The actor Danny Glover will appear in a May 4 performance of “Roots of Liberty: The Haitian Revolution and the American Civil War’’ at Tremont Temple Baptist Church, part of a three-day series of events related to the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War.
The “Lethal Weapon’’ and “Color Purple’’ star is slated to be joined in “Roots of Liberty’’ by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat. Presented by Underground Railway Theater and directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian, “Roots of Liberty’’ will feature music, dance, and puppetry. Admission is free.
“Roots of Liberty’’ tells the story of Cecile, a Haitian-American high school student who is assigned to write a paper on someone who helped pave the way to the Emancipation Proclamation. When she chooses Toussaint Louverture, the leader of the Haitian Revolution and an inspiration for the antislavery movement in the United States, Cecile’s teacher informs her she cannot write about him because he is “not in the textbook.’’
She sets out to prove Louverture’s significance and impact on US history. In what is described as “a kind of waking dream,’’ Cecile journeys through the history and culture of both nations, encountering along the way Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Union soldiers, and eventually Louverture himself.
Glover will play either Louverture or Douglass in the pageant, Underground Railway said, while Gates and Danticat will provide commentary and historical insight.
The script is by Natalia Naman, based on research by Phil Berman, with contributions from Danticat and members of the youth literacy program Books of Hope. The music is by Kera Washington and the choreography is by Jean Appolon. The puppetry will be devised by Brad Shur, Will Cabell, and Steve Lewontin.
“Roots of Liberty’’ is part of Freedom Rising: The 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and African American Military Service in the Civil War, a May 2-4 series. Consisting primarily of lectures and symposia, it’s organized by groups including Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and the Boston African American National Historic Site. Reservations are not required but will be accepted through April 26 for all Freedom Rising events. More information is available at www.freedomrising2013.com.