American Slavery Project to Hold Virtual Juneteenth 'Black Women and the Ballot' Presentation

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Phylicia Rashad

Tony winner Phylicia Rashad will perform in a series of radio plays set to stream on Friday, the anniversary of the day slavery was abolished in the U.S. in 1865.

American Slavery Project (ASP) is partnering with more than a dozen theater companies for a presentation of Black Women and the Ballot, a collection of three short radio plays that will be available to stream on Friday, June 19, also known as Juneteenth.

This year's Juneteenth marks the 155th anniversary of the day slavery was abolished in the U.S. in 1865. Black Women and the Ballot comes at a poignant time as people across the country continue to hold protests as part of the reignited Black Lives Matter movement, a direct response to the killing of George Floyd and unceasing police brutality against unarmed Black men and women. 

Black Women and the Ballot will depict rebellions large and small mounted by Black women to progress voting rights, which seems especially important as 2020 marks the 100th anniversary year of Women’s Suffrage. The performances can be accessed from the American Slavery Project website, on ASP’s YouTube channel and through Crossroads Theatre’s website Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The lineup includes Don’t/Dream written by Saviana Stanescu; and In the Parlour and Pulling the Lever by ASP's producing artistic director, Judy Tate. Tony winner Phylicia Rashad will perform in Pulling the Lever.

"Black Women and the Ballot marks American Slavery Project’s entrance into the virtual space of theatre performance since COVID-19 swept in changing our lives, our livelihoods and the way theatre is consumed," said Tate in a statement. "We are proud that this is many of our partner theaters' first production on a virtual platform and the topic of voting could not be more critical in this moment of social upheaval."

The radio plays — highlighting ASP's platform Voter Outreach Thru Theatre Engagement (V.O.T.E.) — will be accompanied by visuals to enrich the virtual experience, including photos from previous productions of the plays and historic milestones.

Many theater companies are collaborating with ASP on the event, including Crossroads Theatre Company, Civic Ensemble, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Conch Shell Productions, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Harlem Stage, Hartbeat Ensemble, Liberation Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, Tony Howell Productions, Society for Ethical Culture, It's a Tribe (Shamel Pitts), The New Black Fest and Bridge Street Theatre.