Aesthetic Realism Answer to Racism event celebrates 5th Anniversary
ABOVE PHOTO: Unsung pioneers--(top l-r) Telissa Dowling, Diana Jeffery, Cherre Ogden, Erma Greene, Nathaniel Briggs, Rev. Dr. Henry Davis, Jr., (bottom l-r) Jeanette Lane, Alice Bernstein, Jimmy Richardson, Rabbi Israel Dresner, Gail Huland El.
(Photograph by David Bernstein)
The 5th anniversary performance of “The People of Clarendon County”--A Play by Ossie Davis, & the Answer to Racism! based on the book edited by journalist and Aesthetic Realism Associate Alice Bernstein, took place December 13th in the ballroom of the Somerset Run Clubhouse, sponsored by the Somerset community’s Charitable & Cultural Club (C&C).
The large diverse audience of Christians, Muslims, and Jews, black and white, heard what audiences around the country have been hearing: about little known events in the struggle for civil rights, and how this fight is illuminated by the education that explains and can end racism: Aesthetic Realism, founded by the great philosopher Eli Siegel.
In her welcome, Sheila Aronoff told how C&C had heard from her husband about “the very exciting work that Alice and her colleagues are doing to fight racism. He’d seen their program at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn last year and said ‘This is a must for C&C’!”
The 1955 play by the revered actor and activist Ossie Davis chronicles the brave black parents in Clarendon County, South Carolina who risked their jobs, homes, and very lives, to fight for decent education for all children. Their lawsuit led to the landmark Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, outlawing segregation in public schools. Why was such a fight necessary at all? That question is asked—and answered—in this program!
A gripping performance of Ossie Davis’s “The People of Clarendon County” was enacted by Marty Honig from Somerset, as the Narrator; Jeffrey Williams played Rev. Joseph DeLaine, the NAACP leader from Clarendon County; and Allan Michael and Mugga gave powerful portrayals of Mary and William Ragin, parents whose son attended the inferior black school. As an overture, Barbara Klausner of Somerset sang two spirituals evoking the struggle for freedom.
The event concluded with a salute to unsung pioneers of civil rights present in the audience, including Nathaniel Briggs, whose parents’ name heads the Clarendon County lawsuit, Briggs v. Elliott, and reform Rabbi Israel Dresner from New Jersey, whose passionate participation in protests with Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1960s (North and South), led to his being known as “the most arrested Rabbi in America.” Officials from NAACP branches in Montclair, Jersey City, and Bergen County were acknowledged, as was Rev. Dr. Henry Davis, Jr., president of Greater Red Bank NAACP branch. Originally from Texas, Rev. Davis attended segregated schools there, and has continued to work in behalf of justice all these years.
The audience heard from teacher-educator Dr. Arnold Perey about the success of the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method. Technical difficulties prevented the showing of a video example of a lesson which educator Monique Michael (born in Haiti) has presented at all previous events. However, the lesson can be read in the book and will soon be available on the Internet, so that everyone can experience this interactive first grade lesson on diversity in birds and in people, which shows why the Aesthetic Realism method brings out every child’s true intelligence and ends prejudice in the classroom! To learn more, call (212) 741-8905, or visit the not-for-profit website for the Clarendon County event: www.AllianceOfEthicsAndArt.org
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