2024 SEASON

2024: LIFT EVERY VOICE: 60 YEARS SINCE THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT

The 2024 Chautauqua theme is Lift Every Voice: 60 Years Since the Civil Rights Act. The theme is designed to educate, enlighten, and entertain audiences of all ages, cultures, and socio-economic demographics. All events are free and open to the public.

Our historical figures include five influential figures from the Civil Rights era: Earl Warren, Rosa Parks, Lady Bird Johnson, Thurgood Marshall, and Coretta Scott King. For five days, through daily workshops and evening monologues, our audience will explore the life and times of each character. With extensive research in primary and secondary source documents, journals and diaries, scholars immerse themselves in their characters’ lives to develop a historically accurate portrayal and the knowledge to respond to audience questions.

Vanessa Adams-Harris

ROSA PARKS

Dr. Doug A. Mishler

EARL WARREN

Jim Armstead

THURGOOD MARSHALL

Leslie Goddard

CLAUDIA "LADY BIRD" JOHNSON

Rebecca Jimerson

CORETTA SCOTT KING

OUR EVENTS

Workshops

Performance

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Vanessa Adams-Harris

Workshop:
The Oklahoma Brown Case

12:00pm

Tulsa, OK

Inside Tulsa Historical Society

In the 1950’s a small town in Oklahoma, Bartlesville, is where Miss Ruth W. Brown, librarian was summarily dismissed after 30 years of service because she had circulated subversive materials. What materials did a library hold that would be considered subversive? The Brown case exemplifies the strange period of the Cold War known as the McCarthy era and racial integration in Oklahoma.

Rebecca Jimerson

Workshop:
Music of the Civil Rights Movement

5:30pm

Tulsa, OK

Inside Tulsa Historical Society

This workshop will delve into the music of the Civil Rights Movement drawing inspiration from African American spirituals, gospel hymns, blues, jazz, and folk songs music. The songs of the movement were a powerful source to uplift, strengthen, and spread messages of hope. Handouts to be circulated to workshop attendees.

Elsa Wolff

Performance:
Dr. Doug A. Mishler as Earl Warren

7:00pm

Tulsa, OK

Under the tent

Workshops

Performance

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Leslie Goddard

Workshop:
Rating the First Ladies

12:00pm

Tulsa, OK

Inside Tulsa Historical Society

The role of First Lady comes with no job description, no pay, and no written requirements. Yet America’s presidential spouses have wielded great influence and have always been subject to intense public scrutiny. In this interactive illustrated lecture, historian Leslie Goddard, Ph.D., explores which First Ladies have ranked highest and lowest with historians. Who do you think was best or worst? Why were some so vilified? And what might the future hold for the role of American First Lady?

Dr. Doug A. Mishler

Workshop:
War and a Question of Civil Rights

5:30pm

Tulsa, OK

Inside Tulsa Historical Society

This workshop will explore how a variety of wars from the Revolution to the war on terror have affected the rights of individual Americans.  From Shaping the Bill of Rights in the 18th century, to freedom of speech during WWI, internment in WW2, Cold War hysteria and loyalty oaths, to taking off your shoes to get on a plane we explore the variety of rights issues some major, some rather silly.

Vanessa Adams-Harris

Performance:
Vanessa Adams-Harris as Rosa Parks

7:00pm

Tulsa, OK

Under the tent

Workshops

Performance

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Jim Armstead

Workshop:
The Civil War Amendments

12:00pm

Tulsa, OK

Inside Tulsa Historical Society

The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution individually marked important milestones in American history and collectively served to satisfy the war aims of the Lincoln administration. However, as these new freedoms changed American society in so many varied and unanticipated ways and set the stage for a living constitution that could be molded to answer the expanding legal needs of a complex and rapidly growing society into the 20th and 21st centuries, the general citizenry remained unaware of the historic connections to slavery and a redefinition of our citizenship.

Vanessa Adams-Harris

Workshop:
Unsung Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement

5:30pm

Tulsa, OK

Inside Tulsa Historical Society

From the children here in Oklahoma with Clara Luper in Oklahoma City, a young Claudette Colvin who at 15 refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, to the Citizenship Education Program throughout the south and its rural communities.  Just who, what and where?  

Leslie Goddard

Performance:
Leslie Goddard as Claudia "Lady Bird"Johnson

7:00pm

Tulsa, OK

Under the tent

Workshops

Performance

Friday, June 7, 2024

Rebecca Jimerson

Workshop:
Coretta Scott King and the "Freedom Concerts"

12:00pm

Tulsa, OK

Inside Tulsa Historical Society

This workshop will present the storied history of the Freedom Concerts.

Combining poetry, narration, and music to tell the story of the Civil Rights movement. Concluding with participants staging a Freedom Concert.

Handouts to be circulated to workshop attendees.

Leslie Goddard

Workshop:
The Lady Bird Special

5:30pm

Tulsa, OK

Inside Tulsa Historical Society

In October 1964, the Lady Bird Special train pulled away from Washington D.C. Over the next four days, the nineteen-car train carried First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson on a whistle-stop tour of eight Southern states to garner support for Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential campaign in the face of fierce opposition to his civil rights reforms. In this lecture, we’ll explore the story of the Lady Bird Special and how Lady Bird used the historic trip to appeal to the minds and hearts of her fellow Southerners while confronting the racism that still prevailed in the region, she called home.

Jim Armstead

Performance:
Jim Armstead as Thurgood Marshall

7:00pm

Tulsa, OK

Under the tent

Workshops

Performance

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Dr. Doug A. Mishler

Workshop:
The Supreme Court's Role in American Life

12:00pm

Tulsa, OK

Inside Tulsa Historical Society

We will cover not just the Warren Court but peruse a variety of Supreme Courts from the first of John Marshall up to the Robert’s Court today.  We will explore how the Court has been called upon to decide cases that had an immense effect on American society and culture.  From Judicial Review to Civil Rights, Slavery, Voting Rights, Abortion, free speech, rights of the accused; just about every topic in American life has one time or another (and sometimes many times) has been affected by the high Court’s decision.  Hopefully this will foster a very relevant discussion about the Court’s role in America today and tomorrow.

Jim Armstead

Workshop:
Plessy vis a vis Brown

5:30pm

Tulsa, OK

Inside the Tulsa Historical Society

The Supreme Court responded to the legal challenge against state sanctioned involuntary segregation in 1896 with an attempted social compromise using the tortured language of the separate but equal doctrine to support the status quo. This deliberate misinterpretation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment denied the specific intent of the law to satisfy the overwhelming desire of white supremacists in the southern states to retain the sanctioned Jim Crow system of racial separation in all public spaces. Brown attacked this interpretation of Constitutional law within the confines of public education by the novel use of sociological data demonstrating that in an egalitarian political system order to successfully deny access to a public service or resource, otherwise available, solely based on race served to permanently stigmatize the victim rendering a legal categorization of separate as inherently unequal and hence impermissible under our scheme of constitutional protections.

Rebecca Jimerson

Performance:
Rebecca Jimerson as Coretta Scott King

7:00pm

Tulsa, OK

Under the tent

SCHOLARS & HISTORICAL FIGURES

Vanessa Adams-Harris

Vanessa Adams-Harris is Mvskoke (Creek) American Indian with African/Scots Irish ancestry. She is an artist, filmmaker, playwright, and human rights community activist/peacebuilder.

In award-winning solo shows, she has portrayed Big Mama in Hannibal Johnson’s “Big Mama Speaks – A 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Survivor”; Lady Red in “for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow was enuf’’ by Ntozake Shange; 103-year-old Sadie Delaney in “Having Our Say – The Delaney Sisters’ First 100 Years” by Emily Mann; and Lena May Baker.

She performs programs regularly for schools, civic organizations, and the public on Oklahoma history, race, and reconciliation. Vanessa portrayed Ada Lois Sipuel-Fisher in Lawton Oklahoma’s Soulful Story program.  For the 2015 Oklahoma Chautauqua, she developed the character of Lena Lowery Sawner, a master educator in Dust Bowl-era Chandler, Oklahoma. As the 2019 Enid Chautauqua in the Schools Scholar, she presented “Big Mama Speaks – A 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Survivor” to over 2,500 students and 300 community members. She has been a presenter for Enid-Emerson Middle School’s Multicultural Day for the past three years.

Rosa Parks

Often called the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” Rosa Parks was an ordinary person who did extraordinary things. She encouraged other ordinary citizens to lift their voices and never anticipated receiving a national and global platform from which to speak, but the cause of freedom was of the utmost importance to her.

Dr. Doug A. Mishler

Since 1993 when he accidentally became P. T. Barnum, Doug has toured the country “bringing history to life” with a rogue’s gallery of characters.  Doug has made over 800 presentations of over 30 historical figures including Nikita Khrushchev, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernie Pyle, Pablo Picasso, Henry Ford, Jackson Pollock, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Chuck Yeager, Gene Roddenberry, and Earl Warren.  Yes, you’re correct, Doug hears voices, but only 30 of them are actually historical characters—the others we don’t talk about. 

He is also the founder and managing artistic director of Restless Artists’ Theatre in Reno.  He taught American cultural history for over 23 years.  And no, he does not have a real job!

Earl Warren

Appointed to the Supreme Court by President Eisenhower, Earl Warren had been a moderate Republican, who as governor of California took the lead in Japanese Internment during World War II. As Chief Justice, Warren would lead the court to strike down segregation with the Brown vs School Board, open voting rights in Baker vs Carr & Reynolds vs Sims and uphold criminal rights to counsel and protections in Miranda and Gideon vs Wainwright. He would also lead the court to protect privacy rights in Griswald vs Connecticut and strike down anti-miscegenation laws in Loving vs Virginia. 

Jim Armstead

Jim Armstead is a familiar face in Oklahoma Chautauqua, having performed two of his 34 characters for us: Ralph Bunche and Thaddeus Dunkley.  In between Chautauqua performances he has been a professor of international law and public policy at 19 universities on three continents, served on the Hill as chief of staff to a member of Congress, served as an Army officer and aide to the secretary of the Army, worked for the UN Secretariat, done research at the Rand Corp and practiced law with three federal agencies, prosecuted criminals in Chicago, served as an international election observer for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and negotiated Treaties for the US, UN, and NATO.

Jim is a graduate of the University of Illinois, earned a law degree (1975) from De Paul University, and earned a Ph.D. (1981) in public policy from Pacific Western University.  Jim continues to lecture, publish, and present radio commentary on international affairs and international law.

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall was a civil rights lawyer and a civil rights lawyer his entire professional life. As head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, he acted as legal counsel on some of the most Important cases in American history and helped construct a legal strategy that desegregated American life in the mid-20th Century. His later government service as Solicitor General, US Court of Appeals Judge and eventually Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court marked not only the capstone of his brilliant career but defined the achievements of an era. 

Leslie Goddard

Leslie Goddard, Ph.D., is an award-winning scholar and actress who has been portraying great women in history for more than twenty years. Before launching her full-time business as a historical interpreter and lecturer, she worked for more than a decade at Chicago-area history museums. With a calendar that now includes thousands of lectures and performances, Leslie is known for her engaging programs that blend memorable stories with historical insight. Her roster of characters includes Amelia Earhart, Jackie Kennedy, Julia Child, Lady Bird Johnson, Rachel Carson, Lucille Ball, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Leslie is also the author of three books on Chicago history and appears regularly in the popular press discussing her research on midcentury popular culture and American women’s history. In addition to both a B.A. and an M.A. in theater, Leslie holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. from Northwestern University, as well as an M.A. in museum studies. Her website is www.lesliegoddard.info.

Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson

Lady Bird Johnson was an unlikely but surprisingly influential civil rights activist. Born and raised in the deep South, she understood the seismic changes that southerners felt as their lives were upturned by politicians in distant Washington. Lady Bird hoped to soothe their anger by showing them how the end of segregation and Jim Crow laws would improve their region economically and ease it into the modern world.

Rebecca Jimerson

Rebecca Marks Jimerson is an educator, community engager, cultural storyteller, and performer.  She graduated from the University of Oklahoma (B.A.), and attended Oklahoma State University post-graduation (M.S.).

Rebecca is the former chair of Historic Greenwood Chamber of Commerce Black Wall Street, Tulsa Oklahoma, one of the oldest African American chambers of commerce. Rebecca co-wrote the play “Resurrecting Black Wall Street,” based on the 1921 race massacre; it was premiered at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, February 2019.

Currently, Rebecca is adjunct communications instructor and curriculum developer, Southern Nazarene University, and provides community engagement for the Tulsa County sheriff’s office. She serves on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Commemoration Society, Tulsa Arts Council, Arts Alliance Tulsa, and the Booker T. Washington Foundation for Excellence.

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King was more than her husband’s helpmate. Her activism started before her marriage, then complemented and influenced her husband’s political work, and continued long after his assassination. She did more than protect her husband’s legacy; she expanded it and kept it relevant.