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enslaved persons

Nance Williamson, left, and Britney Simpson in “The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington” at Hudson Valley Shakespeare
Sarah Krulwich / The New York Times

This summer, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival is presenting a production of “The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington” by James Ijames. The show will run under the tent at Boscobel in Garrison, New York through July 30.

In the play, a recently widowed Martha Washington lies helpless in her Mount Vernon bed, ravaged by illness and cared for by the very slaves that will be free the moment she dies. As she begins to slip away, she falls deep into a fever dream of terrifying theatricality that investigates everything from her family to her historical legacy.

“The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington” is directed at HVShakes by Taylor Reynolds.

Reynolds is a New York-based director and theatremaker from Chicago and one of the Producing Artistic Leaders of OBIE-award winning The Movement Theatre Company in Harlem and she joins.

Book cover for "No Common Ground"
The University of North Carolina Press

When it comes to Confederate monuments, there is no common ground. Polarizing debates over their meaning have intensified into legislative maneuvering to preserve the statues, legal battles to remove them, and rowdy crowds taking matters into their own hands. These conflicts have raged for well over a century--but they've never been as intense as they are today.

In "No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice," Karen L. Cox depicts what these statues meant to those who erected them and how a movement arose to force a reckoning. 

The new book "400 Souls" is a unique one volume community history of African Americans. The editors Ibram X. Kendi and Keyshia Blaine have assembled 90 brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five year period of that 400 year span.

The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives. Through the eyes of towering historical icons are the untold stories of ordinary people through places laws and objects.

Book cover for "The Prophets" By Robert Jones Jr.
Putnam

Robert Jones, Jr., creator of the Son of Baldwin online community, has written a debut novel, "The Prophets," about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.