"Jabari, which imagines the young Obama in his bedroom dreaming with his mom, gives you an advanced sense of how pivotal the existence of that presidency might be for young people with outsize aspirations and enough caring adults around to tend to their safety and their dreams."
"gracefully written play"
"lively and entertaining"
"Tight, polished, committed performances one wishes one saw more often in shows for grown-ups"
"Award-winning playwright and actress Nambi E. Kelley has created an exciting new play for young audiences. It tells about a likable young man who, frightened by his own world, yet piqued by what he’s learned in school, time travels through dreams to meet Ruby Bridges, Claudette Colvin, a young Barack Obama and others. Through these encounters, Jabari experiences firsthand the lives and times of several young pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement."
Chicago Theatre Review
"The show entertains and educates children and adults alike, nicely encapsulating important events and encouraging young people to effect positive change."
Chicago Theatre Beat
"Jabari Dreams of Freedom: A love letter to Chicago children"
"Nambi E. Kelley’s Jabari Dreams of Freedom tells the story of a young Black boy from the South Side of Chicago who escapes the turbulent world around him through his colorful paintings, where he interacts with children from the past. Jabari’s dreams empower him to live courageously in the face of fear."
"I found Jabari both inspiring and enlightening."
Times Square Chronicles
"i noticed after i had gotten a ticket for lilianna that the play was suggested for those nine and up. i sat next to her and checked in with her throughout the play to see how she was managing the material. because she was familiar with the stories already, and because of the careful treatment, she understood the seriousness of the situation without being too scared. for myself, the awareness that my six-year-old was sitting next to me while six-year-old "ruby bridges" was describing the experience she was about it have being the only black girl at her school, was incredibly powerful and brought me to tears."
Tales from the Crib
"I think that Jabari learned that it's ok to be afraid at times and all of the people who stood up for black lives were afraid to."
-Josiah H, a young viewer who reached out to Jabari from Wisconsin!
"I think he learned that you don’t have to be older or stronger to stand up, you can be any age to stand up to what the rights are that you think you need to change in the world."
-Lennon D, a young viewer who reached out to Jabari after seeing the show!