Playwright Arthur Beer '56 Recalls On Campus Conversations with Vernon Jordan '57
February 8, 2007
February 8, 2007, Greencastle, Ind. - "[Playwright Arthur J.] Beer's friendship with DePauw University dorm neighbor Vernon Jordan -- a friend and adviser of President Bill Clinton -- inspired an earlier play he wrote about prejudice," reports Michigan's C & G News. The newspaper profiles Beer, whose play Malice Aforethought: The Sweet Trials is being staged through February 18 by the University of Detroit Mercy's theatre department, which Beer co-chairs.
A 1956 graduate of DePauw University, Dr. Beer tells the newspaper of conversations he had with Jordan (pictured below right), who received his DePauw degree in 1957. "My roommate and I were fascinated and shocked by his stories of prejudice he had encountered when he came north. This was 1955, and Northerners in general were very naïve about the idea of prejudice in the North."
Of Malice Aforethought, K. Michelle Moran writes, "Drawing from trial and Detroit Police Department interrogation records and newspaper reports, the script recounts the legal proceedings surrounding Dr. Ossian Sweet and his family. A successful black Detroit physician, Sweet bought a home at 2905 Garland in an all-white, middle-class neighborhood in the summer of 1925. The family was immediately greeted by animosity, and by the second night, a vocal mob outside the home became violent, pelting the house with rocks. When the occupants attempted to defend themselves, firing guns from inside, they were charged with murder after one white neighbor was killed and another wounded. During the landmark Sweet Trials, Sweet was defended by the legendary attorney Clarence Darrow and eventually acquitted by an all-white jury in Judge Frank Murphy's courtroom."Back