I Shall Not Be Moved

Isaiah Reaves
Pereko Makgothi alongside the Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati
Greenside @ Riddles Court

I Shall Not be Moved

Betty Daniels Rosemond is one of those courageous 1960s civil rights agitators that helped challenge the racism of the American Southern States. Her grandson, Isaiah Reaves, drew on her journals to give us a glimpse of her experience in his play I Shall Not be Moved which gets its name from a list she made of titles for her possible memoir.

Samantha Russell, in a fine performance as Betty, stands by a bus stop speaking directly to the audience about events that drew her into the movement and some of the hair-raising actions she became involved in.

One of the key experiences that provoked her into actively joining the struggle was her mother’s failed attempt to vote under the local Jim Crow laws which set black people questions designed to disqualify them from voting.

In one of her first actions, she is shocked when two white lads spit at her and prevent her from entering a store the protesters were trying to desegregate.

Even more scary is an account of a particular freedom ride in which she was one of those on a bus intended to break local Southern racial segregation rules. They knew it could be risky given an earlier bus had been bombed. Simply stopping for a toilet break in Poplarville, a place where a black man, not a long time before, had been lynched, was risky.

Betty was the observer who took notes, so when white men bundled a number of them into a pickup, she phoned the details into the organisational centre for the freedom riders. As a result, the bus left without her and she spent a terrifying night dodging local white racists.

This is a clear, at times exciting account of one woman's part in an important part of history that inspired people across the world.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna