On Tuesday, February 19, The Piney Woods School was treated to an excellent play from a local theater troupe. New Stage Theater of Jackson presented If Not Us, Then Who? Freedom Rides to Freedom Summer. This original play with music chronicles two historic events that made an unforgettable impact on American history: 1961’s Freedom Riders and 1964’s Freedom Summer.
The play featured four talented actors: Cherry Rendel, Hayden Schubert, Sarah Coleman, and Jordan Williams and was expertly directed. The play revealed the harsh realities of the South Eastern United States during the Civil Rights Era and highlighted real American heroes who fought for the freedoms we all have today.
In 1961, thirteen “Freedom Riders” began a journey to fight racial segregation. In 1964, Mississippians and out-of-state volunteers alike organized “Freedom Summer,” a massive voter registration drive to give African Americans a voice in politics. Interspersed with freedom songs from the movement, this production encourages us to remember that America is at her best when we are working for the common good of all her citizens. Featuring stories from famous participants like Fannie Lou Hamer and Senator John Lewis, as well as lesser-known heroes like James Zwerg and Diane Nash, this play recounts the lives of these brave folks whose bold actions continue to inspire us all. If Not Us, Then Who? is best suited for middle and high school audiences.
New Stage Theatre is Mississippi’s professional not-for-profit theatre. Winner of the 2019 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Theatre, the education program tours throughout Mississippi and has a strong reputation for presenting entertaining and educational shows that elevate students’ literary knowledge and problem-solving skills. The New Stage Arts-in-Education touring program is sponsored by Entergy Mississippi, The Selby and Richard McRae Foundation, The Chisholm Foundation, and the Fountain Family Foundation.
PWS would like to thank Ms. Miller and Mrs. Crossley for arranging this incredible event, as well as Sharon Miles, who serves as an education director at New Stage.