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I leave you love: an audio drama on the life and legacy of Mary Macleod Bethune

I leave you love: an audio drama about Mary Macleod Bethune
Posted By: on November 03, 2021

Vanitas Arts Celebrates ‘Hidden’ Black Suffragette
with launch of brand new audio drama in Black History Month UK 2021

Vanitas Arts, a Story Production Company are launching a new audio drama podcast in celebration of ‘those we have lost & choose to remember’ in this year’s Black History Month in the UK.

This podcast tells the story of one of the most important Black female activists in American history. An educationalist, civil rights leader and suffragette, Mary McLeod Bethune who changed the lives of many African Americans against the backdrop of facing the danger of the Ku Klux **** and their supporters.

Born in 1875, the fifteenth of seventeen children to former slaves; Mary devoted her life to activism and ensuring African Americans maintained the right to freedom from discrimination; opening schools, colleges, and Universities, advising US Presidents and ultimately becoming a member of Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet in 1932.

The audio drama featuring extracts from the drama ‘I Leave You Love’, The Mary McLeod Bethune Story is written by Dr Anita Franklin, a Northern based playwright. An African American writer, Anita specialises in developing work that explores the impact of oppression on marginalised individuals and communities and their self determination and empowerment. She brings her lived experience, academic, writing, and creative skills to this unique and exciting collaboration.

The audio drama extracts are set alongside discussions between Dr Franklin, Director Amanda Huxtable and Writer Desirée Reynolds, all Northern based female artists, and activists.

“Vanitas Arts loves searching for and finding stories long forgotten or neglected and sharing with the world. We are very proud to be building a home where storytellers can build together with us a world we have all been waiting for.’ Amanda Huxtable and Shirley Harris,
Vanitas Arts

Digital Storyteller and Co-Director at Vanitas Arts Amanda Huxtable says; “The principles that Mary McLeod Bethune fought for still stand today; access to quality education or even education itself, equity for Black women and women in a wider context and those of us who face racism.

“I doubt Mary would have been impressed by pace of progress made so far, but I hope she would be proud and maybe even a little thrilled to know about our honouring her by acknowledging and cherishing the empowerment of her story.”

Dr Anita Franklin said; “I’m proud to share my writing about Mary McLeod Bethune’s story. In doing so we can see not only a wealth of political activism in recent history from an American Black Female Leader who cared about Black people and women in particular, progressing worldwide. We can examine our own activism and lives in the context of such a remarkable life from humble beginnings.”

Desirée Reynolds said “Working with Vanitas Arts on this podcast taught me so much about Mary McCleoud Bethune, about resilience, women's resilience and how much we have yet to learn about whose shoulders that we stand. Vanitas continues to deliver high quality work and this new podcast, combining fiction and discussion gives the listener a chance to delve into the world of Mary McCleoud Bethune and to witness what we mean by female friendship and the honouring of who went before.”

Episode one of the audio drama will be available for download from x October from the Vanitas Arts website – www.vanitasarts.co.uk - with more to be broadcast over the next few months, where the subject of Fear, Hope is Not Enough and Moving Forward will be the focus of three subsequent episodes.



Following the broadcast of the audio drama, Vanitas Arts will be taking the full drama into live performance in venues across the North of England.

For more information, visit www.vanitasarts.co.uk


ENDS


Notes to editors

Vanitas Arts is a collaboration between Director and Producer Amanda Huxtable and Artist and Producer Shirley Harris who have been developing bold and ambitious cross-platform work in the North of England since2016. Using combined media - screen, digital, audio and theatre we tell stories that have been previously overlooked and explore hidden voices that have been silenced. Inclusion and Advocacy are at the core of their work, underpinned by a strong artistic vision and a commitment to researching and developing new, exciting ways of working and storytelling.

Amanda Huxtable is a Digital Storyteller, versatile Director and Creative Producer. Through her work she examines collective histories in relation to social sciences and human behaviours which produces a bold and innovative practice. She is a writer on the Screen Yorkshire FLEX talent development programme for agile screen content, and has directed drama across theatres including Leeds Playhouse, Hull truck Theatre and many others

Anita Franklin is a playwright, educator, writer and narrative practitioner interested in creating stories from history and reality. Anita has written and developed plays for theatres and broadcast including Paines Plough, Young Vic and BBC Radio 4. Her latest play ‘I Leave You Love’ – The Story of Mary McLeod Bethune will debut in the UK early in 2002.

Desirée Reynolds started her writing career as a freelance journalist for the Jamaica Gleaner and the Village Voice. She has gone on to write film scripts, poetry, flash fiction and short stories. Her first novel, ****, was published in 2013 to much acclaim by Peepal Tree Press. Her fiction is concerned with working class Black women, internal landscapes and a continuous struggle against the white, male gaze, notions of beauty, race and being.

Website
https://desireereynolds.co.uk/
@desreereynolds


Mary McLeod Bethune was a pioneering American educator and civil rights leader.
Born Mary Jane McLeod on July 10, 1875, in Mayesville, South Carolina. Mary was the daughter of formerly enslaved parents. One of seventeen children, she grew up picking cotton alongside her family.

From an early age, Bethune had a strong desire to learn. She was one of the first youngsters to sign up for a new mission school for Black children, walking several miles a day to and from school.

Mary won scholarships to attend Scotia Seminary and Chicago’s Moody Institute. After graduation, in 1904, she founded a small school for Black girls in Florida that she quickly developed into a thriving college and vocational training program.

In 1923, she merged the school with Cookman College to create the first fully accredited Black Institution of Higher Learning in the state. Organising thousands of women, Mary became a leader in the effort to build coalitions among Black women fighting for equal
rights, better education, and political power. In 1936 she founded a new umbrella organization - The National Council of Negro Women when she moved to Washington. Mary remained an active member of the organization until her death in May 1955.

In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Bethune and she became the director of the National Youth Administration’s Division of Negro Affairs -Making Mary the first Black woman to lead a federal agency.

Died 1955.

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I leave you love: an audio drama on the life and legacy of Mary Macleod Bethune

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