In this May 2, 2002, file photo, Phylicia Rashad, left, and Keshia Knight Pulliam from the “Cosby Show” arrive at NBC’s 75th anniversary celebration at New York’s Rockefeller Center. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg, File)
by Stacey Anderson
WASHINGTON (AP) — Phylicia Rashad is best known for starring roles on stage and television, but as a director she’ll commemorate a historic moment that helped spur the civil rights movement.
The Tony Award-winning actress is directing a reading of the play “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963” at the Kennedy Center Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of the bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. Four girls were killed in the explosion, which was set by White supremacists and helped spur passage of landmark civil rights legislation.
Rashad, who is recognized for her portrayal as the matriarch on “The Cosby Show” TV series and Broadway’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” said she wants the reading to emphasize the “sanctity of joy, human existence and the value of all life.”
The play is written by Christina Ham and stars students from Howard University and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C.
Rashad, an alumna of Howard University, said acting and directing are both challenging and rewarding. In her role as director, Rashad said she works to keep the creative energy in line with the writer’s vision, “while leaving room for people to add to the vision in a collaborative effort.”