Reenactment of 1963 Civil Rights Roundtable

Reenactment of 1963 Civil Rights Roundtable, Held After Historic March on Washington

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 at 7:00 PM
Performance at Dewey Hall in Sheffield, MA
to Benefit Clinton Church Restoration

Performance at Dewey Hall to Benefit Clinton Church Restoration1963 civil rights roundtable

On the day of the 1963 “March for Jobs and Freedom,” at which Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, a group of celebrity participants gathered for a televised discussion on civil rights. That gathering, known as “The Hollywood Roundtable,” will be re-enacted in a special performance at Dewey Hall in Sheffield on Aug. 9, 2017 at 7 p.m. The program will benefit the Clinton Church Restoration project.

Joining CBS journalist and moderator David Schoenbrun on August 28, 1963 were James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Sydney Poitier, Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston and Joseph Manckiewicz, who were all in Washington for the civil rights march. The filmed roundtable was one of several short documentaries the United States Information Agency produced about the march as part of its ongoing efforts to influence perceptions of the United States around the world.

Local actor Levi Joseph will direct the Dewey Hall reenactment. He will also join David Asaph, Frank Gioia, Brian Kantor, Johanne Kesten, Grace Rossman and Joe Scully in the cast. Joseph’s inspiration for the project came while studying 1960s-era videos of acclaimed American writer and social critic James Baldwin.

“I was inspired particularly by Baldwin’s thoughts and willingness to speak the truth,” Joseph said. “When I came across the roundtable clip with Baldwin, Poitier, Brando, Heston, and the others, I thought this would be a valuable opportunity for community discussion.”

Joseph put out a call for participants on Facebook and quickly assembled a cast. The group has spent months with the material, delving deeply into the characters and issues of the Civil Rights movement. They also explored how those issues are relevant today.

The Aug. 9 performance at Dewey Hall will be followed by a discussion with the cast and a reception for the Clinton Church Restoration. Donations from the event will help support the nonprofit’s restoration of the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church at 9 Elm Court in Great Barrington.

Clinton Church Restoration purchased the deconsecrated church, which served the southern Berkshire’s African American community for nearly 130 years, in May. The organization aims to restore and repurpose the building for community use in a manner that celebrates and honors the local African American community, the church’s history, its first female pastor, Rev. Esther Dozier, and the legacy of Great Barrington native son, W.E.B. Du Bois.