American Prophet is a new musical by
Marcus Hummon & Charles Randolph-Wright
In His Own Words
What does freedom look like?
Frederick Douglass could only imagine what living as a free man might look and feel like when he lived as a slave through some of America’s darkest years.
What might freedom look like when you leave no one behind?
An even deeper question that he posed as he challenged the country’s moral compass about this basic human right while in the throws of the “most peculiar institution” of slavery.
With an original book that weaves some of Douglass’ most poignant messages, hopes, and themes—and a soaring score by Grammy Award-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon—American Prophet explores Douglass' rise from slavery to national prominence—from forced illiteracy to the heights of literary and oratorical renown. Set in the early 1850’s through the end of the Civil War and death of President Abraham Lincoln, we follow Douglass as he goes through a philosophical transformation.
American Prophet is the story of Douglass' relationship with three prophetic characters: the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, the extremist John Brown, and President Abraham Lincoln. The story explores how Douglass embraced and rejected aspects of each of these towering figures and emerged as a unique prophetic figure who helped defeat the South, end slavery, and fulminate for full equality for African Americans. America Prophet also tells the story of Douglass’ relationship with his wife, Anna Murray, a heroic but largely ignored figure, at times even demeaned by historians.
Frederick Douglass’s legacy as a social reformer reminds us all of our inherent dignity and our duty to uphold the inalienable rights of all members of the human family. I am humbled that Marcus Hummon and Charles Randolph-Wright found inspiration in the life story of my great ancestor.
On behalf of the Douglass family, I thank them and the American Prophet team for animating his life and that of my great-great-great-grandmother, Anna Murray Douglass. I pray that the spirit of Frederick and Anna will live intensely in the hearts and minds of everyone who has an opportunity to attend this powerful Arena Stage production.
– KENNETH MORRIS
Descendant of Frederick Douglass & Booker T. Washington
Commissioned by Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, Tennessee.
Played in various Tennessee venues including the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis as well as Marble Collegiate Church in New York City.
29-hour staged reading at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, Tennessee under the direction of Charles Randolph-Wright.
29-hour staged reading at Ripley-Grier Studios in New York City starring Brandon Victor Dixon, and directed by Charles Randolph-Wright.
Special presentations at the Apollo in New York City starring Cornelius Smith, Jr., and directed by Charles Randolph-Wright.