The Thin Light of Freedom


Thursday, October 26, 2017 – 7:30 pm

Hippodrome Theater, 528 North Second St., Richmond

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Hear the voices of diverse characters from Northern and Southern communities as they work to make sense of the changes wrought by war, emancipation, and freedom.

Performers Sheila Arnold Jones, Michael Empson, Marvin-Alonzo Greer, and Stephanie Hasselbacher 

Based on Dr. Edward L. Ayers’ new book, The Thin Light of Freedom: Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America, this dramatic presentation presents the voices of soldiers and citizens, free and enslaved, who were affected by the Civil War and its aftermath.

Their stories focus on diverse characters from a Northern community and a Southern community, one in Pennsylvania and one in Virginia, both in the great valley that cuts across the Mason Dixon Line. Soldiers from the two counties fought in the defining battles of the Eastern Theater of the war and their homes and farms were burned in raids by invading enemy troops. Though the two communities shared common soil, climate, crops, ethnicities, political cultures, and religious faiths, one fundamental difference divided them: slavery.

African American people’s position and experience occupy center stage throughout, from enslavement to enlistment to emancipation, from being property to owning property, from being the object of politics to expressing their own political views through voting.

Co-sponsored by the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, the program was written by Abigail Schumann and Sheila Arnold Jones. Schumann is an Emmy Award-winning producer, director, and writer of educational history programs for stage and screen, and has more than 30 years of experience portraying women of the past for modern audiences. Jones is a performer who presents storytelling programs, historic character presentations, professional development for educators, and inspirational and motivation presentations for schools, churches and organizations throughout the U.S.

Seating for the program is limited and reservations are encouraged. Cost is $20 per person, $10 per person for students, teachers, and ACWM and BHMVA members.

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