29 november 1968 & woodson jhs students perform original play inspired by 2 nov shooting by white police officer
#OTD-ish 29 November 1968 Students at Carter G. Woodson JHS perform in an original play written by Patricia Patton, an English teacher. Concerned about the “false rumors” in circulation after the shooting and injury of an adult and teen on 2 November 1968 by a white police officer, Patton wrote a morality/respectability play about law, violence and history.
In the above image, students hold long sticks to simulate being in jail after being arrested by police. In jail, a guard explains the appropriate moments to protest and gives history lessons on which leaders protested appropriately.
Interestingly, this play was chosen instead of the usual plays about “Thanksgiving.” According to one parent quoted in the white-owned Evening Star, “[The play] had a point that may be related to Thanksgiving. Maybe Negroes and whites can sit down to a feast together one day like the Indians and Pilgrims. But there must be peace first.”
The 34-member glee club, headed by Cynthia Mitchell and Grace Bradford, also sang during the play. Mitchell and Bradford wrote some of the score.
Your comments are welcome below. Did you, family members or neighbors attend Woodson JHS? Do you remember Patricia Patton? What can you tell me about her? Did you act in the play? Were you in the audience? Do you have a copy of the play? Do you have photographs, a program or other material from the play? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy of DCPL Special Collections, Evening Star Newspaper Collection. 28 November 1968. Bernie Boston, photographer.
Gerald Somerville, “No Pilgrims at Woodson: Holiday Program—’68 Style,” Evening Star 28 November 1968.
I am fascinated by this play. It’s so interesting to see what kind of discourse was in circulation re the genocide of Native Americans by white colonial settlers, and the ways in which ongoing state and colonial violence was constructed and erased in the public spaces of schools and newspapers.