Ted Williams III, the playwright and producer of 1619: The Journey of a People says that his goal in bringing this musical to the Evanston community is to “educate, entertain, and inspire” the public. And he does just that. The show uses gripping visuals and music from a variety of genres to take the audience on an immersive journey through the history of African Americans in America. The musical enlightens its viewers on the brutality of slavery, the ongoing fight for reparations, and everything in between.
The musical premiered
on August 24, 2019 – 400 years after the first enslaved Africans were brought to Point Comfort, Virginia, kickstarting the institution of chattel slavery.
On Saturday, June 17, the 3rd Dimension Performance Group will produce a free public performance of 1619: The Journey of a People on Saturday, June 17, at 2:30 p.m. at Ingraham Park, as a part of the City of Evanston’s Juneteenth Day Celebration, and — following a sneak preview at ETHS — it’s not to be missed.
Williams notes that too often in our country people pass the blame onto other groups without understanding the context of the social issues they are grappling with. The musical tries to remedy that problem by taking you on a voyage through time to remind you that history does not stay in the past. From the mass incarceration of African Americans to the deconstruction of the African American family, 1619: The Journey of a People highlights the ways that slavery has shaped so many of the social issues we face today. This is the historical context that Williams deems necessary to begin to tackle our current issues and ultimately have more compassion for one another.
This is not just another heartbreaking retelling of African American history. Williams points out that when it comes to African American history we tend to “focus on the trials but we don’t focus on the triumphs.” While 1619: The Journey of a People educates its audience on the tumultuous history of African Americans it is also a celebration of African American’s’ perseverance and outstanding accomplishments throughout history. Williams incorporates Black culture from past and present, lively music, and a refreshing sense of humor to show his audience that there is beauty in African American history.
Join EPL and the City of Evanston on Saturday, June 17th, at 2:30 p.m., at Ingraham Park to celebrate Juneteenth and experience 1619: The Journey of a People. We’ll be taking a journey through American history as a community while deepening our understanding of the African American experience. No tickets needed — the performance is open to the entire Evanston community, and we hope to see you there.