Remembering Alice Childress and Loving vs. Virginia

Through the duration of Penumbra’s production of Alice Childress’ Wedding Band, Libraries and bookstores throughout the TCs will work with Penumbra Theatre to honor the work of Childress, and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Loving V Virginia. In 2017 we understand that much of Childress’ authentic depictions of African American life and interracial love were deemed too controversial to publish in the 1960s; we also understand that the 50th year anniversary of Loving v. Virginia offers both a moment of celebration and reflection. As race takes center stage in America, Childress’ writing offers critical perspective. 

Penumbra Theatre's production of The Wedding Band runs through November 12th. Get $5 off tickets with code WDRS here.

Alice Childress

Alice Childress (1916-1994) was born in Charleston, South Carolina and moved to Harlem when she was a young child. She began her career as an actress but soon turned to playwrighting. Her works include Trouble in Mind, Gold Through the Trees, Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White, and the young adult novel A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich.

The Wedding Band

By Alice Childress
Directed by Lou Bellamy

In a small South Carolina town by the sea, Julia keeps to herself. Her love, Herman, arrives after dark with a wedding cake—a symbol of their decade long commitment and secret vows to one another. Unable to legally marry, these star-crossed lovers—one black, one white—live in constant fear of arrest or worse. The rules that govern society don’t govern the heart, and Julia and Herman risk safety and security for love. Will the price be more than they can bear? Written in 1962, this passionate classic stirs the heart and proves searingly relevant as race takes center stage in American politics.

Support provided by Cedarwoods Foundation, Jim Gerlich and Patricia Punykova


Tuesday, 17 October 2017 - 7:30pm to Sunday, 12 November 2017 - 2:00pm
A Hero Ain't Nothin But a Sandwich Cover Image
ISBN: 9780698118546
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Puffin Books - February 1st, 2000

Benjie can stop using heroin anytime he wants to. He just doesn't want to yet. Why would he want to give up something that makes him feel so good, so relaxed, so tuned-out? As Benjie sees it, there's nothing much to tune in for. School is a waste of time, and home life isn't much better. All Benjie wants is for someone to believe in him, for someone to believe that he's more than a thirteen-year-old junkie. Told from the perspectives of the people in his life-including his mother, stepfather, teachers, drug dealer, and best friend-this powerful story will draw you into Benjie's troubled world and force you to confront the uncertainty of his future.

Like One of the Family Cover Image
By Alice Childress, Roxane Gay (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780807050743
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Beacon Press - January 24th, 2017

A new edition of Alice Childress's classic novel about African American domestic workers, featuring a foreword by Roxane Gay


First published in Paul Robeson's newspaper, Freedom, and composed of a series of conversations between Mildred, a black domestic, and her friend Marge, Like One of the Family is a wry, incisive portrait of working women in Harlem in the 1950's. Rippling with satire and humor, Mildred's outspoken accounts vividly capture her white employers' complacency and condescension--and their startled reactions to a maid who speaks her mind and refuses to exchange dignity for pay.


Upon publication the book sparked a critique of working conditions, laying the groundwork for the contemporary domestic worker movement. Although she was critically praised, Childress's uncompromising politics and unflinching depictions of racism, classism, and sexism relegated her to the fringe of American literature. Like One of the Family has been long overlooked, but this new edition, featuring a foreword by best-selling author Roxane Gay, will introduce Childress to a new generation.

A Short Walk (Classic Feminist Writers) Cover Image
By Alice Childress, La Vinia Jennings (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781558615328
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Feminist Press - December 1st, 2006

A Short Walk is a sweeping epic novel, which captures the movement of black Americans from the rural south to the urban north.


Cora James, born to a black woman who has had a love affair with a white man, grows up poor in South Carolina, marries an abusive--albeit, wealthy--preacher, and escapes from him by going north to Harlem. There she earns money dealing cards and performing in a number of traveling vaudeville shows. She survives the Great Depression, and experiences life as a wife, mother, lover, actress, and independent businesswoman. Torn between befriending Filipino and white neighbors, and the view of the Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey movement, Cora survives divisive politics and learns that since "Life is just a short walk from the cradle to the grave... it sure behooves us to be kind to one another along the way.

Selected Plays Cover Image
ISBN: 9780810127517
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Northwestern University Press - April 19th, 2011

As the first African American woman to have a play professionally produced in New York City (Gold Through the Trees, in 1952) and the first woman to win an Obie for Best Play (for Trouble in Mind, in 1956), Alice Childress occupies an important but surprisingly under-recognized place in American drama. She herself rejected an emphasis on the pioneering aspects of her career, saying that it's almost like it's an honor rather than a disgrace and that she should be the fiftieth and the thousandth by this point a remark that suggests the complexity and singularity of vision to be found in her plays. Childress worked as an actress before turning to playwriting in 1949, and she was a political activist all of her life.
Spanning the 1940s to the 1960s, the plays collected here are the ones Childress herself believed were her best, and offer a realistic portrait of the racial inequalities and social injustices that characterized these decades. Her plays often feature strong-willed female protagonists whose problems bring into harsh relief the restrictions faced by African American women. This is the first volume devoted exclusively to the work of a major playwright whose impact on the American theater was profound and lasting.

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case Cover Image
ISBN: 9781452125909
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - January 31st, 2017

From acclaimed author Patricia Hruby Powell comes the story of a landmark civil rights case, told in spare and gorgeous verse. In 1955, in Caroline County, Virginia, amidst segregation and prejudice, injustice and cruelty, two teenagers fell in love. Their life together broke the law, but their determination would change it. Richard and Mildred Loving were at the heart of a Supreme Court case that legalized marriage between races, and a story of the devoted couple who faced discrimination, fought it, and won.

Event Address: 
270 N Kent St
St Paul, MN 55102
United States