Civil Rights Activist Recounts Freedom Rides
Posted on 02/01/2018
Joan Mulholland and Colgan HS Theatre Students

What student doesn’t get excited about a first-person account of an historic event? Theatre students at Colgan High School had the chance to meet with Joan Mulholland, who described her experiences as a Freedom Rider during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Mulholland visited the school to watch a rehearsal for “Freedom Riders,” an upcoming production by students enrolled in Colgan High School’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts. 

Mulholland, who was jailed for her activism, shared details from a diary she kept while in jail. Students asked questions that would help them with their interpretation of the events and people they are portraying in the play. Mulholland hid the small scraps of contraband paper that constituted her diary in the dress she wore while imprisoned.

“Fear is a waste of energy. It keeps you from knowing what you should be doing,” Mulholland told the students. “We were in it together. We had conviction; we believed in what we were doing.”

Colgan High School theatre students will be performing “Freedom Riders” and an original piece, “The Courageous Four,” for a full evening of theatre on February 15 and February 16 at 7 p.m., and on February 17 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

"The Courageous Four" will bring the history of the integration of the teaching staff in Prince William County Public Schools to life on stage. Fannie W. Fitzgerald, Mary G. Porter, Zella Brown, and Maxine Coleman were the first four African American teachers asked to teach in the all-white elementary schools in the county to begin the desegregation process.

The Creative and Performing Arts Center, better known as CAPAC, has partnered with Colgan High School to produce "Freedom Riders" by special arrangement with Encore Performance Publishing and "The Courageous Four." CAPAC brings extraordinary theatrical productions to the community that emphasize the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of the metropolitan Washington, D.C. region.