I am writing a new play about activists. The title is rather unoriginal: Activist. But I like to think I am delivering a new, important play in a creative way.
The first scene of Activist is called The Dreadhead Cowboy. It is loosely based on Adam Hollingsworth’s mission to bring attention to (and end) violence against children.
Hollingsworth is better known as “The Dreadhead Cowboy” and “The Census Cowboy.”
The Census Cowboy gained attention this past summer when he rode his horse into various Chicago neighborhoods and gently — but spectacularly — requested that everyone fill out the decennial census. The father of four who identifies as a “peacemaker” and was praised for his efforts by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
But in September, the praise turned to sharp criticism because The Dreadhead Cowboy rode his horse “Nunu” for several miles on the Dan Ryan Expressway during rush hour. During his ride, he shouted “Kids’ Lives Matter” and demanded that the violence against children stop. But people didn’t hear that as much as they saw an animal being mistreated.
Horses are not built to gallop on concrete and the ride nearly killed Nunu. After his seven-and-a-half mile run, Hollingsworth was arrested for animal abuse — a felony — and his trial is scheduled for February 2021. The horse is in recovery and more people seem focused on the animal than his message to end violence against children.
Such is often the case with activists. A car or a store or a piece of property — or in the case of Hollingsworth, a horse — takes precedence over the life of a child or a Black person.
My play examines why that is so often the case. I hope to highlight a different activist with each scene. Some will be people you have heard of your whole life. Others are not household names, but have influenced change and public policies along the way.
If you are interested in catching the first scene on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at Naked Angels Tuesdays at 9 Chicago, shoot me an email at email@example.com. -Connie