To kick off Black History Month, Vulcan Park and Museum commissioned and hosted Washington & DuBois: Two Opinions, One Goal, a two-man play as part of their educational series “Birmingham Revealed” and the state’s Alabama Bicentennial celebration.
The play covered post war thoughts and actions of civil rights leaders W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. The setting of the play was based on the two meeting up with each other after death and being put on trial to defend themselves and their beliefs, which leads to a debate between the two.
Actors Antonio Mitchell (who played Booker T. Washington) and David Parker (who played W.E.B. Du Bois) did a spectacular job at portraying the thoughts and feelings of the two historical figures. They gave us a view on two different perspectives on the advancement of African Americans.
- W.E.B. Du Bois based his views on elitism and demanding the respect and recognition from their white counterparts. He was known as an ‘agitator’ that demanded equality and political revolution.
- Booker T. Washington, on the other hand, based his views on patience along with the idea of earning the respect from their white counterparts. He was known for avoiding conflict and revolt, knowing that it would only end in bloodshed and believing in time equality will happen.
You can imagine why the two sides needed to be expressed and heard. Before the show, I asked Museum Specialist, Lindsay Elliott why they decided on doing a series such as this and she said, “We wanted to educate in an entertaining and interactive way, we even plan on bringing the show to local schools, so they can learn more early on!”
During the Q&A portion, the question arose for director Dennis McLernon “What was your inspiration and goals for this play?”. He answered “I wanted to shed light on an unacknowledged rivalry. There was no mentioning of the two in the same breath even though they often butted heads.” It presented two sides of an opinion on equality that is still very relevant today in a way that definitely moved the audience.
The actors left the audience with the same question I ask you, who is correct?
Thanks so much to Kara Kennedy and the Vulcan Park and Museum for allowing us to witness that phenomenal performance! To find out when the next event at Vulcan Park and Museum is, click here.