Very few historians have seen their work turned into an opera, and even fewer public policy professors can make that claim. But Professor Robert Korstad can. Love Songs from the Liberation Wars, the new jazz opera that premiers on March 30 at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center in Silver Spring, MD, is based on his book, Civil Rights Unionism: Tobacco Workers and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth Century South.
Two of the characters are based on Korstad’s parents, who were union organizers in the South during the time, and who were part of the effort to unionize RJ Reynolds.
Composer Steve Jones, a member of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 161-170, was inspired by the book to write the opera about the efforts to break down Jim Crow laws and build a union. It is directed by Elise Bryant, member of the IWW and labor arts producer and educator. The opera is sponsored by the Labor Heritage Foundation.