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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

Purlie Victorious

Leslie Odom Jr. stars in the Broadway run of Purlie Victorious.

Until Jan 7, 2024
239 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036, United States

In 1961, Malcolm X watched a performance of Purlie Victorious, a comedy written by Ossie Davis and set in the Jim Crow South. The play is about Purlie Victorious Judson, a traveling preacher who goes home to his small Georgia town to save his church and emancipate cotton pickers working on the villainous Ol’ Cap’n Cotchipee plantation. Davis starred as Purlie Victorious and his wife, Ruby Dee, was his sidekick Lutiebell. In interviews, Davis recalled Malcolm X praising the play for getting “Black folks laughing at White folks,” which “was revolutionary—the highest kind of struggle he could imagine.” Sixty-two years after its Broadway premiere, the play is receiving its first Broadway revival. This time, Leslie Odom Jr., who won a Tony for his role as Aaron Burr in Hamilton, plays the preacher. —Jensen Davis

Photo: Marcus Middleton

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