The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a pivotal time in the Civil Rights Era that attracted nationwide attention. Tomorrow night, the Alabama State University Theater Arts Department and the Mount Zion Center Foundation bring it back to life in one-night-only event.
Almost 60 years ago, Rosa Parks was arrested for what was called civil disobedience, when she refused to give up her seat to a white person on a Montgomery City bus. What happened after would change America forever.
Actors and actresses in Montgomery have come together to pay homage to a pivotal time in U.S. history. The play, called The Meeting at Mount Zion focuses on a specific event during the Civil Rights Era where several ministers met to discuss Rosa Parks' arrest and to establish the Montgomery Improvement Association, which led to the bus boycott. Dr. Tommie 'Tonea' Stewart is the producing director and a child of the Civil Rights Movement. She says for her, this play hits home.
"It's important to me because somebody cared enough that the day would come that because Rosa Parks sat down, we would always have a reason to stand up."
The play features notable characters, including E.D. Nixon, Ralph Abernathy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lucian Ward plays E.D. Nixon and says he believes the play is timely.
"In the wake of what's going on in our county right now and so many people are in unrest, it's going to be refreshing to hear that you can make your way through a struggle with non-violence."
Other actors bring real-life experience to the play. West Marcus tells us he was 16 during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
"It was only later that I realized the gravity of the situation and this play has really brought out some highly significant things that I've never thought of before," he says.
Marcus plays the arresting officer, who takes Rosa Parks off the bus. He says the boycott didn't just affect African Americans.
"It changed our lives too because the white people had to say, hey, wait a minute..."
Those with the play tell us they want to educate and inspire others through their work. And Dr. Stewart says she wants the audience to leave the theater reflecting.
"I want them to feel that something happened in Montgomery, Alabama that should never be forgotten," she says.
The Meeting at Mount Zion is Friday, July 26th, 7PM at the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre. For tickets, you can purchase on ticketmaster.com or by calling 1 800 745 3000. Funds from ticket sales will go to restore Mount Zion Church and to put in place an exhibit.