Broadcasts to Promote “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom”

AllySheedyThursday, February 11, 11:05AM – Northeast Public Radio, WAMC – 90.3 FM
Live stream at www.wamc.org

Hear Ally Sheedy, director of “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom”, Thursday, February 11, beginning at 11:05am on Northeast Public Radio, WAMC – 90.3 FM. She’ll be joined by actress Damaras Obi who plays the lead (and only role) in the production and Lynda Blackmon Lowery, author of the book of the same name.

“Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom” is the story of a young girl who took part in the Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama during the tumultuous 1960s. Beaten and arrested more than 9 times by her 15th birthday, Ms. Lowery is now eager to tell her story to young people – hopefully encouraging them to become activists and help make changes to their communities, their country, and the world.

Ms. Sheedy adapted the book into a stage production, which includes sound recordings of actual events during the era’s sit-ins, freedom rides, demonstrations and marches.

Thursday, February 11, 4:10PM – WGXC – 90.7 FM
Live stream at www.wgxc.org

Then, in the afternoon, hear Hudson Area Library Programming Committee members Miranda Barry and Pamela Badila at 4:05pm on WGXC – 90.7 FM. They will be joined by members of Perfect Ten After School – young women who have been studying the Civil Rights movement after reading Ms. Lowery’s book. Together with hosts Ellen Thurston and Tom DePietro, they will discuss their take on Civil Rights and how this book has affected them.

The play will be performed at the MC Smith Intermediary School, 102 Harry Howard Avenue, Hudson, on Saturday, February 13 at 3pm. Prior to the production, the Hudson High School Choir will perform songs from the time period. The printed program will include photographs of that era along with brief captions describing the activities. Admission is suggested at $10.00 per person. It is a benefit for the Hudson Area Library.

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Non-Violent Voting Struggle Told through Participant’s Eyes

Lynda Blackmon Lowery was one of the youngest participants in the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. Her book, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom has been adapted by the actress/director, Ally Sheedy, into a one-person production, which will be performed in Hudson on February 13.

Lynda Blackmon Lowery was one of the youngest participants in the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. Her book, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom has been adapted by the actress/director, Ally Sheedy, into a one-person production, which will be performed in Hudson on February 13.

Lynda Blackmon, a Selma, Alabama resident in 1965, was jailed nine times before her fifteenth birthday. Along with Martin Luther King, Jr., the teenager marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, standing up for the rights of African-Americans, including her Father and neighbors, so that they could obtain the right to vote. She has a police record for standing up for her beliefs and she’s proud of it.

Fifty years later, Lynda Blackmon Lowery has used her experiences to emphasize the importance of activism. Along with Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley, she has authored the book Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom (Dial Books, 2015). But, unlike many biographers of the period, she’s chosen to relate her struggles specifically to a young audience – stressing just how important it is to be involved.

“I would like for young people to know that each day of your life is a journey into history,” Lowery told National Public Radio’s commentator, Arun Rath. “You have the ability to change something each day of your life. Believe it or not, people, it can’t happen without you.”

This past year, with the help of film actress Ally Sheedy, known for her performances in The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire, the book has been adapted to the stage as a one-person performance by Damaris Obi, a graduate of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts in New York City. The piece shows audiences of all ages what it took to struggle nonviolently and how it felt to be part of changing American history.

On Saturday, February 13 at 3pm, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom will be performed in the auditorium at Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School. The author will attend the performance and speak to the audience afterwards, answering questions and sharing her experiences. Also available will be the director, Ms. Sheedy. Books, compliments of Spotty Dog Books and Ale, will be for sale and both the author and director will sign copies. The suggested donation is $10 for adults and free for children under the age of 12. No advance reservations are available.

In recognition of the importance of getting young people involved in change, there will be a free, private performance for students at the school on Friday, the 12th. Lowery and Sheedy will attend as well.

The Hudson High School Choir will open both events performing songs from the era, and the program will include photographs depicting the events of the March in 1965. Proceeds from ticket and book sales not used to fund the production will be donated to the Hudson Area Library.

The project is presented by the Loire Valley Theatre Festival, Miranda Barry, Producer, and the Hudson Area Library, with generous support from the Martha Boschen Porter Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, The Galvan Foundation, the David Murphy Charitable Fund, Hudson River Bank and Trust, and the Hudson City School District.

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Civil Rights Book Ignites Conversation & Understanding

On Saturday, February 13, a performance entitled, “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March” will take place at the MC Smith Intermediate School, 102 Harry Howard Ave., Hudson at 3pm. Based upon the book of the same name, author Lynda Blackmon Lowery will make an appearance to discuss her experiences with the audience. The one-person play is directed by the actress, Ally Sheedy.

On Saturday, February 13, a performance entitled, “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March” will take place at the MC Smith Intermediate School, 102 Harry Howard Ave., Hudson at 3pm. Based upon the book of the same name, author Lynda Blackmon Lowery will make an appearance to discuss her experiences with the audience. The one-person play is directed by the actress, Ally Sheedy.

When Lynda Blackmon Lowery wrote her book (with Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley), Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March, she was determined to reach out to young people and, hopefully, inspire them to make a difference.

It worked. Lowery’s struggle – including several beatings and nine arrests prior to her 15th birthday, inspired the actress Ally Sheedy to adapt the book for the stage. Working with Damaras Obi, a senior at at the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts (the school that inspired “Fame”), the story came alive – complete with the sound effects from actual 60s confrontations.

That performance will be staged in Hudson on Saturday, February 13 at 3pm as a benefit for the Hudson Area Library. The production will take place at the M. C. Smith Intermediary School, 102 Harry Howard Ave., Hudson. Both Ms. Sheedy and Ms. Lowery will make an appearance following the production. Copies of the book will be available for sale – courtesy of Spotty Dog Books and Ale. Suggested donation is $10.00 per person, students free.

Besides inspiring a stage production, the book has been used for lessons by 5th grade teacher Edgar Acevedo and has prompted his students to delve further into the Civil Rights Movement. The Hudson High School Choir, under the direction of Andrea Mastrianni, learned songs from the era and will perform prior to the play.

This topic has galvanized the City of Hudson. Last week the Library-sponsored “Civil Rights Show and Tell” drew more than 40 people, from ages 16 to 80, to fill the reading room and share tales of local residents’ participation in the Movement. Attendees included young students, who expressed gratitude and surprise at those white Freedom Riders and Demonstrators who put themselves on the line, “When it wasn’t even for themselves.” African American residents spoke about change that has happened and the ongoing need for further change in order to bring about full equality. Included in the “show and tell” was a moving 2-minute video created by Jim Peppler, an award-winning photographer who spent 3 years recording the violence for the newspaper of record, The Southern Courier.

Bringing this story to life – through teaching, testifying and adapting for the stage, has more than advanced Ms. Lowery’s goal – as she recently told Arun Rath, commentator on National Public Radio.

“I would like for young people to know that each day of your life is a journey into history,” she said. “You have the ability to change something each day of your life. …It can’t happen without you.”

The project is presented by the Loire Valley Theater Festival, Miranda Barry, producer, and the Hudson Area Library. Additional support from the Martha Boschen Porter Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Galvan Foundation, the David Murphy Charitable Fund, Hudson River Bank and Trust, and in-kind contributions from the Hudson City School District.

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Freedom March is Inspiration for All Generations

Damaras Obi will perform the starring – and only – role in a production of “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom” by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, at MC Smith Intermediate School on February 13 at 3pm.

Damaras Obi will perform the starring – and only – role in a production of “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom” by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, at MC Smith Intermediate School on February 13 at 3pm.

It’s not often that you find a story that can inspire young people and adults of any race, any age.  Lynda Blackmon Lowery’s Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom has defied the odds.  It is the story of a teenager who was motivated to join the struggle for voting rights for African Americans when Dr. Martin Luther King spoke at her church.  She was arrested nine times before her fifteenth birthday and risked everything to march with her neighbors from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.

The book came to the attention of a teacher at Fiorello LaGuardia High School for Music, Art and Performing Arts, NYC, who began to work at adapting it for performance.  It didn’t hurt that the teacher was Ally Sheedy, a recognized film actress known for her starring roles in The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire. High Artand Psych.   Nor did it hurt that Ms. Sheedy worked with senior acting student, Damaras Obi, who became so enthralled by the story that she immersed herself in the history of the times.

“Lynda’s experience growing up in Selma during segregation was a terrifying one,” Obi said.  “At fifteen, my only worries were acting and keeping my grades up in school.  Lynda walked out her door every day with the desire to be seen as human – something I have not had to fight for.  Portraying her has been an inspiring journey.  I now carry those lessons of steady, loving confrontation with me in my daily life.”

The result of this extraordinary collaboration among Lowery and her co-authors, Sheedy, and Obi is the performance that will take place in Hudson on Saturday, February 13th at 3pm at the MC Smith Intermediate School.  Ms. Sheedy will be directing and Ms. Obi will star.  In addition, the Hudson High School Choir will open the event, performing songs from the era.  The printed program will include photographs depicting the events of that march.  Mrs. Lowery will speak to the audience at the conclusion of the performance, sharing her experiences and answering questions.  The book will be available for sale courtesy of Spotty Dog Books and Ale.

The author, who wrote Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom with Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley, is eager to tell her story to young people and will also be on hand for an earlier performance being presented for students only on Friday, the 12th.  The producers are reaching out to surrounding school districts to make them aware of this special opportunity.    “I would like young people to know that each day of your life is a journey into history,” Lowery says.  “You have the ability to change something each day of your life.”

The performance of Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom takes place on Saturday, February 13 at 3pm at Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School, 182 Harry Howard Avenue, Hudson.  The suggested donation is $10 for adults and free for children under the age of 12.  All tickets will be sold at the door.  Proceeds will benefit the Hudson Area Library.

The project is presented by the Loire Valley Theatre Festival, Miranda Barry, Producer, and the Hudson Area Library, with generous support from the Martha Boschen Porter Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, The Galvan Foundation, the David Murphy Charitable Fund, Hudson River Bank and Trust, and the Hudson City School District.

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Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom

Turning15-Final2 -HRLynda Blackmon was one of the youngest participants in the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. Now her story, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom, has been adapted for the stage by actress and director, Ally Sheedy.

“I would like for young people to know that each day of your life is a journey into history,” Lowery told National Public Radio’s commentator, Arun Rath. “You have the ability to change something each day of your life. Believe it or not, people, it can’t happen without you.”

The performance, starring Damaras Obi, a senior acting student from the Fiorello LaGuardia High School for Music, Art and the Performing Arts, will be performed on Saturday, February 13 at 3pm at the MC Smith Intermediate School in Hudson. Ms. Sheedy and Mrs. Lowery will both be in attendance and will follow up the performance with live discussion. A donation of $10.00 per person is suggested. Children under 12 will be admitted free of charge.

The project is presented by the Loire Valley Theatre Festival, Miranda Barry, Producer, with support from the Martha Boeschen Porter Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Galvan Foundation, the David Murphy Charitable Fund, the Hudson River Bank and Trust, the Hudson City School District.

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