The story of Fighting Shirley is coming to the stage at Southampton Arts Center for one afternoon only on Sunday, Aug. 1.
Written and performed by Ingrid Griffith, and directed by Zoya Kachadurian, “Shirley Chisholm: Unbossed and Unbowed” tells the largely unheard story of Shirley St. Hill Chisholm, a Brooklyn-born politician of immigrant parents, who in the 20th Century, was the first African-American woman to win a seat in the U.S. Congress and run for the Presidency of the United States.
This performance, at 2 p.m. is being produced with Southampton African American Museum, and will be followed by a panel discussion. Tickets are $30 and are available at southamptonartscenter.org/live.
“This compelling one-woman show telling the story of an important historical figure and icon, not just to women, but to numerous marginalized communities, promises to be something special,” notes SAC executive director Tom Dunn. “While this performance dramatizes the Civil Rights era, it’s also relevant to what we still see in politics today. It’s an honor to present this important work alongside our friends at Southampton African American Museum, which formally opened on Juneteenth this year.”
“It’s been over 50 years since Shirley Chisholm fought for civil rights, women’s rights and justice for the disenfranchised,” said Ms. Griffith. “We are in a moment in history when we must continue the fight she waged so bravely. It’s time we all know Shirley Chisholm’s story. Our country is at a tipping point, suspended between great peril and great possibilities. Shirley Chisholm is not with us but we can gain strength from her spirit, vision and strategies.”
The story journeys back to 10-year old Chisholm returning to the United States after being separated from her parents during The Great Depression. We see how the years living with her grandmother in Barbados manifested and reinforced her Caribbean heritage in her bearing, speech pattern and expectations of herself.
Chisholm’s childhood also shows how race and gender were intended by society to determine how far she would go in life, why as a young woman she chose to fight for the disenfranchised, and what it took for her to rise.
Unbossed & Unbowed dramatizes the Civil Rights era, the unrest of the 1960s, the patriarchal system and the all-boys network Chisholm was up against, many themes we still see in the politics of today.
Visuals and music establish the tenor of the times and create mental images of the economic, political and social upheavals in America from the 1930s to the early 1970s. The characters in this performance all have strong voices and valid points-of-view, but it’s Chisholm’s narrative that delivers the story’s message.
The Southampton Arts Center continues to follow all New York State and CDC guidelines for all programs and events, and can be reached at 631.283.0967.