Photo Sarah Whiting
Photo Sarah Whiting

I’m honored that one story I’m bringing to the stage spotlights revolutionary leaders who significantly contributed to the fight for freedom, equality, and equity. Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass shaped our nation’s constitution and left an indelible mark as icons. Their voices, contributions, and legacies are often relegated to two-dimensional history lessons explored without connections. “Agitators” gives us the opportunity to explore not only the power of these two people, but their humanity. 

The play takes us on a journey of nearly a half century, grounded in the relationship between these two remarkable leaders that spanned the Civil War and and the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which gave African-American men the right to vote. The play speaks directly to the power of people, and gives us an opportunity to connect more meaningfully with the struggles, the betrayals, and the victories of Anthony, who sparked the women’s movement, and Douglass, who sparked the civil rights movement.

I love that this story is told by two actors who take on the challenge of filling these iconic shoes as they traverse time and space. Their transformations give us a chance to consider our own. I love stories that illuminate the past in a way that asks us to ponder the agency we have in the present moment. 

Later in the year, I’m thrilled to be working on “Hidden Heroes,” a new play (and movie) based on the book “Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA,” written by Sue Bradford Edwards and Duchess Harris. 

Shá Cage, my collaborator of almost 20 years, is writing the play. It tells the stories of how these women were influenced as young girls to eventually make critical contributions that launched U.S. astronauts into space and returned them safely back to Earth. 

“It doesn’t matter what you look like, what your size is, what your color is. You can be anything you want to, but you do have to work at it,” said one Hidden Heroes mother to her daughter. 

In the 1950’s and 60’s, the Black women of NASA fought against racial and gender discrimination for a place on the leading edge of math, science, and technology. Connecting the past to the present, to inspire the future, is what excites me most about this project. 

As a Black woman, I know the importance of representation. These stories represent my passion to position the narratives of often silenced voices.