'Scottsboro Boys' fallout continues

Nayaba Arinde | 4/12/2011, 5:29 p.m.

Thompson defended his "artistic choices," while adding, "The feeling we want people to walk away with is that this is not in anyway trying to be racist. It is the opposite of that."

The AmNews asked if, as a white man, he understood that some people were offended by the concept and the notion that he was not sensitive to the feelings and opinions of a community he's not a part of?

"That's a great conversation about what it is to have a white man writing about the Black experience.

"People can make the choice if they don't like the show, or if they don't want to see the show. The show does not celebrate racism. That's not our intention," Thompson said.

Ah, but there's an old cliche about the road to hell etc...

"If people sat there and don't like it, they are more than entitled not to like it. That's the nature of what art is all about. Artists don't write their own reviews," said Thompson. "Some people like it; others don't like it," said Thompson. "They might not have to see it, but they shouldn't draw the conclusion about what it's about because of what they've heard. The piece is a conversation about race. It is crucial, and we need to have conversations about race in America that are open and honest."

Harlem Hospital volunteer Polk said, "I haven't seen it. It hurts me to think that something like this is being trivialized. A while ago, I heard that 'The Scottsboro Boys' was going to be done as a minstrel show, I said 'Oh, come on! It's gotta to be a joke.' A man at my church said that I must have heard it wrong, that they couldn't possibly do a minstrel show. Then I heard more about it and heard it was on Broadway. How could you find any happiness, any joy in something so tragic?"

"It can't just be me who remembers the demonstrations," said Polk, who still teaches in her uptown neighborhood. "I think there are other people in my age group who feel the same way. If we could just get together. Let's sit down and talk about it because they've lived it like I've lived it. I heard that they have been talking about doing this show for 10 years. Maybe they thought we'd all be dead, and so they could go ahead and do it now."

"When they start writing musicals about the gas chambers or about 9/11 or about Japanese internment camps, then you can do a musical about one of the greatest tragedies in our history," said Freedom Party protestor Omowale Clay. "But you know better. They would never do that. You just assume you can mock us in a minstrel show, in a musical, in blackface. You were wrong. We will not accept this.

"There will be another demonstration outside the Lyceum Theater at 45th Street and Broadway on Sunday, November 21 at 2 p.m. Our dignity is not for sale. We want to shut this production down."