Laurie T. Freed, Artistic Director for Peace Mountain Theatre Company
I was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota. When I heard of the murder of George Floyd I was incredulous. Not my state! Not my people! But it was in my state, my sister city over the Mississippi River, Minneapolis.
In thinking about this horrific event, my mind returned to two incidents that occurred when I was a young girl. It was December in Saint Paul and my school, John Marshall Middle School, was having a winter dance. Kids were dancing and I watched how no one would dance with David. Now David was one of the smartest boys in the school and by far one of the nicest. But, David was not white; he was African American. I stepped forward and asked David if he would dance with me. All eyes shifted to us; not a word was spoken. Now, I am not congratulating myself for this very small decision, but I think it speaks volumes of where we were at. It was an unwritten law at that school that the black kids stayed with their kind, and the whites with theirs. I moved on to Central high school and joined the choir. Springtime meant putting on a musical and that year BRIGADOON was chosen. The best male voice in that choir was held by an African American boy. Did he get the part? No. In fact, the choir mistress told him that because he was “Negro” and the female lead was white, they could not be matched together and perform “love scenes”. And so, he found himself in the ensemble. No one in the choir talked about this, but we all knew. These life events happened many years ago and that is what is so sad. Nothing seems to have changed. I, as well as my fellow Peace Mountain Theatre Company Board members, are praying that justice prevails for George Floyd, and all the undeserved, marginalized, and discriminated against citizens of America. This cannot EVER happen again. Black Lives DO Matter!