Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"The People of Clarendon County"

Journalist and Aesthetic Realism associate Alice Bernstein has done a wonderful thing in resurrecting the dramatic and moving Ossie Davis play about the 1954 landmark Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court decision. The People of Clarendon County I first learned of Rev. Joseph DeLaine and those brave men and women of Clarendon County, South Carolina, when I was teaching government classes in New York City. We were studying the Brown case and I was interested in the fact that the Supreme Court decision was about five separate cases that had been filed under an umbrella suit. This play is about the people whose heroic actions really started that case. It was written by Ossie Davis. And as the book flier says: "It was performed just once, in 1955, for an enthusiastic audience of union brothers and sisters at Local 1199’s Bread and Roses Cultural Project in New York City. The young actors were Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and Sidney Poitier.
"In her Introduction, journalist and Aesthetic Realism Associate Alice Bernstein tells of conversations with Ossie Davis in 2004 which led to her discovery of “The People of Clarendon County” and her idea for this book. With Mr. Davis’s encouragement, she gathered documents and photographs by and about these unsung heroes, which make history come alive, and essays by authorities on the education that can end racism: Aesthetic Realism, founded by philosopher and poet, Eli Siegel."
I've seen as a teacher and as a person that Aesthetic Realism really can change the prejudice, the conceit and ignorance of racism, into a true appreciation of the value of people different from oneself.