about black history and how much it changed from then to today,” Rash said.
The group was led by Kandace Stevenson, director of programming for the Sunflower County Freedom Project.
“I first wanted to find a play to reflect our history, and I noticed this was a group of young ladies auditioning,” Stevenson said. “This is my second year with this drama troupe. I noticed the growth and maturity, the raw emotion, dedication and trying to do better than last year.”
“I’m super excited, I think it was fantastic. These five young ladies came to Meridian, out of their shell, totally unaware of what they would run into and they showed out,” said Adrian Cross, executive director of the Meridian Freedom Project.
“They were very open, especially during the question and answer segment, I think that was one of my favorite parts because they got a lot of feedback and they took their constructive criticism, but they were also able to express themselves even more.”
The play was received with a standing ovation at its close.
Audience members took some thoughts back with them after viewing the performance.
“I feel that we don’t get the chance to hear from the female perspective on the civil rights movement, and I liked how they talked about the trauma during the Katrina hurricane, the young lady in the military, and it was all done from women’s perspectives,” Deborah Todd, of Meridian, said.