by Jarquita Brown
What started out as a peaceful protest on March 7, 1965 in Selma, Alabama, turned into a “Bloody Sunday” when a white County Sheriff called for all white men in the county to attack African American protesters that left many injured and hospitalized.
This gruesome event was televised for the country to see. In 2016, Mississippi native and writer Jana P. Haynes traveled to Selma where the unforgettable events of that day transpired, and feeling inspired and motivated while in Selma, that is when Haynes decided to tell the story of Bloody Sunday and the events that led to it in her Broadway musical, Selma: The Untold Stories.
Selma: The Untold Stories has been seen on “Good Morning America,” “Today Show,” “The Royal Caribbean,” and most recently in Clarksdale, Mississippi at Higher Purpose HQ.
Higher Purpose Co partnered with Infecting Change Television, Inc., owned by Haynes to bring the production to the Mississippi Delta. The production was drive-in movie style and over 40 cars from Clarksdale and surrounding areas filled the parking lot of Higher Purpose HQ to watch the production.
Haynes said in an interview that she was excited about her partnership with Higher Purpose and bringing the production to Clarksdale. Although June 27th’s production wasn’t the full version, it was just enough to get the crowd excited about the full version that is also set to take place in Clarksdale soon.
Selma: The Untold Stories is told through the lens of a fictional family, but set against the actual events of that Bloody Sunday.
“I think this story is still very paramount, I think it is still necessary,” said Haynes. “There is still a fight for voting rights. There is still a fight for poverty. Racism is very much alive and well, and we try to tell that through the eyes of a family in 1965.”
The cast is Melissa Davidson plays the role of Connie, Quintin Alexander plays the lead role of Joe, Lakken Johnikin plays Aunt Rose, Olivia Turner plays Hannah, Chantel Cece Miller, and Marcus Blake plays lead as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. All actors are Mississippi residents.
Bloody Sunday happened during the Selma to Montgomery March. Over 500 protesters were met at Edmund Pettus Bridge by state troopers. People were beaten with nightsticks and doused with tear gas. The Selma to Montgomery March was also a catalyst for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which is also told through play.
The Broadway musical has been showcased since 2017, and Haynes has no plans of stopping the musical anytime soon.
To learn more about Selma the Musical, visit the Infecting Change Television website.