FOR ALL THE WORLD TO HEAR: STORIES FROM THE STRUGGLE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS
An Oral History, Performance and Digital Humanities Outreach Project of the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, UMBC by Harriet Lynn
In the 1950’s an African-American college student, Woodrow “Woody” B. Grant, Jr. sat in his Virginia Union University classroom mesmerized by the guest speaker, a magnetic young minister. The speaker spoke directly to the hearts and souls of the college students—on how passive resistance could be used to change their plight. This speaker’s presence and compelling message had an immediate and profound impact on Woody. The young minister who spoke to Woody and his classmates that day was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The experience changed Woody’s life.
Woody Grant immediately became a “foot soldier” for freedom and has since dedicated his life to fighting for civil rights. Woody with his long time Aberdeen, Maryland-born wife, Janice Grant, a strong force in her own right as a civil rights activist and leader, continue to champion freedom and justice for all. The Grants are only two of the ten individuals who met once a week since September 2012 in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park neighborhood to share stories of their experience as part of a special community-based oral history performance project, For All the World to Hear: Stories from the Struggle for Civil Rights.
Some participants became involved by responding to advertisements featured in publications such as The Beacon Newspaper or were recommended through word-of-mouth. Many young people—and even adults today—who came into being soon after the heights of the civil rights movement are unaware of the personal sacrifices, risks, and humiliations endured. For All the World to Hear’s goal is to share some of the stories by the very persons who lived them with today’s audiences.
Unfortunately, not all of the stories are able to be told in the one-hour performance piece, but will be available as digital stories and featured on iTunesU. UMBC students are also recording the experience, from “process to performance” in a documentary film.
- For more information about For All the World to Hear including performances, documentary film, and digital storytelling, visit the CADVC project website foralltheworldtohear.org.
Fortunately, with the aid of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (CADVC), and generous support from the Maryland Humanities Council (MHC), For All the World To Hear has come to fruition. The program has benefited from the aid of six UMBC students, who documented and supported the project plus ongoing support of producer and project director, Sandra Abbott, CADVC curator of collections and outreach. It was Ms. Abbott who originally envisioned an outreach companion piece for the powerful For All the World to See exhibit, now featured at UMBC, in CADVC’s gallery through March 10, 2013. The exhibit demonstrates how the media affected the civil rights movement. The adage by Marshall McLuhan, “the media is the message” is very much alive in this must see exhibit.
Do young people today know what it was like to not be able to eat at any restaurant or stay at any hotel of their choosing? Could they swim or play tennis in a public park or drink from any water fountain? If it were not for these individuals and the thousands who dared to put themselves on the line we would not be as far along as we are today? I must ask, “Are we there yet”?
For All the World to Hear: Stories from the Struggle for Civil Rights is a community outreach program of the Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture (CADVC) at UMBC, organized by Sandra Abbott, CADVC’s curator of collections and outreach.
Program partners include the St. Francis Neighborhood Center, Stoop Storytelling Series, Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, and the Senior Division of the Baltimore City Recreation & Parks Department. Media partners include Beacon Press and WYPR. For all the World to Hear is inspired by the concurrent CADVC project, For All The World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, curated by Dr. Maurice Berger, CADVC’s Research Professor and Chief Curator. Learn more at foralltheworldtosee.org.
This project was made possible by a grant from the Maryland Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Maryland Humanities Council. The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture is a non-profit organization dedicated to organizing comprehensive exhibitions, the publication of catalogs, CDs, DVDs, and books on the arts, and educational and community outreach projects.
Harriet Lynn, BFA, MS, (oral historian, performance director/dramaturge for For All the World to Hear: Stories from the Struggle for Civil Rights) is founder/producer/artistic director of Heritage Theatre Artists’ Consortium. As a museum theatre consultant she works with various museums and educational organizations providing museum theatre, living history and oral history programming since 1994. She is a member of AAM, IMTAL, OHMAR and SAG-AFTRA.