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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Local History in a World History Perspective with Dr. Thomas Mounkhall, Sunday, March 30

ThomasMounkhall

The History Room Committee of the Hudson Area Library is pleased to welcome Dr. Thomas Mounkhall to the library on Sunday, March 30 at 3pm as the inaugural speaker in the Hudson Area Library’s Local History Speaker Series. Mounkhall will offer an insightful and thought-provoking presentation highlighting the connections between local and world history.

The History Room Committee’s Local History Speaker Series will offer bimonthly talks on diverse topics related to the history of Hudson, Greenport, Stockport, and Columbia County. In the first presentation of the series, Dr. Mounkhall will link important regional historical events with significant contemporary developments in World History, which have had some important influence in the area. In doing so, he will place Hudson’s local history in the broad perspective of World History, linking the city to the Grand Banks, South America, Polynesia, Siberia and Western Europe. 

Dr. Mounkhall has a doctorate in Modern World History from St. John’s University and over thirty years of experience teaching World History in secondary schools. He is a former Adjunct Professor at SUNY New Paltz and has directed institutes in World History for high school teachers around the country. 

The presentation will be held on the first floor of the Hudson Area Library, with wheelchair access on the northeast side of the building. Admission is free and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Light refreshments will be served.

The Hudson Area Library’s History Room houses a special collection that pertains to the history of the City of Hudson, as well as Columbia County and New York State. The History Room is open Tuesday evenings from 5:30-7:30pm, Saturdays from 10am-12pm, and by appointment.

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March is National Women’s History Month

National Women’s History Month celebrates the achievements of women in all fields of work and study, past and present. This month started out as a national celebration in 1981 as “Women’s History Week,” which began March 7. After Congress was petitioned by the National Women’s History Project for several years, Women’s History Week finally became Women’s History Month in 1987. Celebrate Women’s History Month by reading and learning about famous female figures in history, from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Amelia Earhart. Here is a sampling of items focusing on women’s history from the Hudson collection:

ridefreedom

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) / Sue Macy 

See how the bicycle helped women escape the confines of daily life by providing them with greater mobility, better exercise, and eventually, social reform.

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World / Sy Montgomery 

Learn how Dr. Temple Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism as a teenager, revolutionized the livestock industry and became an autism advocate.

From Pocahontas to Power Suits: Everything You Need to Know About Women’s History in America / Kay Mills 

Learn about famous figures in American history, from Susan B. Anthony to Jane Addams to Eleanor Roosevelt, and how they helped change the United States to become what it is today.

shattering the glass

Shattering the Glass: The Remarkable History of Women’s Basketball / Pamela Grundy and Susan Shackelford

This book focuses on the history and evolution of women’s basketball, as well as its close links with the expansion of women’s economic and political rights.

From Parlor to Prison: Five American Suffragists Talk About Their Lives / edited with introduction by Sherna Gluck, foreword by Kathryn Kish Sklar

Hear in their own words what it was like to be a suffragist during the Women’s Rights Movement.

SoniaSotomayor

My Beloved World: A Memoir / Sonia Sotomayor 

In this new release, Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, recounts her life from her life in a Bronx housing project to the federal bench.

W.A.R. !Women Art Revolution / Lynn Hershman Leeson (DVD)  Explore the history of feminist artwork from its roots in the 1960s to the present.

Want more sources for books on women’s history or feminist literature? Check out these links:

The Amelia Bloomer Project

Popular Feminist Literature

Recommended Books For Women’s History Month

Popular Famous Women Books

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