Sunday, October 25, 2009

The People of Clarendon County Performed in Washington, DC

"The People of Clarendon County"--a Play by Ossie Davis, was performed on October 21, 2009 at the Congressional Auditorium located in the U.S. Capitol Visiters Center, in Washington, D.C. I was present at this moving performance of the play. Written by Ossie Davis in 1955 and performed only once by Davis, Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier, it was unearthed by Alice Bernstein, journalist and Aesthetic Realism Associate, and published with Ossie Davis's blessing. The play chronicles the courageous fight of black citizens living in Clarendon County, South Carolina to get schools and an education for their children equal to white children. It is stirring and inspiring to see how the battle fought by these ordinary citizens, unsung heroes of the civil rights movement, led to the landmark decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education in 1954. Also contained within this work, are photographs and historical documents from that time in Clarendon County and essays on how the philosophy of Aesthetic Realism, founded in 1941 by poet and historian Eli Siegel, can end racism.

Featured in this presentation, and in the book by Alice Bernstein, is the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method. This method, which I used for more than 30 years in New York City public high schools, enables students to learn the subject successfully and become deeper, kinder, more just individuals. Elementary educator, Monique Michael, gave a lesson on this historic evening about sameness and difference in birds--how they are made with similar AND different physical structures which enable to thrive in their environment. This diversity among living things is beautiful and persons in the audience--who were called on to participate--felt that the world would be less interesting without it. This is also true, Mrs. Michael pointed out, about human beings. She shows that we, too, are a thrilling and sensible relation of difference and sameness that should be honored, celebrated and respected without limit. You can view the program for this event by clicking above on "The People of Clarendon County."