Civil Rights Veterans to Headline Village Square Forum on Civility

Civil Rights, Civil Means: Tallahassee’s Protests at 50 – Why They Still Matter

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — July 6, 2011 — He was only 16, but Henry Steele still remembers the 1960s civil rights protests in Tallahassee like they were yesterday. And Steele will draw upon his memory of those events – and what it was like to be the youngest person sent to jail – at a special forum on Sunday, July 10 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Young Actors Theatre (YAT) on Glenview Drive.

The forum, “Civil Rights, Civil Means: Tallahassee’s Protests at 50; Why They Still Matter,” is sponsored by The Village Square. This public event is part of a unique “double feature” that includes YAT’s 7:30 p.m. production of “Hairspray,” a Broadway musical set in the early 1960s with a racial integration theme.

The Village Square Executive Director Liz Joyner believes there is “more than just a ‘history lesson’ in having Steele and fellow civil rights veteran Laura Dixie tell their stories at the forum.”

“The Tallahassee civil rights protests aren’t just a meaningful moment in our hometown’s history,” Joyner said. “They have everything to do with where we find ourselves as a country today.”

Joyner finds it remarkable that the Tallahassee civil rights protesters not only tackled one of the most difficult problems our city has ever faced, but they did so with the kind of civility that The Village Square wants to encourage in our day.

“This is a great model for how to address conflict in a civil and constructive way,” Joyner said. “We’d be making a mistake to let this anniversary pass without learning from these civil rights leaders.”

Among those joining Steele and Dixie at the forum will be State Representative Alan Williams, who has worked to keep the memory of these protests alive; and LaCrai Mitchell, a recent Godby High School graduate who serves on the local civil rights sidewalk commemoration committee.

“This forum will be a great opportunity for area students to learn about an important part of Tallahassee’s history,” said Bill Mattox, the event’s moderator. “But it will also be a great time for all of us to consider how we can work together to solve thorny problems today.”

The forum is free and open to the public. Young Actors Theatre tickets are sold separately.

For more information about The Village Square forum, call 850-590-6646 or go online to www.tothevillagesquare.org. For tickets to “Hairspray,” which runs from July 8 through July 24, call 850-386-6602 ext. 2 or find more information online at www.youngactorstheatre.com.