Reading of THE INVADERS Comes to Queens College in June

The reading is on Tuesday, June 18, at 7 pm.

By: May. 09, 2024
Reading of THE INVADERS Comes to Queens College in June
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

On Tuesday, June 18, at 7 pm, Queens College will premiere a designed reading of “The Invaders,” a play about the Freedom Summer Project of 1964—a voter registration effort in segregated Mississippi that drew Black and white volunteers from all over the country—and the Ku Klux Klan’s murder of participating activists James Chaney, then-QC student Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Their deaths spurred an awakening of public opinion in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The reading—which takes place in the college’s Goldstein Theatre and features eight alumni among the 16 cast members—coincides with the 60th anniversary of Freedom Summer and will be held just days before the anniversary of the murders on June 21, 1964.

At the college’s 100th commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 30, siblings of the martyred activists will receive the Queens College President’s Medal, the institution’s highest administrative honor. David Goodman, a younger brother of Andrew, has been a key leader of the Andrew Goodman Foundation in its decades-long work of registering voters, challenging voter suppression, and training young people as future leaders. Stephen Schwerner—a psychologist, educator, dean, and radio host—was working as a counselor at Queens College when his younger brother Michael was killed; an activist then, he has remained an outspoken defender of social justice all his life. Julia Chaney-Moss, the younger sister of James Chaney, is a minister with many years’ experience in social services and organizing; she is a nationally respected voice for racial and gender justice, and is especially talented in reaching young people.

“For us at Queens College, Freedom Summer has a hallowed place in our memory and history,” says Queens College President Frank H. Wu. “Many of our students worked for civil rights, including by joining efforts to register African American voters—in Mississippi and elsewhere—and they experienced the hostility of segregationists firsthand. Andy Goodman was one of them; he was killed far from home when he was still a very young man, and the trauma and sense of loss are still with us. We see a daily reminder of his, James Chaney’s, and Michael Schwerner’s sacrifice in the Chaney-Schwerner-Goodman Clock Tower that rises above campus.”

The play is being produced by the Andrew Goodman Foundation. It was written by theatre veteran Ralph Carhart, a senior college laboratory technician who has also served as an adjunct lecturer at the college, and directed by Reneé Flemings. Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney-Moss will be highlighted as special guests at a VIP reception before the show at 6 pm in the atrium of the Aaron Copland School of Music. The performance will be followed by a talkback, when the guests will be interviewed by Carhart.

The play opens with Andrew Goodman volunteering to go South. “As a member of the Queens College community, I was very inspired by Andy’s story and his role as one of our shining lights,” says Carhart, an accomplished director as well as the production manager for the college’s Drama, Theatre, and Dance Department since 2007. In the play, Goodman gives the audience entry to the larger world of the civil rights movement, which includes such legendary figures as Bob Moses, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Stokely Carmichael.

Carhart agrees that voting rights and obligations are at the heart of the play. “It’s an election year,” he says. “For the most part, unless you jump into politics yourself, that’s the one control we have over our government: whom we vote for. That’s why it’s important that it comes out now. I’m hoping that one of the takeaways for someone sitting in the audience is that they need to vote; it’s absolutely necessary.”  In developing this play, Carhart consulted with the families as well as Queens College alumni veterans of the civil rights movement. In addition, Flemings, an African American writer and director, is skilled at bringing unheard voices to the stage, especially through her work with the Queens-based Houses on the Moon Theater Company.

Throughout this year, Queens College is observing the anniversary of the murders in numerous ways. It is continuing its ongoing work of preserving written, photographic, oral, and material records of its students’ activism in its Civil Rights Archives, part of the Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library Special Collections. The materials have been largely donated by alumni and their families. In addition, the college is producing a video docuseries titled Legacy Connection: QC & Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; the newest episode concerns Heroes in Harm’s Way: Dr. King and Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner.

Tickets for “The Invaders” are available through Ticketmaster at $45 for the general public and $20 for Queens College students, faculty, and staff. Please click HERE to order. There is a $30 additional charge to attend the VIP reception. The entrance to Goldstein Theatre—located on the Queens College campus—may be accessed at 153-49 Reeves Avenue in Flushing.


To post a comment, you must register and login.