Event box

Speaking of Books with Julius Fleming: Black Patience: Performance, Civil Rights, and the Unfinished Project of Emancipation

Powered by Research Education at University Libraries. Speaking of Books series features free, open to the community and public talks by UMD faculty authors on their recently published work. 

Black Patience: Performance, Civil Rights, and the Unfinished Project of Emancipation (2022) reconsiders the Civil Rights Movement from the perspective of black theatre. It argues that theatre—like television and photography—was a vital tool of civil rights activism and a crucial site of black artistic and cultural production. During this historical moment, black artists and activists turned to the stages of Broadway. They produced plays in the Netherlands, and in U.S. prisons. They performed in the cotton fields of Mississippi, once dodging a bomb tossed from the audience to the stage. Analyzing a largely underexplored, transnational archive of black theatre, this book charts a new cultural and political history of the Civil Rights Movement, and offers new routes to perennial questions about race, gender, sexuality, performance, and black political modernity. Taking this archival intervention as its foundation, Black Patience argues that black people used theatre in the Civil Rights Movement to unsettle a violent racial project that Fleming calls black patience. From slave castles to the holds of slave ships, from auction blocks to commands to “go slow” in fighting segregation, black people have historically been forced to wait and coerced into performing patience. During the movement, however, their radical cries for “freedom now” disturbed the historical practice of deploying black patience as a tool of anti-black oppression. Theatre was crucial to these efforts. Whether staging Waiting for Godot at a black church in the Mississippi Delta, or James Baldwin’s Blues for Mister Charlie in London, or Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun in Indiana during the 1963 emancipation centennial to illuminate how black people were still waiting for freedom a century later, black people used theatre to challenge the violent cultures of black patience. In studying these acts, this book not only unfurls theatre’s cultural and political value to the movement, but also elaborates the constitutive role of racialized time (e.g., waiting) and affect (e.g., long-suffering) in the production of racial modernity.

Thursday, October 26, 2023
12:30PM - 1:30PM
Piano Room, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library
Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library
Faculty/Staff   General Public   Graduate Students   Undergraduate Students  
Registration has closed.