December 28th, 1967. America has taken a respite from the heated protests and fire bombings that engulfed the nation during the previous summer. Approaching the house where she and her new husband, Redmond, will live, Florina Gavin Austin, two days married, spies a woman sitting on the steps.
The woman’s uncanny knowledge of the space that Florina will inhabit leaves Florina feeling ill at ease. Following Sunday services, Florina witnesses the woman she will come to know as Agnes, caress Redmond’s cheek. Florina and Agnes’ husbands, Negro doctors in Poinsettia, hold prominent positions in the social and political life of their community.
When Agnes flees to Memphis and joins the Sanitation Workers Protests, all are aghast. Florina respects Agnes’ strength in standing up for what she and all Negroes across America believe and desire: Civil Rights for their people. Moviing towards the fateful day, April 4th, 1968, when Dr. King is killed, Florina learns that marriage exposes the vulnerabilities of all who pledge their trough and body. It casts an even greater shadow upon the ones who vow love unto death, and do not deliver what they have promised. …
When the Drum Major Died shows what happens when we resist change in favor of worn-out tradition, and what occurs when we open our hearts and embrace the words, “ … be first in love … be first in generosity … He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. … ”