For Immediate Release

Spuyten Duyvil New York, New York

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Fifty years after she witnessed her first protest — Negro women in shirtwaist dresses and their children marching outside the 3rd grade classroom window, while Mrs. Mallory read “Charlotte’s Web” — Susan Grace Banyas returned to her hometown of Hillsboro, Ohio, to find the women and the county engineer who sparked the action with a single tool, a match.

One person sends her to the next and she follows the clues to uncover a big American tale set against the backdrop of the Cold War. The voices of the Marching Mothers, the County Engineer, Federal Judges, Town Folk, Civil Rights leaders are choreographed into a narrative that spirals from the conversation at the Prime Cut to the coup in the Congo.

Inspired by her Quaker Ancestors, who operated a “safe house” on the Underground Railroad a few miles from Hillsboro, Banyas focuses the light on what hides in the shadows of the culture, then and now, and the deep nature of memory as a tool for empowerment, creative collaboration, and healing. The Mothers outside the school window didn’t wait for history. They defined it.

Susan Grace Banyas is a choreographer and multi-media artist who grew up in Southern Ohio and lives on the West Coast. This is her first book.

This stirring book deserves to be widely read as out American Citizenry continues to reckon with our county’s long legacy of racial injustice.
— Jock Reynolds, Yale University Art Gallery
From the loyal cohort of women who picketed and homeschooled their children, to the visionary civil engineer, to the great Civil Rights lawyer Constance Baker Motley, to her own feisty mother and neighbors, Banyas, a dancer and movement teacher, delivers a passionate lyrical painful history.
— Elin Diamond, Professor of English, Rutgers University, author of Pinter's Comic Play, Unmaking Mimesis, and Editor, Performance and Cultural Studies
In the spirit of the best of Studs Terkel, “The Hillsboro Story” is an inspiring model for finding and revealing the lost voices of ordinary and extraordinary people who made our American history
— Pat Ferrero, Filmmaker, Professor InterArts & Cinema, San Francisco State University
Susan Banyas left Hillsboro, but Hillsboro never left her - and with this beautifully written book she has recovered a fascinating but forgotten chapter in the history of the civil rights movement: the story of the fire at “the colored school” in a small town in Ohio in 1954
— Jon Wiener, Professor Emeritus of History, University of CA, Irvine, Author of How We Forgot the Cold War and Contributing Editor at The Nation

Book Link

North American Distribution: Ingram $18.00 ; Paperback ISBN: 978-1-947980-90-7 US Release July 2019


SUSAN BANYAS has worked extensively as a dancer, writer, and performance artist since 1976, when she co-founded SO&SO&SO&SO and began to develop Soul Stories and Everyday Dancing, forms that integrate movement, image, and language into physical poetry. She has taught for the past 40 years in school, universities, and in studios, and has directed and created numerous full-length original dance/theatre works, including The Hillsboro Story and No Strangers Here Today, multi-voiced investigations that illuminate the role her Ohio hometown played in American Civil Rights history and the journey to encounter that history directly. Both pieces, with music scores by jazz/world music composer, David Ornette Cherry and choreography/direction by Gregg Bielemeier, toured nationally and are expanded into a non-fiction book, The Hillsboro Story/a kaleidoscope history of an integration battle in my hometown, (Spuyten Duyvil Press, NYC, 2019). Outtakes is a multi-media performance form, featuring excerpts and outtakes from the book, performed as a solo monologues, lecture-performance, ensemble theatre, designed for varying venues. She co-directed, with choreographer Andrea Parson, Finding Soul, A Constellation of Dance Stories, for Coho Theatre’s Summerfest in Portland, Oregon. Her choreography and theatre direction inform the Blue Wheel series - a video documentary and full length multi-media performance collage. The collaborative dance/theatre work, It’s Been a Busy Week has been staged in various sites, including Marylhurst University’s Art Gym exhibit, Dance: before, during, after, visual art and dance practice. Please see Archives for list of collaborators. She has received support from numerous regional and national arts organizations and foundations, has been featured in three books on art and life, and was gifted with residences at Caldera in Oregon and the Robert Rauschenberg Residency Program in Captiva, Florida. In 2016, she received the Yolanda D. King award from the Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church in Portland for “living the dream” through storytelling and activism. Forest Visions (2018 on)is an interdisciplinary project designed to stimulate conversation, education, and action related to climate change and big timber. Kundalini History/Voices from the Great Serpent is a multi-media work-in-progress centered on the ancient earthwork in Southern Ohio.

Press Photos

Image by Dorinda Holler Image by Deborah Dombrowski

Additional Book Images


NAACP attorney’s Constance Baker Motley between Russell Carter and James McGee, 1956


Marching Mother Elsie Steward Young, 2016, 100th birthday celebration


Bells Opera House, High Street, Hillsboro, Ohio