Selma students to premiere “Selma Again”

Published 10:42 am Thursday, February 29, 2024

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A highly-touted performance arts company in Boston is working with Selma students for the musical “Selma Again.”

“Selma Again” will make its debut on March 1 at Ellwood Christian Academy (ECA) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for a suggested donation of $5. Students get in free.

The Selma collaboration is part of a new nonprofit initiative, the Selma Cross-Cultural Nonviolence & Performing Arts Academy, founded by Dallas County natives, Selma Movement organizers and Bloody Sunday foot soldiers Charles Bonner and Viola Douglas; Rev. Gary Crum of Elwood Christian Church and co-directors Anna Myer and Jay Paris. 

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“For us, it’s a chance to bring our performing artists down to work together in Selma to create a new meaning to celebrate,”  Paris said. “For me, it’s a chance to see what Selma means to the world.”

The production of  “Selma Again” is a play about the Queen City’s civil rights legacy, current struggles, and dreams for revitalization. The play is dedicated to promoting nonviolence and the advancement of peace and healing through the performing arts and filmmaking. 

Seven poets and eight dancers make up the act. Cast members are Oliver Burns, Rashad Smiley, Dakohai Matityahu, Dalton Mims, Ayiraa Fortier, Zya Marshall,, Adriane Brayton, Skyla Withers, Ja’Siya Sharpe, Christi Griffin, Kweli Rose, Mayra Herandez, Anthony Hopson, Emily Pettway and J’ila Love. 

Myer said her first visit to Selma last year was an eye-opening experience. 

“When we came to Selma for the first time, the downtown was closed down,” Myer said. “This is a historical, monumental area and a valuable place to the world. We were very surprised.”

Paris said that Selma has potential to revitalize themselves.

“We see something special in Selma,” Paris said. “We see people with big hearts and want the city to grow.”

Myer said it’s been a pleasure working with the Selma students and receiving community support.

“We enjoy working with the kids,” Myer said. “We started something cultural in Selma and we want to build on that.”

During the summer,  students will rejoin the artists in Boston, visit peers from the Franklin Field Housing Development in Dorchester for the Selma Again showing with financing from the New Commonwealth Fund.  The LEF Foundation is supporting a documentary of the Selma collaboration. Crum will drive a bus which the students will also visit New York City and Washington, D.C.