By Zoe Watkins–

Many things occurred during Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one of those events was the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration at the Thrust theatre. It was hosted by The University of Louisville’s African American Theatre Program & the Yearlings Club Forum Series.

This year’s annual event’s theme is “A Dream and A Vision” where a theatrical celebration took place in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. The event had many different aspects throughout the show.

It began with actors Aliyah Brutley, Tyler Tate, Kala Ross enacting a short play called “Is This the Dream?” which was written by Brutley. All three actors started out in the audience and questioning about whether the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. had is still achieved today by talking about the issues that many African Americans face in society.

This introduction to the celebration soon gave way to greetings by Assistant Professor and Director of the AATP Johhny Jones who welcomed the guests. Soon afterwards, Yearlings Club President Sedge Parker shared her greetings which was followed by A & S Interim Dean, Dr. David Owen.

After introduction, the celebration finally begins with an act titled “Bound by Blood” written Clinnesha Sibley. The scene takes place at the Lorrain Motel in Memphis, Tennessee during the night after Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated.  Actor Candance Spencer portrays Jackie who is a housekeeper and a resident of Lorraine Motel who has a conversation with Theatrice Bailey being portrayed by Lamar Hardy. Both characters talk about the aftermath of MLK’s death along with the consequences soon to come.

Following this tense act, there was a short trivia game hosted by Charles Nasby where the audience got to participate, and answer question related to Martin Luther King Jr such as which fraternity he belonged in. Those who guessed correctly won tickets to Detroit ’67.

Then there was dance performance provided the Satin Rhythm Dance Team who are from Simmons College. Soon the Program Coordinator of the Department of Theatre Arts Jessica Keys introduced the keynote speaker, Chief Equity Officer Kellie Watson who gave her speech.

After the speech, “This will Be” was performed by AATP Members with Alex Gordon on piano and Manny Viveros providing bass. The pop song was released in 1975 by artist Natalie Cole in her album, Inseparable

The final performance of the afternoon was a step performance by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

The celebration ended with the award ceremony of Lift Every Voice Awards which was given to co-founder and director of the African American Heritage Foundation Clestine Lanier for her work in public service and non-profit administration.  This was followed by “Lift Every Voice and Sing” where members of the audience joined in the cast on stage in singing this song as a final ballad for the celebration.

Many more things are in the works by The University of Louisville’s African American Theatre Program. Throughout the whole month of January and to April, there will be a series of plays going on during these months starting with Detroit ’67 which is already in Thrust Theatre until Feb 2.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal