By Samantha Bartholomew
Broadway actress Mzuri Moyo honored civil rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, in a one-woman performance April 21.
Hamer was a voting rights activist who served as a vice chairperson of the Mississippi Democratic Party and as a representative at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.
Despite the pivotal role she played in the civil rights movement, Hamer is a forgotten figure in history classrooms.
“Most people don’t know her name, but I am moved by her story,” Moyo said.
In the weeks before the performance, teachers on campus were asked to question their students on their knowledge of the civil rights movement.
The results demonstrated the limited information students had been given, with most only having knowledge of figures such as Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
For Dr. Wolde-Ab Isaac, this was disappointing but unsurprising.
“We are not very well-informed on the civil rights movement in this country,” Isaac said.
It is for this reason that Moyo describes her play as the “the story of the forgotten people.”
Moyo has performed this play in more than 20 states since first writing it in 2001.
Throughout her performance, Moyo’s depiction of Hamer pushed the importance of exercising the right to vote as well as remaining informed.
“People vote for what they don’t know, for what they don’t understand,” Isaac said.
Kristi Woods, dean of the History, Philosophy and Humanities department, was moved to tears by Moyo’s performance.
“The songs from the civil rights movement were the songs of my childhood,” Woods said.
Woods was not the only one to become overwhelmed by the emotions that Moyo brought to her performance.
“It is a pity that words are enough to express one’s feelings,” Isaac said.
Though the performance was based on events of the past, Moyo made connections to the political and human climates that are faced today.
The topics addressed included police brutality and the fight for reproductive rights.
“Those who want to suppressed live in darkness,” Isaac said. “We must remain aware that the darkness is always weakened by the light.”