One-woman play about 1957 racial integration of Little Rock schools comes to Portland

During the 31st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast this morning actress Almeria Campbell performed a scene from the one-woman play “Warriors Don’t Cry,” adapted from the memoir of the same name by Melba Patillo Beals.

Beals was one of the so-called Little Rock Nine, the first group of black students to attend a previously all-white high school in Little Rock, Ark., where in 1957 they endured all forms of abuse in pursuit of equal access to education. Campbell, using few props during her holiday excerpt today, channeled Beals’ feelings of excitement about attending a new school and the dread of realizing mobs of angry whites stood between her and her first classes there.

It’s worth mentioning that the full version of the play will be performed Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall, in a show sponsored in part by Portland Ovations and the city’s branch of the NAACP. Tickets to the show are listed for $10 for students and $25 for the general public.

Here’s a bit of a preview of the play, highlighting some memorable moments of a previous Campbell performance. Be forewarned, these clips include what is described as “historically accurate language,” and like the Wednesday night play, the video is for mature audiences only.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.