“Racism is so universal in this country, so widespread, and deep-seated, that it is invisible because it is so normal.” — Shirley Chisholm
A Shirley Chisholm admirer myself, having read her exciting book “Unbought and Unbossed” early on, when her book first came out back in 1970, I had just graduated from McKinley Tech Senior High in 1969. Working at my first office job at American Security Bank (now Bank of America), I remember how excited I was turning page after page, reading her story.
Chisholm, a Methodist woman of faith, made history as the first Black female U.S. representative, elected in 1968 by the voters of New York’s 12th Congressional District. Yet she did it again when she threw her hat in the ring as the first Black major-party presidential candidate in 1972. She was also the first female Democratic candidate for that office (Sen. Margaret Chase Smith had run as a Republican in 1964).
You are all invited to come out to see “Campaign 72,” an award-winning play by Odell Ruffin that reenacts the life of Shirley Chisholm. It returns for select dates between April and May at THEARC, located at 1901 Mississippi Avenue SE in Washington, D.C. Hosted by Lyn Dyson, CEO of the nonprofit and tax-exempt company Multi-Media Training Institute, the play was written and directed by Odell Ruffin and associate director and actor Dominique Brown.
“Campaign 72” reintroduces Shirley Chisholm as the first Black woman to serve in Congress and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. In announcing her candidacy in 1972, she said: “I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States of America, I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am Black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that. … I am the candidate of the people of America. And my presence before you now symbolizes a new era in American political history.”
John Stolenburg of DC Metro said, “But as you begin to appreciate Dominique C. Brown’s meticulous, first-rate impersonation of the ‘badass’ congresswoman from Bed-Stuy, you might well find yourself imagining the legend is back and running again.”
Show dates are as follows for 7 p.m. shows: April 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30; May 10, 11 and 12. The matinee shows are as follows for 2 p.m.: April 23, 24 and 30; May 10, 11 and 12. Virtual and online show access tickets are available on the ticketing website.
“Campaign 72,” is produced by Multi-Media Training Institute, a youth and young adult training and production company. Young people will be behind the scenes in all production areas. In addition, The DC Black Repertory Company Alumni Association will be the co-producer, an organization that was founded to promote the legacy of The DC Black Repertory Company, founded by native son Robert Hooks, actor, director, producer and institution builder.
Dyson, who had this idea, is a fellow schoolmate who also graduated from the school on the hill, McKinley Tech, located at 2nd and T streets in northeast Washington, D.C. I challenge all Techites from 1969-1970 especially to buy tickets and come out to see this dynamic play.
Immediately following the 2 p.m. matinee on April 30, there will be a distinguished panel that will discuss how far African-American women have really come, titled “Campaign 72; From Shirley Chisholm to Kamala Harris, How Far Have African-American Women Really Come.”
The play will feature a distinguished panel, including moderator and facilitator Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, former chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party and widow of Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland. Panelists also include Wanda Heard, the recently retired chief judge of Baltimore City Circuit Court; At-Large D.C. Council member Christina Henderson; and Johnnie Rice, corresponding secretary of the National Congress of Black Women, who actually worked on the Chisholm campaign.
Confirmed panelist, Dr. Koko Zauditu Selassie, Netflix Movie “In Our Mother’s Garden.”
The program is funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding provided by the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant by the US Small Business Administration (SBA).
For tickets and group sales, go to www.mmtidc.org or Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/campaign-72-tickets-260639518817.
Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email email@example.com or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.