How do you choose between
your country, your people,
Do you fight for change or do you get out while you can?
RETURNING THE BONES is based on the true story of the pioneering
African American doctor, Caroline Beatrice Hammond Montier (aka Bebe).
After being invited to finish her medical training in France shortly after WWII, Bebe must choose between returning to Texas and risking her life in the fight for Civil Rights, or abandoning her family by escaping to Paris and live a life she's always dreamed of.
Classic storytelling combined with a fluid physical style will bring you on a journey of many miles, perspectives, and epiphanies.
My father was the youngest of seven. I am the youngest of his four.
His eldest siblings had already begun to pass away by the time I was a child. I was hungry to know my family’s stories, but lived nowhere near relatives enthusiastic to share them.
Finally, as an adult, I took matters into my own hands and reached out to my then 75 year-old Aunt Carolyn, (aka “Auntie Bebe”), whom I’d met only briefly before.
Slowly, over the course of 10 years, (my first interviews still exist on dusty audio cassettes), she might modestly mention how she worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, or how she was among the first African-American women to head up a hospital, or that she received an additional degree in psychiatry from Yale, or how she was invited to President Obama’s first inauguration.
She treated professional athletes, dignitaries and celebrities. She worked with death row inmates, on reservations, trained cadets at a police academy, ran an addictions clinic, and helped abused women find their way back. She never turned an uninsured patient away. She even made house calls. In each of these instances, what stood out to me the most was how she helped those around her assert their own humanity in the face of those who would try to tear it down.
Unlike many depictions of Civil Rights struggles, this story finds joy, love, and humor along the way – qualities which are key to sustaining hope in the face of the kind of stunning horrors and abject despair she was witness to, both in the segregated South and in war-ravaged Europe.
Auntie Bebe passed away in March 2014, but I continue to learn new stories about her remarkably rich life. Until I read her obituary, for example, I had no idea she had been arrested for refusing to sit in the back of a bus; nor did I know that she suffered from a serious heart condition all her life which she never complained to me of even once. Until the end, she continued to approach each day with loving grace, and at times, even childlike wonder. Yet it feels like a misnomer to say “the end” because each time I witness her stories taking root in the hearts of audience members, it’s clear that the love she put into how she lived her life continues to radiate out into the world. One of my favorite audience reactions was: “My husband came home and decided he needed to continue fighting for something he wanted to give up on.”
Auntie Bebe would be proud.
Returning the Bones is available for production. Gin currently has a screenplay in development and has recently published the novel.
Photo Credit: Brian Wells