| Henry Ossian Flipper's life (1856-1940) is the story of
dramatic social change in America that marked the
post-Civil War period when newly freed blacks struggled
for recognition and equality.
Born a slave in Thomasville, Georgia, Flipper grew up in Atlanta. An
outstanding student, he was the third black to be accepted at West Point
Military Academy and the first to graduate. His first assignment was at Fort
Still, Oklahoma (Indian Territory), as the black officers of the 10th Calvary
"Buffalo Soldiers". There he used his civil engineering training and talents
to reduce the spread of malaria by building a drainage ditch. "Flipper's Ditch
is now a National Historic Landmark.
In the summer of 1881 at Fort Davis, Texas, he fell victim to racial prejudice
and was accused of embezzling government funds and "conduct
unbecoming an officer". Acquitted of the first charge, but determined guilty
of the second, he was dismissed from his beloved army. IN spite of this
tragic end to his military career, he then began an outstanding career as a
mining engineer. While the climax of the play is Flipper's trial, some lesser
known events that follow give an unusual insight into his character.
Held in Trust is a magnificent display of showmanship; emotional, gripping, factual,
unfortunately true, highly recommended, and well worth attending. -JH Polk, General USA,
For the rest of his life, Flipper sought to clear his name. In 1976, nearly 40
years after his death, friends and relatives were able to have the charges set
aside and thus obtained his honorable discharge. His body was reburied in
Thomasville with full honors.
On February 19, 1999, President Clinton gave a pardon to Henry Flipper, the
first African-American to graduate of West Point, clearing the way for Flipper
to receive an honorable discharge...118 years after his dismissal from the
U.S. Army. Flipper's life is an interesting story. "The man we honor today
was an extraordinary American. Henry Flipper did all his country asked him
to do" W.J. Clinton
...entertaining , educational, and inspiring. -James Revels, Col. USA, Ret.
Held In Trust was written by Bea Bragg and
Richard Hobbs. For more than 10 years, Bob
Snead has portrayed Lt. Flipper in more than 250
performances throughout the continental United States,
Alaska, Panama, the US Virgin Islands, Germany, and
Belgium. Snead has directed and acted in American
Passport, Minor Miracle, Nobody Sleeps, Purlie, I'm Not Rappaport, Driving
Miss Daisy, Twice Around the Park, and Fences.
In 1995, Snead took his performance of Lt. Flipper to the small screen with a
made-for-television movie of the play. Developed for Public Television, "Held
In Trust" is narrated by veteran actor Ossie Davis and introduced by former
Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell. The movie was awarded a
"Bronze Apple Award" for educational excellence.
Well written directed and staged, this one-act, one-man play is a showcase of Bob Snead's
sensitive and stirring performance. Bravo to all! -Robert Skimin author of the best sellers
Chikara and Grey Victory
|"Held In Trust"