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Now Let Me Fly --
A Black History Reader's Theater Script

Subjects

  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
    --Literature
  • Social Studies
    --Civics
    --History
    ----U.S. History

Grades

  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12
  • Advanced

Brief Description

Celebrate Black History Month by staging a classroom reading of this play.

Objectives

Students

  • learn about African American history by performing a Reader's Theater script.
  • gain a different perspective about African American history that only the arts/a script such as this can afford.
  • learn about the history of Jim Crow laws and "separate but equal" statutes, the Brown v. Board decision, and other important concepts/events in Black history.

Keywords

Black History Month, African American, play, Reader's Theater, script, Now Let Me Fly, Jim Crow, Brown v. Board, separate but equal, Marcia Cebulska

Materials Needed

  • copies of the Now Let Me Fly Reader's Theater script (link provided below)

Lesson Plan

The Supreme Court's 1958 decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka stands as a landmark decision in the history of the United States. But the decision made in Brown v. Board was not one that came out of the blue. It was the culmination of decades of oppression; countless incidents of people who recognized and courageously stood up to the fact that "separate but equal" statutes were not working; and many years of unsuccessful court challenges. The Brown v. Board decision is brought to life beautifully and powerfully in Marcia Cebulska's play Now Let Me Fly. The Now Let Me Fly script is available online, and you can use it to create a wonderful Reader's Theater experience in your classroom -- during Black History Month or any time of year. The script is available in three versions:

  • Easier Youth Version -- suitable for elementary school audiences, special education classes, classroom readings with young student actors, and those needing an abbreviated version
  • Youth Version -- recommended for middle and high school students
  • Full Version - for community productions (include some powerful language that might be considered sensitive or controversial)

We have been in contact with the author, and the script is still available (2006) free of charge for classroom use.

About the Play
It is 1950 and Thurgood Marshall is exuberant in his enthusiasm to fly in the face of tradition and overthrow the United States Supreme Court doctrine of "Separate But Equal." But when the ghost of his mentor, Charles Houston, visits him, he is stricken with doubt. Houston takes Marshall on a journey, looking in on the lives and losses of the men and women working in the grassroots struggle against segregation. Together they visit places such as Washington D.C.; Farmville, Virginia; Hockessin, Delaware; Somerton, South Carolina; and Topeka, Kansas. They collect the thumbprints of the ordinary people who became activists in all five of the cases that went to the Supreme Court. Together, the thumbprints form a picture of determination, dignity, and success. Now Let Me Fly is the story of the unsung heroes and heroines behind the struggle to end legalized segregation in America.

Read more about the play.
Read an excerpt from the play.
Read reviews of the play.
Learn how to download the play and other teaching resources.

The Script
Now Let Me Fly makes an excellent culminating activity to your students' study of Black history. To access the script, you will need to go to the Information About Now Let Me Fly Scripts page. At that bottom of that page you will find a contact link link that you can use to request the script.

Assessment

You might ask students to reflect in their journals about the experience of reading this play. What did they learn? How did reading the play help them to see our nation's history in a different perspective that they might not otherwise have had?

Lesson Plan Source

A Nation Acts Now Let Me Fly

See more Lesson Plans of the Day in our Lesson Plan of the Day Archive. (There you can search for lessons by subject too.)

For additional Reader's Theater scripts, see Education World's Reader's Theater Script Archive.

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Originally published 02/17/2006
Last updated 1/26/2017