The most direct road to old Baltimore next week might run through Washington.
Actor Laurence Fishburne takes to the stage at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday to perform the title role in "Thurgood," a one-actor play about the first African-American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
And, as Fishburne embodies Thurgood Marshall delivering a lecture on his life at Howard University, audiences will also get a glimpse into the city where the future justice grew up.
Theatergoers will meet Marshall's formidable grandmother, Annie, who launched possibly the first sit-down strike ever held in the city from her grocery store at the corner of Dolphin and Division streets.
They will ride along with Marshall as he takes a trolley car on a fateful errand for the high-end dress shop on Charles Street where the teen held an after-school job. And they'll sit in the second-floor classroom where the boy watched white officers beat up black prisoners in the adjoining Northwest District police station.
Marshall credited all of his experiences, good and bad, with helping him devise strategies to combat racism. He was a successful lawyer before he was appointed to the Supreme Court, and in 1954, as chief counsel for the NAACP, he successfully argued the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education.
The play by George Stevens Jr. enjoyed a successful run on Broadway in 2008, and Fishburne picked up a Drama Desk Award for outstanding solo performance.
"Thurgood" runs from 7:30 p.m. through June 20 at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. N.W., Washington. Tickets cost $25-$90. Call 500-444-1324 or go to http://www.kennedy-center.org> for show times.
Mary Carole McCauley