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.