Sunday, May 5, 2013

Two Minutes with Ain Gordon: Meeting Middle Age


Painted Bride transforming into Quaker Meeting House.
Photo by P. Sumpter
Despite its setting "If She Stood" isn't all about the past - it's all about the present. Playwright Ain Gordon, who created the production with filmmaker Nadine Patterson explains what he wants the audience to carry as they leave the play.
Spend two or more minutes with Ain Gordon as he explains and discusses:


This blog explores issues raised by "If She Stood," a play by Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson for the Place Philadelphia project. Please subscribe to receive posts in your email.
"If She Stood" will have its final performance on Sunday May 5, 2013 at 3 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Two Minutes with Ain Gordon: Re-Marking on History


Historical Marker at 5th and Arch.
Photo by P. Sumpter
History is the warp and weft of Philadelphia's life. Much of that history is captured in markers. But playwright Ain Gordon ask whether the plaques help us remember important places, people and events, or re-forget the past that shapes us.

Spend two more minutes with Ain Gordon discussing
Personal Revolution
Where History Stops
Where Drama Starts

This blog explores issues raised by "If She Stood," a play by Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson for the Place Philadelphia project. Please subscribe to receive posts in your email.
"If She Stood" will run for two more performances:

Saturday, May, 2013 at 8 p.m.
Sunday May 5, 2013 at 3 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now - BUY HERE.

Friday, May 3, 2013

IF SHE STOOD Honorees

We thought the world premiere of If She Stood was the ideal opportunity to recognize women in our community who are currently standing for all of us to transform our city into a more dynamic and inclusive community. Each evening we honor a group of women who are STANDING today.

IF SHE STOOD HONOREES:


FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2013

Luxme Hariharan is currently a third year Ophthalmology resident at the University of Pennsylvania Scheie Eye Institute, who tries to abide by her grandmother’s wisdom, “from those to whom much is given, much is to be expected”. She was born in Hyderabad, India, lived in Nairobi, Kenya and grew up in Madison, WI. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin Madison majoring in Spanish & Latin American & Caribbean Studies, her medical degree at the University of Wisconsin and a Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with an emphasis on global health policy. She completed at internship in Pediatrics at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, NY prior to moving to Philadelphia for residency. Luxme  has a passion in international health and policy, and is fluent in Spanish &  Tamil and conversational in Hindi & French. She has experience creating health care policies in the Wisconsin State Legislature and analyzing tobacco control guidelines with the World Health Organization, and has lobbied for health care legislation in Harrisburg, PA and Washington DC on behalf of the Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, respectively. She recently traveled to San Salvador, El Salvador to work with the Ministry of Health on childhood blindness prevention and is currently working with UNICEF &  the Ministry of Health in Buenos Aires, Argentina on improving guidelines and policies pertaining to Retinopathy of Prematurity ( ROP) in collaboration with  PAHO, The Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia and the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In Philadelphia, she is working with the citywide childhood obesity initiative and the Children’s Hospital of Philaldelphia to start a novel multidisciplinary clinic addressing vision problems caused by childhood obesity. She also coordiates ophthalmology residents to perform free eye exams at Puentes de Salud a free health clinic that serves Philadelphia’s latino population. She is on the board of directors of the National Physcians Alliance and sits on the public health committee for the Philadelphia County Medical Society.  Next year she will be pursuing a Pediatric ophthalmology fellowship at the Bascom Palmer Eye Insitute in Miami, FL. As a Pediatric Ophthalmologist, her  goal is to pursue a career with an emphasis on advocacy and creating effective programs & policies to prevent childhood blindness both locally and abroad.

Two Minutes with Ain Gordon: Personal Revolution


Nadine Patterson and Ain Gordon  creators of "If She Stood"
Photo by P. Sumpter
Playwright Ain Gordon rests on history, but he's not leaning on it. He said that position made writing "If She Stood" than his previous work, "In This Place."
The latter production was commissioned by Lexington, Ky., and revolved around an unmarked house in the city's historic district. Gordon found the house was the first structure built by a free Black man. So he told the story, not of the man, but of his wife. In "If She Stood," Gordon says he's not as concerned with the public record. In this short clip, he talks about his fascination with the interior lives of women whose dedication took them into the public sphere in an era when society conspired to keep women silent and hidden.

Spend two minutes with Ain Gordon while he discusses:
Re-Marking on History
Where History Stops
Where Drama Starts


This blog explores issues raised by "If She Stood," a play by Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson for the Place Philadelphia project. Please subscribe to receive posts in your email.
"If She Stood" will run for three more performances:

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, May, 2013 at 8 p.m.
Sunday May 5, 2013 at 3 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now - BUY HERE.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Two Minutes with Ain Gordon: Where History Stops


Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson
Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson Photo by P. Sumpter
Playwright Ain Gordon wants you to view "If She Stood" with a skeptical eye. Although history has informed the work he produced with filmmaker Nadine Patterson, Gordon is clear: the play is not a documentary.
"If She Stood" is not to be taken as a definitive account. Neither should a standard history text, Gordon says.
That's because "history" is narrative, just like a movie. When a film is cut – re-edited – the story changes. When history is re-edited or re-examined, the story changes as well.
Gordon spends two minutes discussing his attitude toward history, and the attitude he wants his audience to bring to "If She Stood.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Two Minutes with Ain Gordon: Where Drama Starts


The gap between pure history and pure drama is as large as the sap between pure fact and pure fiction - and it's where playwright Ain Gordon stands.
He is an award-winning director, playwright and actor who focuses on people and events which are often overlooked or marginalized in 'official' histories," according to his Wikipedia page.

I spoke with him in February, when he was working "If She Stood," which he produced with Nadine Patterson. I'd watched a PBS production that used dramatic re-enactments in a documentary on abolitionists and abolitionism. Although I was unsatisfied with the show, it inspired an appreciation for the task Gordon was undertaking.

In this series of posts, Ain Gordon tells how he approaches his work, how he approaches his audience, and shares his attitude toward historical "facts." I'll post a conversation daily from May 1 to May 5.
 Spend two more minutes with Ain Gordon as he discusses:

Re-Marking on History
Personal Revolution
Where History Stops



This blog explores issues raised by "If She Stood," a play by Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson for the Place Philadelphia project. Please subscribe to receive posts in your email.
"If She Stood" will run for two more performances:

Saturday, May, 2013 at 8 p.m.
Sunday May 5, 2013 at 3 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now - BUY HERE.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

From the Library Company Blog: Commemorating Abolitionism in 1830s Philadelphia

Our friends at the Library Company of Philadelphia have been great assets to the Place Philadelphia project. Check out the blog post from Library Company staffers Krystal Appiah and Nicole Joniec HERE. Get their insight on If She Stood and the companion exhibit, Freedom, Fire and Promiscuous Meetings.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Get to know the women of "If She Stood"

Seated in the Bride’s performance space, which has been transformed into a 19th century Quaker meeting, for the world premiere production of If She Stood audiences meet four women who collectively stood to abolish slavery, literally invent the women’s rights movement and right a host of societal wrongs: Sarah Mapps Douglass, Sarah Grimke, Angelina Weld Grimké, and Sarah Pugh.

Sarah Mapps Douglass was an outspoken abolitionist, educator, public lecturer, writer, and crusader for equal rights. Both her parents were prominent African American abolitionists. Sarah grew up deeply rooted within the abolitionist movement and participated in many areas. With her mother, Sarah helped establish the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, and she served as the manager, recording secretary and as its librarian. Her contributions and commitment to African American education were vast, teaching both children and adults. In 1820, at the age of 16, Sarah opened a school for black children. In 1853, Sarah headed the preparatory department at the Philadelphia Institute for Colored Youth, and for over 25 years, she was a teacher and administrator at the school. Sarah publicly and openly expressed her opposition to the segregation African Americans faced in the Quaker meeting houses of worship that she attended. The Douglass family forged social and political networks with both black and white abolitionists. She maintained a long and close friendship with Sarah and Angelina Grimké, daughters of South Carolina slaveholders. The Grimkés joined the abolitionist movement within the Philadelphia Quaker community in the early 1830s. In her letters to Sarah Grimké, Douglass revealed the pain of encountering race prejudice among fellow Quakers. The Arch Street meeting, for example, required blacks and whites to sit on separate benches. Although her mother continued to attend the Arch Street Meeting, Sarah eventually stopped attending.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Every Month is Women's History Month: Maria Stewart, A Free Black Woman

As much I love Women's History and African American History months, I have a beef about observing them. Once the time has passed, important women and African Americans return to the closet of obscurity. In honor of "Every Month is Women's History Month," I'm posting a visit with Maria Stewart.

Although she was from Boston, not Philadelphia, Stewart was an activist. She is considered the first American-born woman to lecture in public.  She began speaking against slavery, colonization and equal rights in 1832.
Stewart spoke because she would not be silenced. She started out by writing essays, which she took to William Lloyd Garrison. The abolitionist publisher printed her essays and her speeches.
But the speeches caused controversy; women were to be seen, not heard. But Stewart's words are stirring. Read the beginning of her first speech, "Why Sit Ye Here and Die":

Why sit ye here and die? If we say we will go to a foreign land, the famine and the pestilence are there, and there we shall die. If we sit here, we shall die. Come let us plead our cause before the whites: if they save us alive, we shall live—and if they kill us, we shall but die....
In the same speech, she points a finger at discrimination:
And such is the powerful force of prejudice. Let our girls possess what amiable qualities of soul they may; let their characters be fair and spotless as innocence itself; let their natural taste and ingenuity be what they may; it is impossible for scarce an individual of them to rise above the condition of servants. Ah! why is this cruel and unfeeling distinction? Is it merely because God has made our complexion to vary?
Although Stewart's voice was strong, her career was shortened by those opposed to women speaking in public. Her farewell address was as passionate and pointed as her other speeches. Eventually, she started schools for free African-American children in Washington, D.C.

Still Stewart's insistence on standing her ground and speaking her mind paved the way for the women involved in the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833.

You can listen to her "speaking" at http://www.radiocurious.org/2012/03/06/maria-stewart-sandra-kamusukiri-a-visit-with-a-free-black-women-boston-1840-2/
If the link doesn't work, copy and paste the address into your browser.



This blog explores issues raised by "If She Stood," a play by Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson for the Place Philadelphia project. Please subscribe to receive posts in your email.
"If She Stood" will run for six performances:
  • Friday, April 26, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 3 p.m.
  • Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, May, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday May 5, 2013 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now - BUY HERE.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

For Women's History Month: How to Keep Sheroes Prim and Proper


Rosa Parks being fingerprinted
courtesy Library of Congress
When New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote about a new biography of Rosa Parks, he opened his article with a warning:

“Most of what you think you know about Rosa Parks may well be wrong.”

In fact, Blow says later in the piece,”Parks, like many other Americans who over the years have angrily agitated for change in this country, had been sanitized and sugarcoated for easy consumption…The Rosa Parks in this book is as much Malcolm X as she is Martin Luther King, Jr.” (Ironically, that very sentence reduces King and Malcolm X to two-dimensional figures. But we won't quibble.)

But the so-called "Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement" was not just a woman who got “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” – in the words of her peer Fannie Lou Hamer. Activism ran through Parks’ blood.

Her grandfather followed Marcus Garvey, the controversial Black Nationalist who organized a back-to-Africa movement in the 1920s. She married Raymond Parks because he “refused to be intimidated by white people,” according to passage quoted in Blow’s column.

Frankly, some of the “new information” about Parks had been around for some time. The old story about being physically exhausted had long been debunked. Many biographers noted her time at the Highlander Folk School, a training ground for social justice activists that was established in 1932. 

So how did she get to be so meek and mild – at least in the public’s imagination?

Check out the title of this blog post.

Angry women scare us.  Competent, focused women do, too.  Parks was both. Just the notion of a woman enraged by injustice upsets the balance of power. So Rosa Parks isn’t called a “founder” of the modern civil rights movement; she’s called its mother. And the words used to describe her, "working quietly," "uncomfortable with the spotlight' suggest a modest woman unwillingly thrust into a leadership role.

That might be true, but modesty isn’t synonymous with passivity. Just ask Jarena Lee, Anne Hutchinson, or any women who stood up for what she believed. Even if, like Parks, she did while sitting down.

This blog explores issues raised by "If She Stood," a play by Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson for the Place Philadelphia project. Please subscribe to receive posts in your email.
"If She Stood" will run for six performances:
  • Friday, April 26, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 3 p.m.
  • Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, May, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday May 5, 2013 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now - BUY HERE.

Friday, March 8, 2013

For Women's History Month: Women Speak


I'd love to hear women like Jarena Lee and the Grimke sisters speak for themselves. Of course, that's impossible: technology to record and replay sounds didn't emerge until the last years of the Grimkes' lives.

Still creativity has done what science couldn't. Numerous actresses, actors and even scholars have brought early abolitionists and feminists to life.

In honor of International Women's Day – and Women's History Month –  I'm posting links to podcasts from radiocurious.org.

 Independent audio producer Barry Vogel has established the site 23 years ago.
He's produced a large number of podcasts on feminism and women's issues. I'll start with Matilda Joslyn Gage, a suffragist from New York. Gage was born in Cicero, New York  in 1836.  She came into the abolitionist movement naturally; her father was an anti-slavery activist and their home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Like her "sisters" in Philadelphia, her activism led her to feminism. Although she didn't attend the first women's conference in Seneca Falls, she did go to the third convention in Syracuse. Eventually, she became a noted speaker and writer.

But she buttressed her words with actions. Starting in 1871, she repeatedly challenged the law by attempting to vote. She finally cast a ballot in 1880, when she brought a crowd of women to vote in a Fayetteville, New York.

Gage was a rebel in more ways than one. She renounced Christianity because she maintained it contributed to the oppression of women. 

Vogel recorded his 30-minute "interview" with Gage - played by historian Sally Roesch Wagner -  in 1996. You can hear it here, or download the podcast from the site.


This blog explores issues raised by "If She Stood," a play by Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson for the Place Philadelphia project. Please subscribe to receive posts in your email.
"If She Stood" will run for six performances:
  • Friday, April 26, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 3 p.m.
  • Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, May, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday May 5, 2013 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now - BUY HERE.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Abolition's Greatest Hits or Singing for the Cause

What is a revolution without music? Have we forgotten that "This Land is Your Land" sprang from a social justice consciousness?
  Like others dedicated to social change, abolitionists used songs to explain and promote their stance. "Let Freedom Sing: Music of the Abolitionists" explores that music and its singers. Click the link to listen to the hour-long program.

 One surprise: Stephen Collins Foster - yes, that Stephen Foster - was sympathetic to the abolitionists' cause.
"Rather than writing nostalgically for an old South (it was, after all, the present day for him), or trivializing the hardships of slavery, Foster sought to humanize the characters in his songs, to have them care for one another, and to convey a sense that all people--regardless of their ethnic identities or social and economic class--share the same longings and needs for family and home. ...Stephen Foster was a man with a mission, to reform black-face minstrelsy, then the most pervasive and powerful force in American popular culture." - source: American Experience Stephen Foster
But the photo above features the Hutchinson Family Singers. The group, which spanned three generations, is considered the first protest singers. During their heyday in the mid- nineteenth century, they sang about temperance, politics, female suffrage and, of course, abolition. Listen to a rendition of "Get Off the Track," a song touting emancipation.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

LIberty, Justice and Civil Rights for One and All

Think of a time when "all" meant "all white males who owned land." That time would have been in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when the United States was being formed.

Nowadays land is almost a synonym for property, but then property could have been people.  Legally slaves were considered personal property. Owning slaves increased the man's net worth, but also increased taxes and assessment. So having property – both real and personal – indicated wealth, status and power, all things kept for a few instead of shared with many.

Imagine a time when "all" meant "all white males." That time would have been around 1820, when "universal suffrage" meant all white men could vote. The circle enlarged to include the common man, but African Americans, women, Native people and others stood outside.

But justice and passion can not be contained. So think of a time when those standing outside decided everyone should stand together.

I could be talking about today, couldn't I? But I'm talking about the 1830s, when the women and men spoke against oppression by speaking to one and all.

Abby Kelley Foster
I linger on the last few words because I'm thinking of Abby Kelley Foster.

She became an abolitionist in 1837,  after hearing William Loyd Garrison speak. She became a follower and then a prominent organizer and speaker.  She was radical, demanding an immediate end to slavery and equal rights for African Americans and women.

She practiced when she preached before "promiscuous audiences" - the term for a mixed gender crowd. But she went further.

In 1838, she spoke at the Second Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women. She was one of several women who took the podium in newly constructed Pennsylvania Hall, addressing a crowd of white and African American men and women. It was all too much for anti-abolitionists to bear.  They attacked the speakers that night. The next day, a mob surrounded the building and burned it to the ground.

Try to imagine a time when "all" means any one can enjoy privileges and rights shared by every one.
One day. One day



This blog explores issues raised by "If She Stood," a play by Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson for the Place Philadelphia project. Please subscribe to receive posts in your email.
"If She Stood" will run for six performances:
  • Friday, April 26, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 3 p.m.
  • Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, May, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday May 5, 2013 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now - BUY HERE.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"If She Stood" Official Flyer


If She Stood considers a small band of women who used personal and collective action to upend their world. In 1833 many of these women joined in founding the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, a self-propelled multi-racial collective whose members fought variously to end slavery, boycott goods produced by the labor of enslaved people, protect newly freed men and women, better education, foster literacy, improve nutrition, promote temperance, and offer women hygienic instruction. Often speaking in public, these women were judged equally for their radical politics and for daring to rise to their feet before a seated gathering of both genders, a woman daring to stand and value her opinion in public.

Commissioned by the Painted Bride Art Center, written and directed by Ain Gordon in collaboration with Nadine Patterson, If She Stood will muse on women of 19th century Philadelphia who decided to take a stand.

Ain Gordon’s If She Stood has been supported by The Pew Center for the Arts & Heritage and is made possible in part by support from the National Performance Network (NPN) Performance Residency Program.

A part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts 2013

Share the If She Stood flyer with your friends with the social toolbar below! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

The 13th Amendment and the Ironies of History

Image from the National Archives

On the cusp of a doubly momentous day – the second inauguration of the nation's first African American president falls on the Martin Luther King Jr., holiday  – our virtual observance should include studying a document partially responsible for these events. That document is, of course, the 13th amendment to the Constitution.

It's an eighth-grade lesson you've probably forgotten: the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution freed the slaves. Did you recite the fact in a monotone or fill the words on a blank during a multiple choice test?


This meticulously written page was a destination in a journey of a thousand steps. Many of them  were taken in Philadelphia by women like the Grimke sisters and members of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society.

The amendment emancipated slaves, but did not make them citizens. That occurred with passage of the 14th amendment. The 15th amendment gave the vote to African American males

What did society members do when the 13th amendment passed? Interestingly, they kept up the fight. According to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:
   "Following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865, most abolition societies disbanded or remade themselves into freedman’s aid societies. ... But ultimately the group’s members decided that their work as abolitionists was not finished. Echoing Robert Purvis, Lucretia Mott felt that the fraught and violent period of Reconstruction proved particularly dangerous for the free black man. She charged that the PFASS should “sound the alarm” whenever freedmen’s rights were threatened and work to expand those rights. By December 1866, the PFASS committed to holding a festival on Market Street to raise awareness and funds for the cause of black male suffrage."

The irony was clear, even to the society's members. Until the passage of the 13th amendment, the organization was fighting to extend equality: so that Blacks, like Whites, could be free. In 1866, though, they fought to give African American men a right they didn't have themselves – the right to vote. Even more ironically, they were successful. When the 15th amendment passed, all men were able to cast a ballot.

 By the time women won that right in 1920, Jim Crow had effectively disenfranchised most African Americans, regardless of their gender.

This blog explores issues raised by "If She Stood," a play by Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson for the Place Philadelphia project. Please subscribe to receive posts in your email.

"If She Stood" will run for six performances:
  • Friday, April 26, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 3 p.m.
  • Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, May, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday May 5, 2013 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now - BUY HERE.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

PBS Explores Abolition as an American Experience

Portrait of Angelina Grimke
from Library of Congress
The PBS show, "American Experience" starts a three-part series on abolition. The series, entitled "The Abolitionists," explores the lives and work of five prominent members of the movement: John Brown, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimke, William Lloyd Garrison and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Philadelphia is featured in an interactive map displaying archival material and videos. Episodes will be show on Jan. 8, 15, and 22. Check the "American Experience" site to find local broadcast times.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Painted Bride Partners with Women's Way for FREE film screening of "Not My Life"


If She Stood considers a small but vital collection of women who worked to radically upend numerous societal wrongs through personal and collective action. In 1833, many of these women joined in the founding of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. Through their work in the Society many of these women individually happened upon what was then called “the women’s question” – issues of women's suffrage, reproductive rights, bodily autonomy, property rights, legal rights, medical right, sexual  freedom, and marriage.  

The Society paved the way for woman-centered organizations of the future, including Women’s Way

January is Human Trafficking Awareness & Prevention Month, and Painted Bride has partnered with Women’s Way for a special screening of “Not My Life” - the first documentary film to depict the horrifying and dangerous practices of human trafficking on a global scale - followed by a discussion on the impact of human trafficking and domestic violence in our region.


Join us on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 6:30pm for the screening and discussion, which will include conversation with If She Stood director and playwright, Ain Gordon. Attendance is FREE, but you must RSVP HERE.
 
About Not My Life:

Filmed on five continents over a period of four years, "Not My Life" unflinchingly, but with enormous dignity and compassion, depicts the unspeakable practices of a multi-billion dollar global industry whose profits, as the film's narration says, "are built on the backs and in the beds of our planet's youth." While acknowledging that trafficking and slavery are universal crimes, affecting millions of human beings all over the world, "Not My Life" zeroes in on the fact that the vast majority of trafficking and slavery victims are indeed children. This fundamental truth, says the film's director, Oscar® nominee Robert Bilheimer, raises profound questions about the very nature of our civilization. "What kind of society cannibalizes its own children?" Bilheimer asks. "Can we do these sorts of things on such a large scale and still call ourselves human in any meaningful sense of the term?"

The film has a running time of 83 minutes. Learn more about "Not My Life" and view the trailer by visiting the film’s website: notmylife.org

About Women’s Way: 

WOMEN’S WAY is the leading education, advocacy and grantmaking organization for women in the greater Philadelphia area. WOMEN’S WAY chairs the advocacy committee of the Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition, an affiliation of social service, government, and law enforcement agencies dedicated to combating human trafficking in the Philadelphia area.  The coalition aims to create a network of agencies working together to empower victims and hold traffickers accountable.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Free at Last: Reflections on the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

Church-going African Americans have a tradition. On New Year's Eve, we gather in a sanctuary to pray and sing in the new year at a Watch Night service. Being that I'm a gospel musician, the question isn't whether I'll attend a service but which service I'll attend.

So Dec. 31, 2012 found me in a pew at a special service. Our bulletin didn't tell a story from scripture. Instead, we got a lesson from history. Our ancestors weren't watching for God or the Christ Child. They stayed up to watch for freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed on Jan. 1, 1863. This year marks its sesquicentennial.
Page one of the Emancipation Proclamation

There were caveats: freedom depended on a Union victory and slave-holding states that remained in the union, like Maryland, were exempted. The proclamation had no effect in Pennsylvania, which had enacted "An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery" in 1780.

But Pennsylvania, especially Philadelphia was a hotbed of abolitionism. As Professor Edward Raymond Turner noted in 1911,
Nowhere can the early history of abolition be studied to better advantage than Pennsylvania. There was organized the first formal protest ever made against slave-holding in North America. There arose the first In Pennsylvania was founded the first and the greatest of the abolition societies. In Pennsylvania was passed the first law to bring slavery to an end.

During the Watch Night service, I thought about all I've learned since I began blogging for Place Philadelphia and "If She Stood." So many times, the abolition of slavery is presented as the consequence  of the Emancipation Proclamation. But history knows the document resulted from years of advocacy and struggle.  On the sesquicentennial of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, I raise my voice to praise all those who stood for such a righteous cause.
 

This blog explores issues raised by If She Stood, a play by Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson for the Place Philadelphia project. Please subscribe to receive posts in your email.

If She Stood will run for six performances:
  • Friday, April 26, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 3 p.m.
  • Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, May, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday May 5, 2013 at 3 p.m.
Tickets are on sale for the first weekend - BUY HERE.