Blood Done Sign My Name, a production based on the critically-acclaimed memoir by Tim Tyson, an African-American Studies professor and senior scholar at Duke University, explores the complex subject of racial division and violence in America during the 1970s. Presented in partnership with the Center for Diversity Education, UNCA Department of Education, the Office of Teacher Recruitment and Western N.C. Network for Access and Success, the upcoming performance will be staged at Diana Wortham Theatre on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 8 p.m.
Blood Done Sign My Name tells a heartbreaking and true story. In 1970 in Oxford, North Carolina, Henry “Dickie” Marrow, a 23-year-old black man and Army veteran, was chased down and killed by three white men. Before multiple witnesses, Marrow was brutally beaten and shot in the head. In the trail that followed, and despite the many eyewitness accounts that were reported, all three of the men involved in Marrow’s murder were found innocent and were acquitted by an all-white jury. After the verdict was announced, as the press release summarizes, “the town’s black community responded to the events with an uprising that destroyed downtown businesses and several tobacco warehouses, holding at least a million dollars in harvested crops.” Tyson, the son of the town’s Reverend, was 10 years old when Marrow was killed, an event that profoundly affected him. In the counties and regions surrounding Oxford, Marrow’s murder, and unjust trial, prompted the black community to stand up and take action against such racist acts, sparking marches and demonstrations that became pivotal events in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
In addition to the performance itself, Tyson will lead a pre-show discussion, providing context for the dramatic staging of Blood Done Sign My Name, which will be held at 7 p.m. in the Forum at Pack Place. After the performance, actor and playwright Mike Wiley will discuss his experience as an educator deeply invested in this production.
There is an interesting local connection to the 1970 murder in Oxford: In the afternoon on Thursday, Oct. 21, James Ferguson, an Asheville native and a founding member of Asheville’s ASCORE (Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality), will talk about his experience as a lawyer who helped to prosecute one of Marrow’s killers. Together, Ferguson and Tyson will “reflect on the contemporary impact of events from Blood Done Signed My Name.” The Brown Bag Lunch and Learn will be held at on the campus of UNCA, at the Highsmith Student Union, Alumni Hall, from 12:15 to 1:20 p.m.
Blood Done Sign My Name promises to be an emotionally powerful performance (recommended for adult audiences only), offering a unique opportunity to discuss and reflect upon the complex history of racism in America.
Here is a short clip from Mike Wiley’s performance in Blood Done Sign My Name (video by Minnow Media):
For more information on the Brown Bag Lunch and Learn with James Ferguson, call 232-5024 or visit www.unca.edu.
Also, catch a free screening of Blood Done Sign My Name on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m. at UNCA’s Highsmith University Union. Info: 232-5024 or diversityed.org.
Blood Done Sign My Name will be performed on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 8 p.m., at Diana Wortham Theatre. Tim Tyson’s address will be held at 7 p.m. in the Forum at Pack Place and a discussion with Mike Wiley will be held after the production. Tickets are $30/$28 for students and seniors/$25 for students/$10 day-of-student-rush tickets. Info: 257-4530 or www.dwtheatre.com.