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Famous Figures from History Come Alive at Montgomery College Chautauqua

Four-day Event, July 8–11, at MC-Germantown Features Actor/Scholars Portraying Rosa Parks, George Wallace, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and George Wallace—all famous figures from America’s civil rights movement—will come alive this summer at Montgomery College’s annual Chautauqua celebration on the College’s Germantown Campus from July 8-11. Actor-scholars will portray the historical figures, who meet this year’s Chautauqua theme of “Civil Rights: Taking a Stand,” at the four-night, family-friendly event.

The Chautauqua program will begin each evening at 7 p.m., underneath a tent on the Germantown Campus, at 20200 Observation Drive, Germantown, Md. In case of rain on any evening, the performance would be moved inside to Globe Hall, located within the campus’s High Technology and Science Center. All performances are free and open to the public.

Each Chautauqua program begins with a short musical performance by a local musician. Next, an actor-scholar will take the stage to portray Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. or George Wallace. The actor-scholars modify their clothing, hair and speech to give audiences the illusion that they are listening to the actual historical figure during their time.

The Montgomery College Chautauqua 2008 program schedule is as follows:

  • Tuesday, July 8, starting at 7 p.m.

Musical performance by songwriter and guitarist Paula Monks

An Evening with Rosa Parks, portrayed by Gwendolyn Briley-Strand

In 1955, Rosa Parks’ refusal to give her bus seat to a white passenger marked the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in America. She remained an inspiration throughout her life and even in death, becoming the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.

  • Wednesday, July 9, starting at 7 p.m.

Musical performance by singer, songwriter and guitarist Andrew McKnight An Evening with Martin Luther King, Jr., portrayed by Bill Grimmette

Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Montgomery Bus Boycott that began a nationwide protest based on nonviolent, direct action and civil disobedience, aimed at ending Jim Crow laws in the South and establishing racial equality. In 1968, he was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn.

  • Thursday, July 10, starting at 7 p.m.

Musical performance by singer and songwriter Ellen Cherry

An Evening with George Wallace, portrayed by Doug Mischler

George Wallace, Jr., who served four terms as Governor of Alabama and ran four times for President of the United States, was one of America’s most outspoken supporters of segregation in the 1960s before changing his views later in life. Shot by a would-be assassin in 1972, he was paralyzed, but went on to serve a final term as governor with support from black leaders.

  • Friday, July 11, starting at 7 p.m.

Spoken word and musical performance by Soul in Motion

An Evening with Malcolm X, portrayed by Charles Everett Pace

Malcolm X served as the charismatic and controversial spokesman for the Nation of Islam, advocating black separatism and nonengagement. He modified his views later in life, and was assassinated in New York City in 1965.

The Chautauqua movement began in the late 1800s as a training program for Sunday school teachers. Taking its name from a lake in upstate New York, the Chautauqua quickly expanded and became known for educating adults in the arts and humanities. At the turn-of-the-century, Chautauqua lecturers and entertainers traveled across the country, bringing their style of education to small towns. When Americans increasingly replaced live entertainment with television and movies, the Chautauqua movement dwindled.

During the 1970s, the Chautauqua concept became a public humanities program. Through these dialogues, scholars take on the persona of a historical figure to educate and entertain audiences of all ages.

Montgomery College is one of seven colleges around the state of Maryland that will host the annual Chautauqua programs this summer. “Civil Rights: Taking a Stand” is sponsored by the Maryland Humanities Council, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “We the People” program and the Maryland Division of Historical and Cultural Programs.

The Montgomery College Chautauqua site is accessible to persons with disabilities. For sign language interpretation services, call 410-685-0095 by June 20.

For more information on the Montgomery College Chautauqua, call 240-567-7746 or visit

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