Native Mobilian Frye Gaillard has devoted a significant portion of his life to the study of Southern race relations. It has been a shadow of his life both in his journeys away from Mobile and upon his return as a writer-in-residence at the University of South Alabama.
The author of “Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America,” Gaillard will speak at a special event in Bernheim Hall at the Ben May Public Library (701 Government St.) on Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. Gaillard will be joined by Carl Cunningham Jr., Ph.D., director of multicultural affairs at USA and advisor for the African-American Student Association and Mobile Kappa League. Both men will draw from their personal and professional experiences to speak about civil rights history, legacy and ongoing struggles.
The free event is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ state affiliate, the Alabama Humanities Foundation. Additional support is supplied by cosponsors Alabama Contemporary Art Center and the Mobile Public Library.
As part of the ACAC’s “History Refused to Die” exhibition, Gaillard will offer recollections of his work covering civil rights activities as a reporter for the Charlotte Observer in the 1960s and discuss how the exhibit bridges gaps in our understanding between demographic groups.
Cunningham will offer more contemporary reflection on African-American existence in the modern South. His work developing leadership skills and cultural awareness among newer generations of African-Americans keeps him abreast of the issues they face.
For more information, contact Amanda Solley, education and program manager at Alabama Contemporary Art Center, at 251-208-5658.
Living museum onstage at MTG
When playwright George C. Wolfe penned “The Colored Museum,” he was thinking of more than stale representations of a past under glass. His goal was to show how archetypes, stereotypes and cultural pressures combined to influence contemporary African-Americans in ways they never considered.
The result is a play that creates both amusement and discomfort in most who witness it. It’s also the presentation from Mobile Theatre Guild (14 N. Lafayette St.) for Black History Month.
The play is an indictment of racist institutions and behaviors, referencing those who gave their lives for a thankless system and the replacement of African religion with an oppressor’s belief system, to stereotypes of Mammy and basketball stars. The play warns African-Americans against self-perpetuation of stereotypes.
Equally the play charges African-Americans with moving forward in progress. Wolfe postulates too many as stuck in a “time warp” — as shown in its title — and afraid to venture beyond old roles. He warns against the appropriation of non-African-American culture, against materialism and European standards of beauty, or fulfilling destructive attitudes regarding domestic violence and homophobia.
By the playwright’s reckoning, neither past nor present holds all the answers for a better future. Balance is the best way to break the stagnant confines of “The Colored Museum.”
Directed by Theola Bright, the cast includes Terri Jackson, India Griffin, Raquel McCowin, Christopher Harden, Trejhaun Dueberry, Mario Wills, Aaron Meadows, Lauren Otis, Nancy Malone, Charelle Lett, Howard Johnson, Tara Moorer, Sharrell Edmond, Shquana Washington, Melody Zeidan, Becca Bell-Cross, Ravyn Otis, Lillian Nelson, Gabrielle Zeidan and Tanayah Williams.
It opens Feb. 19 and runs three weekends through March 6. Friday and Saturday curtain is at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $20, $15 for seniors, students and military. Tickets are available online at mobiletheatreguild.org.
For more information call 251-433-7513.
State museum conference bound for Mobile
Museum nerds, rejoice, for your day is at hand! Your brethren are inbound.
The Alabama Museum Association will convene March 6-8 in the Yellowhammer State’s best town for such a gathering. Of all Mobile’s qualities, its most exemplary is likely its museums and similar showplaces.
A look at the schedule shows the Azalea City’s best on display. It starts with the host hotel, the newly renovated Admiral Hotel downtown. (Note to Hilton: you can dub it anything you want but in a town where the Loop hasn’t seen a streetcar roundabout in nearly a century, it’s always going to be called the Admiral Semmes.)
The conference starts off on Sunday evening with a mixer at the Carnival Museum.
On Monday, things head to the University of South Alabama, where attendees will listen to personnel from the GulfQuest Maritime Museum. They will break away and head to the USA Archaeology Museum for a spell before taking a trolley to the Mobile Museum of Art.
Once at the showplace in Langan Park, a variety of addresses will encompass things such as the future of museums, the future of education and how to empower museum visitors. Most of the speakers that day are Mobilians.
After another trolley ride to Oakleigh for a cocktail party, the attendees will meet at Alabama Contemporary Art Center for dinner.
Tuesday begins at the History Museum of Mobile. After touring the museum and hearing from some panels and case studies, they will walk to the Gulf Coast Exploreum for workshops and talks.
The closing portion will include sessions and workshops with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission and their component committees. All told, it sounds like a great opportunity for Mobile to show educators and cultural personnel all we have to offer.
For more detailed agendas or registration information, go to alabamamuseums.org.