NEWBERRY — Newberry College will present words from the life of Dr. Martin Luther King as a part of Black History Month on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. The event is a Fine Arts and Lectures event for students, and open to the community in Wiles Chapel Theatre on campus.
The event is titled “Speaking the Dream: Dramatic Presentations from the Life and Words of Dr. Martin Luther King.”
The performance is the creation of Dr. Peggy Winder, director of Diversity Education; Marshall Maddy, director of the Langford Communications Center; and Dr. Joe McDonald, director of the Values Based Learning Program.
The director of the production is Amanda McSwine, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, with technical advice from Professor Patrick Gagliano, chairman of the Theatre, Visual Arts and Communications Department.
Although Martin Luther King is mainly known for his “I Have a Dream” speech, the goal of the program is to provide a broader and more complex picture of him, according to Winder. The speech was only the beginning of a 13-year span that started when he arose as the leader of the Civil Rights movement in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, and ended with his death in Memphis in 1968.
The presentation will expand the scope of common knowledge about King and the movement he led, provide a glimpse of King’s words at different points in history, and show how much effort was put into the leadership of the movement.
Winder said the performance is expected to have the audience leaving the event with a greater understanding and appreciation of King’s life and work.
“As we celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy, we are still dealing with issues of race relations here in the 21st century,” Winder said. “We hope that students (and all others) take time to reflect and look around and see that although progress has been made we still have a long way to go in achieving the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
The program will consist of the recreation of three scenes from King’s Civil Rights movement, starting with his first civil rights speech at Holt St. Church in Montgomery, Ala., as the new leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a speech that will be delivered by student Chris Green.
The second setting is a jail cell in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963 where King wrote a letter to those who were not supportive of his efforts to desegregate public facilities. The letter will be read by Newberry College Professor John Lesaine.
The third and final scene consists of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, delivered by Jimmy Montgomery, also a professor at Newberry. The music accompanying the presentations will be provided by the Metoka Galeda Gospel Choir.
McDonald holds interest in the program particularly because of the standpoint of his childhood, in segregated Atlanta, the city where King grew up.
“The Civil Rights Movement was a message to me and to all of us that racial equality is a moral issue. The Movement asked the question “How, in a nation founded on the principle that “all are created equal,” could we deny that equality for tens of millions of people?” McDonald said.
Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108.