Freedom and liberty – How are they defined and for whom are they granted?
Well before the Civil War, African American women joined together in support of abolition, leading to a century of activism on various issues of personal liberty. These pioneering radicals challenged convention and complacency, risking emotional and physical attacks small and large. Undeterred, these women continued to take a stand.
Yet their legacy is too often invisible. Many of these women remained anonymous, while others kept few records. How do we recover this history? How can we tell the stories of these brave women when so little about them is known?
As part of the An Artist Embedded project, we will explore this largely ignored world of activist African American women toiling for freedom. How and where do we find evidence? What can’t we know? How do we fill in the gaps?
The event will include dramatic readings by playwright Ain Gordon and actress Melanye Finister from Ain’s previous play, If She Stood, which brought to light the story of Philadelphia’s Female Anti-Slavery Society. The African American Museum in Philadelphia’s Adrienne Whaley will facilitate the discussion between Ain, historian Dr. Judith Giesberg of Villanova University, and the audience.
When we look back, we cannot know ALL that happened. The historical record is rarely, if ever, complete. When we present history, we fill in the gaps, create the voices that spoke, the characters that lived. Are we creating fiction? Have we made history un-true? Or have we created a more layered truth greater than mere fact? Obie award-winning playwright Ain Gordon and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania will explore the intersections of history and fiction, fact and truth, as part of a new two-year project, An Artist Embedded.