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Flagg, Ann, 1924-1970

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: 1924-1970

Ann Kathryn Flagg was born in Charleston, West Virginia on April 29th 1924 to Francis Flagg and Frances Thomas. Growing up Flagg was exposed to culture and encouraged in theatrical pursuits first at Boyd elementary and Jr. High Schools and later at Garnet High School. Teachers remember her as creative and intelligent.

In college, Flagg continued her involvement with the theatre, even serving as president of the West Virginia State Players for a semester. She graduated Magna cum Laude from West Virginia State College in 1945 with a B.S. in teaching.

During the following two years she taught at Northhampton County High School, Virginia. In this time she led students in extra-curricular dramatic activities, including a performance for the West Virginia State Players. In 1947, following her inclination and passion for the theatre, Flagg toured with the American Negro Repertory Players working as a stage manager and an actor. The following year she returned to teaching, this time at Dunbar High School in West Virginia, where she continued to encourage students in dramatic activities. She took classes in speech at the University of Pittsburgh in the summer of 1950 in order to be able to teach speech as well as English at Dunbar.

She used her skill with people and her knowledge of the theater from 1952 to 1961 in Cleveland, directing the integrated Children's theatre at Karamu House. Through this role, Flagg acted in and directed plays, as well as adapting plays for childrens performances which she also cast, directed, and costumed.

In 1961 Flagg again returned to school, this time at Northwestern University to pursue a master's degree in theatre with a focus on play writing. Although she was immersed in her studies, she took a job with the Evanston public schools, teaching drama.

After receiving her masters in 1963, she continued teaching at the Foster School, which during her tenure became a laboratory magnet school (the school was later renamed Martin Luther King, Jr., Lab School). Using an ever-evolving community in terms of race relations as her backdrop, Flagg became an influential voice in the area of multi-cultural dramatics education. As a teacher, she recognized each individual student's abilities all the while holding her pupils to high standards. She taught with creativity, compassion, and humor.

In 1964 CBS ran a national telecast of Flagg's play “Great Gettin' up Mornin,'” which had been selected for first place in The National Collegiate Playwriting Contest a year earlier. This play was pertinent to the times in that it focused on a black family about to send their six-year old daughter to the newly desegregated white school. With a natural ear for dialogue, and a delicate handling of a controversial issue, Flagg's work won praise, and raised her to the status of minor celebrity.

Flagg left Evanston in 1966 to teach playwriting at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Due to health reasons this appointment lasted only a year during which Flagg encountered less enlightened attitudes towards race than she had in Evanston and West Virginia. Flagg came back to Chicago in December of 1966 to give a speech entitled “Helping children Understand the Contributions of the American Negro to American Society.”

Following her foray into college teaching, Flagg was welcomed back to Evanston and District 65, where she taught until her sudden and untimely death in the fall of 1970 from an acute attack of bronchial emphysema.

The faculty and students of King Lab wrote, organized, and performed in a memorial tribute two weeks after her death. In the 1973, the school's auditorium was named for Flagg as a lasting testament to her talent and inspiring presence.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Ann Kathryn Flagg (1924-1970) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 31/6/63
Abstract The Ann Kathryn Flagg Papers fill one half-size box, and cover the time period of 1941 to 1988. The Papers consist of biographical information; memorial tributes; press clippings; educational records; correspondence; lesson plans from Flagg's teaching career; speeches, drafts of writings, and excerpted correspondences and speeches; and published writings.