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.