Date night, with dinner and a show, at Cyrano’s and the Rep. The evening’s entertainment was a play called Alabama Story. Set in 1950s Montgomery, it is in part based upon historical events. A children’s book, The Rabbits’ Wedding, caught the eye and ire of segregationists, because it told the story of two rabbits, a black male rabbit and a white female rabbit who fell in love with each other and married. Racists claimed that the book promoted miscegenation.
The historical half of this story centers on the conflict between Alabama’s head librarian, Emily Wheelock Reed and state representative E. O. Eddins. Eddins claimed that Reed “put stock in racial incorporation” and demanded that “This book and many others should be taken off the shelves and burned.” As a result, the library system banned the book from all libraries in Alabama. Reed, enjoyed the book, but complied to the extent that she moved it from general circulation and put it on reserve, available upon request. This made the book still accessible and thus was not a complete ban of the book. She explained, “We have had difficulty with the book, but we have not lost our integrity.” Before the year was over Eddins again found fault with Reed, who had distributed a reading list that included various controversial titles including a Martin Luther King, Jr. book.
Parallel to these historical events and mirroring the underlying children’s book, the play also tells the story of two fictional characters, a black man and a white woman. Their conversations, in chance encounters on Montgomery’s streets, recounts their shared childhood history. Playmates, while their mothers worked together in the kitchen of “the big house”, their friendship ended one day, when she innocently kissed her friend. He and his family were forced to move away. They meet again in Montgomery, because she is in town to care for her dying father, while he is in town as a civil rights worker. Through their conversations, their childhood friendship is rekindled.