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Synopsis and Characters

Two people stand on either side of a third person. They are taunting the person in the middle and making faces.
Photo of Dee Dee Batteast, Anthony Irons, Melanie Brezill, and Kelvin Roston Jr. by Michael Brosilow.

Study up on the real figures depicted in Stokely: The Unfinished Revolution with a synopsis and character list.


A man addresses the camera in the foreground, a crowd in the background looks on.
Photo of Stokely Carmichael from the Caribbean Memory Project.

Stokely: The Unfinished Revolution is a non-linear memory play exploring the people, relationships, and experiences that built civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael, the man later known as Kwame Ture. The “present day” of the play is 1998, two years after he receives a cancer diagnosis and the same year he will die. His mother – May Charles – has come to visit, and he implores her to help him record his memories to establish an institute to commemorate the fight for racial equality. The two butt heads as Stokely works his way through a collection of memories. 

The following moments are interspersed throughout the play: 

  • In Port of Spain, Trinidad, the young Stokely Carmichael has an asthma attack and is helped through it by his grandmother Cecilia. He discusses race and voting rights with his Tante Elaine and dreams of being Superman. 
  • Adolescent Stokely endures his first day of school in the United States, and his introduction to the Italian neighborhood in the Bronx. His father shows him the face of Emmett Till, a young who was murdered in a racially-motivated hate crime; both boys are 14. He meets organizers Bayard Rustin and Malcolm X.  
  • Against his parents’ wishes, Stokely attends Howard University. He joins the lunch counter sit-ins, is imprisoned at Parchman Farm, and joins the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He meets icons James Baldwin, Ella Baker, Diane Nash, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Gloria Richardson. His father dies of a heart attack. 
  • Stokely gets into hot water over a sexist comment. He campaigns for the Black Panther Party. His dear friend Sammy Younge is murdered, and Dr. Martin Luther King takes umbrage with the slogan “Black Power.” 
  • Stokely resigns as chair of SNCC and becomes chair of the Black Panther Party. He meets and marries Miriam Makeba – a South African singer – but her career is destroyed by her affiliation with Stokely. He moves to Guinea and changes his name to Kwame Ture. 

Character List

  • Stokely Carmichael, later Kwame Ture: A Trinidadian-born civil rights and Pan-Africanism leader at the forefront of the Black Power movement and Black Panther Party in the United States (played by Anthony Irons)
  • Mabel Charles, later May Charles: Stokely’s mother (played by Wandachristine)
  • Cecilia Carmichael/Ensemble: Stokely’s beloved paternal grandmother (played by Dee Dee Batteast)
  • Tante Elaine/Ensemble: Stokely’s stern and seemingly humorless aunt; Adolphus’s sister (played by Melanie Brezill)
  • Adolphus Carmichael/Ensemble: Stokely’s father (played by Kelvin Roston Jr.)

Learn about the other historical figures who appear throughout Stokely: The Unfinished Revolution, pictured below. These people informed Stokely Carmichael’s life and activism.

  • Bayard Rustin: An openly gay activist and leader in the civil rights movement; architect of the March on Washington in 1963
  • James “Jimmy” Baldwin: A queer writer and civil rights activist famed for his essays and novels
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Advocate for, and figurehead of, nonviolent resistance during the civil rights movement; Christian pastor who was assassinated in 1968
  • Malcolm X: A prominent figure in the civil rights movement; a Muslim minister, spokesperson for the Nation of Islam, and advocate for human rights who was assassinated in 1965
  • Fannie Lou Hamer: A civil and voting rights activist and community organizer 
  • Miriam Makeba: Known as Mama Africa; South African singer and activist; married to Stokely Carmichael from 1968-1973 when they separated
  • John Moody: A freedom rider and member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
  • Diane Nash: Co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; architect of multiple civil rights and integration efforts such as lunch counter sit-ins and voting rights movements
  • Ella Baker: A prominent organizer and activist in the civil rights movement; mentored many leaders in SNCC
  • Gloria Richardson: A civil rights leader who led the Cambridge movement, which led to the desegregation of hospitals, schools, and public recreation areas
  • Douglas “Jocko” Henderson: An American radio disc jockey, businessman, and hip hop music pioneer
  • Gene Dennis: A member of the Communist Party in the U.S. and son of its leader (not pictured)
A photo of Bayard Rustin shows a man with graying hair, a mustache, black glasses, and a suit, looking gravely ahead.
Bayard Rustin

Photo by Warren K. Leffler, courtesy of U.S. News & World Report, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
James Baldwin, holding a cigarette, sits in front of a typewriter looking intently ahead.
James “Jimmy” Baldwin

Photo courtesy of Yale University Humanities program.
Dr. King speaks emphatically before a crowd, arm outstretched for emphasis.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photo courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica.
Malcolm X, in a suit and his trademark glasses, is photographed looking stern and standing in front of a window.
Malcom X

Photo courtesy of
Fannie Lou Hamer speaks into a handheld microphone.
Fannie Lou Hamer

Photo courtesy of
Miriam Makeba sings into a microphone wearing a sparkling outfit and tall hat.
Miriam Makeba

Photo by James Andanson/Sygma via Getty Images.
Mugshot of John Moody following his arrest for participating in a Freedom Ride.
John Moody

Photo courtesy of
Ella Baker sits before a pile of papers, smiling slightly as she looks straight ahead.
Diane Nash

Photo courtesy of IMDB.
Diane Nash, wearing a suit jacket, looks over her shoulder, smiling.
Ella Baker

Photo courtesy of Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images.
Gloria Richardson, wearing a floral shirt, smiles slightly as she look ahead.
Gloria Richardson

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Jocko Henderson smiles as he holds a record, seated in front of his radio broadcast desk.
Douglas “Jocko” Henderson

Photo courtesy of Radio Hall of Fame.

Posted on May 20, 2024 in Learning Guides, Productions

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