Down in Mississippi
Artist: Carlyle Brown
Date of Action: September 2022
Region: North America
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Medium: Theatre "Theatre" is not in the list (Commercial Advertising, Dance, Design, Installation, Journalism, Literature, Mixed Media, Music, Online, Painting, ...) of allowed values for the "Has medium" property.
Confronting Bodies: Texas Wesleyan University
Description of Artwork: "Down in Mississippi," taking place in 1964, begins with a white character calling a Black man a racial slur 13 times and threatens him in reaction to the Black character helping register other Black people to vote. The university had cautioned potential audience members that they should expect to hear vulgar and offensive language.
The Incident: Texas Wesleyan's Black Student Association spoke against the play calling it harmful to Black students and having a marginalizing effect throughout the school. They cited the repetition of racial slurs as disturbing and unnecessary.
Results of Incident: The play was cancelled following the protests of students. The decision was made in collaboration with school and theater officials, the "Down in Mississippi" playwright Carlyle Brown, and students. The playwright explained that the use of the word was meant to be historically accurate and provocative. University board chairman Glenn O. Lewis reasoned that the play takes audience members out of their comfort zone in contemplating roots of racism and that censorship of Brown's play is not a valid solution.