Through June 28, 2015
The Castillo Theater
543 West 42nd Street
Director Woodie King has brought Black activist Amiri Baraka’s final play to the stage. The Most Dangerous Man in America (W.E.B. Du Bois) is a story set in the 1950s when renown Negro leader W.E.B. Du Bois, at the age of 82, is unjustly indicted by the U.S. government as being an agent of a foreign power.
In the lead role of Du Bois is former WABC-TV news personality Art McFarland. The role of Shirley Graham Du Bois is played by Petronia Paley. The story revolves around the trial of Du Bois and the support he gets from his friends and community. The pressure by the government is on Du Bois and despite the love of his neighbors—seen in the beauty salon or barber shop, Du Bois leaves America at the height of the civil rights era, and ultimately dies in Ghana, befriended by Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah.
Who would have thought that a stanch radical like Amiri Baraka would relate so strongly to W.E.B. Du Bois? It is thought that Baraka chose this aspect of Du Bois’ life because like Du Bois, Baraka in his later days became a Marxist. And it is easy to correlate the two intellectuals – Baraka and Du Bois – both powerful Black activists, neither of whom are adequately appreciated or credited for the contributions they made to Black enlightenment and vision.
The Most Dangerous Man in America is a thoughtful look at a period in Black history that has been forgotten by many. It is rare to hear Du Bois quoted the way Martin or Malcolm are but he was at one time the principal spokesman for American Negroes. McFarland delivers Du Bois’ speeches eloquently, helping to give audiences a rare look into a man often overlooked by Black activists and the community.
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