There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves; nothing that reminds us of the ones who made the journey and of those who did not make it. There is no suitable memorial or plaque or wreath or wall or park or skyscraper lobby. There is no three-hundred-foot tower. There's no small bench by the road.-Toni Morrison 1989
The Bench by the Road Project was launched by the Toni Morrison Society in honor of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. This Bench is placed in recognition of the racial integration of Lisner Auditorium. On October 29, 1946, the opening night of the play Joan of Lorraine as the first commercial theater production in the Lisner Auditorium, the building was surrounded by protesters and picket lines. The protests were inspired by lead actress Ingrid Bergman, who was outraged by the theater's policy of racial discrimination. In response to continuing protests by the American Veterans Committee and others, the George Washington University Board of Trustees, in an action in 1947, decided that the university would no longer impose restrictions on attendance at the auditorium. This Bench provides a space for all who pass to contemplate the injustice of segregation—the enduring legacy of slavery—and
the pioneering acts that create change.
September 21, 2011
The George Washington University