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For All the World to Hear brings the Civil Rights Movement to our ears.

In the 1950’s, Woodrow “Woody” B. Grant, Jr. sat in his Virginia Union University classroom mesmerized by the guest speaker. The magnetic young minister tapped into the deep longings of the African-American college students in the audience, showing how passive resistance could be used to change their plight. The young leader who spoke that day was, of course, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and hearing him changed Grant’s life.

Following the speech, Grant immediately became a “foot soldier” for freedom and dedicated his life to fighting for civil rights. He was joined in that work by his wife, Janice Grant, a strong force in her own right as a civil rights activist and leader. The Grants are among ten individuals sharing their stories through For All the World to Hear: Stories from the Struggle for Civil Rights, an oral-history performance project led by UMBC’s Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (CADVC). The group of storytellers met every week in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park, from September through December, to develop performances that capture their experiences growing up during a time of Jim Crow Laws and recreate their participation in the civil rights movement.

For All the World the Hear debuted at UMBC in November and returns to campus for a performance on Friday, February 15, as part of a tour throughout the Baltimore area. The storytellers bring to life the personal sacrifices, risks and humiliations endured at that time – realities that escape many young people and adults, today. Most of us don’t know what it’s like to not be able to eat at any restaurant we choose. We can all swim or play tennis in public parks and drink from any water fountain.

For All the World to Hear brings to life a different, but not distant, time – and it asks how far we’ve actually come. Organized by Sandra Abbott, curator of collections and outreach for the CADVC, in collaboration with oral historian, dramaturg and director of the performance, Harriet Lynn, For All the World to Hear is an outreach project inspired by the exhibition For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, on display in the CADVC’s gallery through March 10, 2013.

In addition to live performances, the project will include digital stories available through foralltheworldtohear.org, stories.umbc.edu and iTunesU. The entire project will culminate in a documentary film produced by Abbott with the help of UMBC students who have also participated as facilitators throughout the project.

See For All the World to Hear: Stories From the Struggle for Civil Rights Friday, February 15, at 10:30 a.m. in the Fine Arts Recital Hall. Admission to this event is free and open to the public. For information on other performances, please visit foralltheworldtohear.org.

This project was made possible by a grant from the Maryland Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Maryland Humanities Council.

(2/12/13)