Starring Ben Franklin, and Rosa Parks

Get ready to laugh, cry and flat out have a great time. Two different shows performed in costume by nationally acclaimed historical interpreters. 

Meet Ben Franklin and Rosa Parks – hear their stories – ask them how they re-invented their world. You’ll laugh – you’ll cry – you’ll have lots of questions. And they’ll be answered. Bring your stories. Share your experiences. Get inspired. Because it’s not just history – it’s personal.

Shows will be held at the Historic Morton Theatre,195 West Washington St, Athens GA, 30601 | MAP

The shows are FREE and open to the public.

Rosa Parks portrayed by Becky Stone

Morton Theatre, 195 W Washington St, Athens GA, 30601 | MAP

Sometimes when the status quo needs to be shaken up, it is necessary to take a stand. Other times, one must courageously take a seat. Rosa Parks is best known for being arrested for sitting in the wrong bus seat. But Parks was not an apolitical, middle-aged lady whose fatigue kept her seated. Hers was an act that radically changed America itself.

Founded on the opinion that human beings can be owned by others, America placed its democracy in the hands of free white landed males. It took a bloody Civil War before America abolished slavery. Soon after, Jim Crow laws, lynching and voter suppression changed it back into a nation where rights were brutally divided along color lines.

By the 1950’s a different America was emerging. Brown vs Board of Education ruled racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional. And a woman named Rosa Parks and a whole new concept of Civil Rights was about to reinvent American democracy.


Benjamin Franklin | portrayed by Larry Bounds

Morton Theatre, 195 W Washington St, Athens GA, 30601 | MAP

Living in the Age of Enlightenment, Ben Franklin was many things: a printer, a postmaster, an ambassador, an author, a scientist, a founding father. Above all, he was an inventor, creating solutions to common problems, innovating new technology, new governments and even making life a little more musical. Franklin upheld science and intellect and reason – scandalous man!

Franklin helped invent and reinvent the American government as well as himself. He was a Loyalist who transformed into a patriot and founding father. He proposed the Albany Plan, mirroring the Iroquois. He drew up the Articles of Confederation uniting the colonies under the British Crown – and then he signed their Declaration of Independence. As the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention, he declared that the new government was a republic – if we can keep it.

Besides his experiments in electricity and inventions of bifocals, swim fins, the Franklin stove and the glass armonica, perhaps Ben Franklin should be best known for helping create a government with the flexibility to reinvent itself.


The Morton Theatre

The Morton Theatre, located in downtown Athens, GA is one of the first vaudeville theater in the United States uniquely built, owned, and operated by an African-American businessman Monroe (Pink) Morton.

The theatre was opened on May 18, 1910 for vaudeville acts and those of local, regional and national performers. Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Bessie Smith, Louis Smith, Louis Armstrong and Ma Rainey performed at the Morton during its heyday.

Morton owned over 30 buildings, the Morton being the largest. Many of Athens’ Black doctors, dentists, and pharmacists practiced in the Morton Building. Among these were Dr. Ida Mae Johnson Hiram, the first Black woman to be licensed to practice medicine (dentistry) in the State, and Dr. William H. Harris, one of the founders of the Georgia State Medical Association of Colored Physicians, Dentists and Druggists.

These shows are sponsored in part by the generosity of the Athens Downtown Development Authority, the Swagler-Marlowe Family Fund, the Athens Area Arts Council, and people like you – The Friends of Athens Chautauqua.

For questions and suggestions, please email