Meet Leonard Dozier: The talented writer and star of APOSTLE OF FREEDOM
An Indomitable Will
The spirit of Richard Allen, founder of the A.M.E. Church, is alive and well in Leonard Dozier’s Apostle of Freedom.
Actor/writer/singer/songwriter Dozier wrote and stars in this one-man show, which makes its world premiere at Beacon Theatre Production’s Fall Festival, before hitting the road for a national tour beginning in February 2018. This is not, however, Dozier’s first time playing the legendary Allen.
“I feel that Allen found me, really,” says Dozier, who first played the civil rights leader in the film Bishop Richard Allen: Apostle of Freedom in 2011. The following year, Dozier portrayed him again in the Emmy-winning "Fever: 1793" episode of the television show Philadelphia: The Great Experiment. Since then, he has made appearances and given speeches as Allen.
Dozier’s one-act play vividly captures the brutal treatment of 18th century African Americans against the backdrop of the horrific Yellow Fever epidemic that killed 5,000 Philadelphians in three months. Allen was stricken with the virus but, against all odds, survived. Dozier says that goes to show Allen’s great strength and determination in such a weakened state.
“He was already fighting for equality and racial and social justice, while fighting to live,” Dozier says. “It really heightens that indomitable will.”
Dozier hopes that what the audience takes away from Apostle of Freedom is a greater awareness of Richard Allen and his legacy. He also wants to show that the struggle for African Americans continues.
“Civil rights injustices and problems that existed in the 18th century…still exist here in the 21st century. History repeats itself,” Dozier says. “What do we do as citizens of a country that guarantees that all men are created equal? What do we do as citizens of a country to ensure that and reinforce that?”