Black resistance to slavery in PG County inspires ‘Freedom Stories’

Psalmayene 24 to adapt local history for the stage in unique county-wide anti-racist collaboration.

Joe’s Movement Emporium has announced the launching of a unique two-year collaboration among arts, social service, and humanities organizations in Prince Georges County. The initiative will have anti-racist and social justice work at its center in a distinctly multifaceted way and should be of interest to people throughout the DMV and beyond.

Called “Freedom Stories,” it uses as a catalyst the little-known or under-appreciated history of resistance to slavery and oppression in Prince Georges County: resistance that began even before the American war for independence from Great Britain. This project hopes to make present-day Prince George’s County families aware of the ways in which this history and legacy of resistance is their inheritance to embrace and build on. 

The coalition involved in this project includes Joe’s Movement Emporium, Prince George’s Community College Center for Performing Arts, Prince George’s County Historical Society, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, and the Prince George’s County Office of Human Rights.  

The project is rooted in the 2020 book by historian William G. Thomas III, A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War. Around this book several activities are planned:

Playwright Psalmayene 24 being interviewed about ‘Freedom Stories’ by Kristi King for WTOP. Photo courtesy of Joe’s Movement Emporium.

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System and Freedom Stories coalition will host a year-long Prince George’s County Read of the book with monthly discussion events, as well as a range of historical, legal, and educational programs, including filmmaker Chris Haley’s discussion of Unmarked, his documentation of unmarked final resting places, and unmarked cemeteries, of free and formerly enslaved African Americans.

Of great interest to DC Metro Theater Arts readers is the fact that award-winning playwright, director, and actor Psalmayene 24 (Gregory Morrison) has been commissioned to adapt the book for the stage and is expected to bring his usual unique, incisive, and sensitive vision to bear on this project. Sometime in 2022, the as-yet-untitled play will be performed at Joe’s Movement Emporium.

Historian William G. Thomas III and playwright Psalmayene 24 at press event for ‘’Freedom Stories.’ Photo courtesy of Joe’s Movement Emporium.

The Freedom Stories coalition hopes that the combination of these activities through its broad partnering of agencies will foster and facilitate community dialog, awareness, and cohesiveness throughout the county. For more information about Freedom Stories go to joesmovement.org/freedom-stories-news-events.

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