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Black Through the Years
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Street Academy of Albany
Harriet Gibbons High School
"Black Through The Years"

"Black Through The Years" was a student-written play that featured a series of vignettes covering the history of African-American relations. The play featured observations on everything from antebellum plantation life, the perils of the Underground Railroad, segregation and Jim Crow laws, a spirited poetic discussion between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, and more. Click on the 1979 program above to see the original cast from the first performance in May 1979.

The play first premiered in the spring of 1979, permiering at Giffen Elementary School. Over time, "Black Through The Years" would be shown at various other Albany-based locations, including a performance at the Arbor Hill Community Center for Martin Luther King Day in 1981; performances at Cathedral Academy in Albany and SUNY-Potsdam in update NY, just to name a few locations.

"Black Through The Years" was originally based on a series of writing exercises, in which students recreated famous moments in history as staged dramas. Over time, "Black Through The Years" would add more scenes and vignettes, including the role of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, and the role of a white broadcaster calling the second Joe Louis-Max Schmeling boxing match.

the performance also included musical numbers, including spirituals and work songs. One of the highlights of Black Through The Years was LaRodd Graves' riveting performance of the Harry Belafonte song "Sylvie," performed as a farm work song.

below are some photographs from "Black Through The Years."

One of the early scenes in the play, when Massa George works the slaves in the cotton fields.

Dred scott and Frederick Douglass (in background) discuss slavery and abolition.

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