Playwright Gail Parrish Talks about LEAVINGS

Gail Parrish wrote LEAVINGS after discovering records showing some of her African-American ancestors were fathered by white slaveholders. In one of the documents a slaveholder bequeaths Parrish’s third-great grandmother, Maria, to his daughter. The enslaved Maria ends up working in the home of the daughter’s brother-in-law, who impregnates the girl when she is fifteen. “Finding that will and uncovering Maria’s story brought up so many powerful emotions in me,” said Parrish. “Maria was so young, forced to live hundreds of miles from her family, most likely made to work from morning until night in a home where she was unable to defend herself from the advances of the white owner who considered her nothing more than property. And Maria’s story was not unusual.”

LEAVINGS explores how a history of trauma has impacted generations of African-Americans. For many years older Black family members have carried the weight of painful legacies of slavery and Jim Crow within themselves, often unable to speak about events, even to family members. These traumatic but often unacknowledged events have been like ghosts hovering over and impacting generations of Black lives — lives that nevertheless have thrived, blossomed and contributed immeasurably to society, despite the pain. Today, the Black Lives Matter movement is bringing greater awareness to the unresolved racial issues that exist in our country.
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