I was alive during the dying days of racial segregation in Alabama -- the legal, officially-sanctioned days, anyway. But being born on the white side of the line I can only imagine what it was like grow up on the other side. This play is an attempt to role-play that situation for a few minutes, to convey some tiny slice of what such a life must have been like around here.

In the end, it's sort of about Rosa Parks but doesn't have to be. Her experience was, of course, not unique to her. At least not until the day she said "I'm sitting here because I'm tired."

The show was enormously well-received in its first award-winning production, part of Hunstville, Alabama's annual Panoply Arts Festival.

 

BLACK WOMAN
I'm not setting down to eat. I just want to get in out of the rain.

WHITE BOY
Well ... just don't get any ideas about setting down. We've had to get tough about this. Some of you people have been taking advantage of our tolerance.

BLACK WOMAN
Some of us people?

WHITE BOY
You know what I mean. Black boys from the street coming in here during the lunch hour, taking seats away from hard-working businessmen. Men who've only got an hour to get some lunch so they can go back to work!

BLACK WOMAN
I imagine some of those boys work very hard and get pretty hungry too.

WHITE BOY
There's black restaurants for them. Plenty of them.

BLACK WOMAN
So crowded you can't move in them.

WHITE BOY
I ain't arguing with you. Now, if you're dried off, you oughta ... you know ... get on out of here.

BLACK WOMAN
It's still raining out there.

WHITE BOY
Slacking off some. Not as bad as it was.

BLACK WOMAN
Can't I just get a cup of coffee?

WHITE BOY
I told you, it's --

BLACK WOMAN
-- a whites-only lunch counter. I know. But there's nobody here but you and me.

WHITE BOY
That don't change the rules. We got keep these seats open for white folks.

BLACK WOMAN
Then I won't sit down. I will stand here and drink a cup of hot coffee if you're willing to take my perfectly good money for it.

WHITE BOY
Can't do it. My boss would fire me so fast you wouldn't believe it.

BLACK WOMAN
Is he here?

WHITE BOY
He could come back. And anyway, that ain't the point. It's the principle of the thing. This is for whites only. You shouldn't even be in here.

BLACK WOMAN
Even though it's raining. Even though I'm cold. Even though there is nobody in here but you and me.

WHITE BOY
That's right. A principle is a principle. That's what my mom and dad taught me. And I'm sticking by it. That's what good Christian men do.

BLACK WOMAN
This is what good Christian men do.

WHITE BOY
Yeah, so -- look, the rain's stopped. So, why don't you -- just -- you know --

BLACK WOMAN
I'm going. I'm sorry to have troubled you.

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