Is This America?

Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Civil Rights Activist Fannie Lou Hamer


September 20th, 21st, & 22nd
The Strand Theatre

Tickets Now Available!



Is This America? brings to life one of the most turbulent periods in American history.

It tells the story of Ms. Hamer, the great Mississippi activist who galvanized the registration of Black voters in her home state despite overwhelming odds, including death threats, beatings, and rejections by her own constituency. The title of the work is taken from the iconic speech Ms. Hamer made 60 years ago before the 1964 Democratic National Convention, when she petitioned the Convention to give her newly formed political party, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), seats at the Convention and to recognize the MFDP as the legitimate representative of the people of Mississippi. A year later President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed discriminatory voting practices.

White Snake Projects' 2024-20254 programming is supported by a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation. Our programming is also supported the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mass Cultural Council, the Boston Cultural Council, Reopen Creative Boston Fund, administered by the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture and the Ditson Fund.


Deborah Nansteel Fannie Lou Hamer/Lou Ella Townsend
Eliam Ramos-Silva Pap/James Townsend/Ensemble
Naila Delgado Child Soloist


Tianhui Ng Music Director
Mary D. Watkins Composer/Librettiest
Cerise Lim Jacobs Co Librettist

Technical & Production

Jeffrey Petersen Production Manager
Baron Pugh Scenic Design
Chloe Moore Costume Design
John Oluwole Adekoje Projection Design
Aja Jackson Lighting Design
Anika Nayak Stage Management
Crow Traphagen Assistant Stage Manager
Nettrice Gaskins Artwork Designer


The Inspiration

Singing Through Our Fears

“My goal is to show the dignity and strength with which Fannie Lou Hamer and her fellow civil rights workers carried themselves in spite of the terror and dehumanizing treatment they were subjected to and to convey the great spirit of love that bound them together. Their story deserves to be told in a grand way – a way befitting the souls of the people who marched in the streets in the hot sun with such determination, singing through their fears while their opponents spat upon them, beat them, kicked them, called them vile names, terrorized their families, and imprisoned them. Is This America? is my salute to these beautiful, courageous people. I chose to tell Fannie Lou Hamer’s story as an opera because I wanted to use an art form that would capture the power and sweep of her life. I wanted to give full voice to this amazing African-American female political leader.”

— Composer MARY D. WATKINS