Cover art by Maryann Callery

The Haunting of Jim Crow

Allan Havis

Enter total users


A factual dramatic account of the advancing history of the Brown v. Board of Ed Supreme Court decision in counterpoint with the personal drama of Senator Strom Thurmond's unacknowledged mixed race daughter, Essie Mae Williams Washington.

Production Info

Cast: 8 total (3 female, 5 male)
Full Length Drama (about 85 minutes)
Minimal Set Requirements
Contemporary Costumes

Press Quotes

“Part drama, part documentary, part civics lesson, THE HAUNTING OF JIM CROW will leave you wanting to know much more about its subjects: civil rights pioneer and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the long-lived Dixiecrat icon Sen. Strom Thurmond and the mixed-race daughter Thurmond never publicly acknowledged, Essie Mae Washington-Williams. Playwright Allan Havis has foregrounded these three characters in this ambitious panorama of American racial politics during the 1950s … With President Eisenhower sitting on the fence, attorney Marshall fought to win, then to implement state-by-state, the decision that dismantled, at least for a time, segregation in public schools. Behind the scenes, Thurmond was lobbying justices Hugo Black and Earl Warren to vote the other way, while meeting in his Capitol Hill office with the teenage Essie Mae Washington sweet and heartbreaking in her ladylike gentility, her restraint and unspoken need). Havis frames the whole with a narration by a contemporary Los Angeles teacher, Leza, who was a student of Washington-Williams. Because the secret daughter revealed her identity after Thurmond’s death in 2002, Leza wants desperately to know how Essie Mae was able to maintain her silence for so long. Leza is far fiercer than her teacher ever was. So the play manages to dramatize many current tensions in the continuing and far-from-resolved dynamics of race in the United States … THE HAUNTING OF JIM CROW is one of those town-gown collaborations we see all too rarely in … theater. Because it presents a multifaceted view of history–and shows in clear terms that class divisions, real estate values and the rollback of affirmative action have created a new form of segregation in the public schools–the play has strong educational value.” —Anne Marie Welsh, Union-Tribune (San Diego)

About the Author


  • Allan Havis

    Over three decades, Allan Havis has had his plays produced at theatres across the country and in Europe, including San Diego Rep, Old Globe, Seattle's ACT, Odyssey, Long Wharf, South Coast Rep, American Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, Virginia Stage, WPA, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Trapdoor Theatre, Coral Gable's New Theatre, Interact Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Co. and Rowholt Theater-Verlag (National German Radio). Works commissioned by England's Chichester Festival, Sundance, San Diego Rep, Ted Danson's Anasazi Productions, South Coast Rep, Mixed Blood, CSC Rep, Malashock Dance, Carolina Chamber Chorale, National Foundation for Jewish Culture, San Diego City Opera and University of California, San Diego. Nineteen published full-length plays including his signature drama MOROCCO: Penguin/Mentor, Theatre Communications Group, Smith & Kraus, Applause Books, and Broadway Play Publishing. Harper/Collins published his young adult novel Albert the Astronomer in 1979. His sequel novel Albert Down a Wormhole was published by Goodreads Press in 2019. His book on ninety years of cinema, Cult Films: Taboo & Transgression, was published by University Press of America. In collaboration with composer Anthony Davis, his play LILITH was re-imagined as a chamber opera, premiering at UC San Diego's Conrad Prebys Music Center December 2009. His next collaboration with Mr. Davis was Lear on the 2nd Floor, which premiered as a work-in-process March 2012 at Princeton University, and a full-length piece at UC San Diego's Conrad Prebys Music Center March 2013. Both operas can be viewed online at UCSD TV. His third opera, St. Francis de Los Barrios, was presented in showcase at the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego in 2015. His latest opera project, The Golem of La Jolla, in collaboration with composer Michael Roth, will have a concert presentation October 2019 in La Jolla Playhouse's WoW Festival. Recipient of Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Kennedy Center/American Express, CBS, HBO, National Endowment for the Arts Awards, San Diego Theatre Critics Circle 2003 Outstanding New Play for NUEVO CALIFORNIA (co-author Bernardo Solano) and San Diego's 2008 Patté Best Play award for THE TUTOR. University of Illinois Press published in 2001 his edited volume: American Political Plays. Southern Illinois University Press published in 2010 his second edited volume American Political Plays Post 9/11. In 2019 London's Bloomsbury/Methuen published his third volume American Political Plays in the Age of Terrorism. He was Provost of Thurgood Marshall College/UC San Diego for ten years, has headed the MFA playwriting program at University of California, San Diego and continues to teach in their graduate writing program over thirty years where he serves as Chair of Theatre and Dance. He holds an MFA from Yale Drama School.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 12/30/2005
Pages 80
ISBN 9780881452785

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally produced on radio by KPBS, San Diego

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
The Haunting of Jim Crow is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC