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On The Mountaintop: Martin Luther King’s Legacy of Love

Drew Shade

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The man we celebrate today came from holy beginnings. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is laced with hymns and praises, and he is lauded as the leader of the civil rights movement. But Martin Luther King Jr. was just a man. He held rallies where that was a battle-cry, “I AM A MAN!” Today, calling Dr. King a man seems simple, belittling almost, but in his time it was too much to ask. As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let’s revisit just how radical his proclamation was.

In Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop, we see a human King. There are no grandiose statues or great pulpits, just a man with a passion for freedom and love. The 2011 Broadway production starring Samuel L. Jackson as King & Angela Bassett as his co-star, left theatergoers standoffish in light of an imperfect King. Ironically enough, Katori drew the humanity out of King to pull the greatness out of us. Katori’s King was so openly fearful so that we could understand bravery. Katori immortalized King’s place in the theatre; she gave dimensions to a man who lived under the threat of death but spoke about the equality and promise of tomorrow.

Today we celebrate a man who not only spoke of equality under monuments but marched for it in the streets of Memphis. Martin Luther King Jr. remained steadfast in a movement that watched its leaders become martyrs every day. He was a man that demanded humanity from a nation that abused him for drinking coffee at diner countertops. In light of the tumultuous leadership heading to the American government, I encourage you to celebrate King by honoring his resilience.

King’s most potent weapon was his voice. Nations honored him, while ours feared what his determination could do. King thrived in a country that was committed to keeping the Black community marginalized and without structure. Martin Luther King did not just turn the other cheek; he faced discrimination with debilitating logic, grand inspiration and will power that eviscerated anyone that supported injustice. King’s tireless trek towards peace was consistent therefore mighty. Even when racists bombed his house, he spoke love and not hate to a crowd of angry onlookers.

We celebrate King, not only for his ideas but for the actions that brought them to life. Every January, we honor a man who gave his life so that we would give the same respect to the sanitation worker that we gave to the governor. Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life so that our character would speak for us instead of our color and he did just that. Even in the face of absolute hate, he spoke of love and solidarity.

Dr. King dedicated his life to creating a world as beautiful as the words he wove together. We celebrate Dr. King because, in his dreams, he saw a world that transcended hate and ascended to The Mountaintop. We honor Dr. King because while he was with us, he didn’t just preach about this mountaintop, he led us there too.

Founder/Editor-In-Chief of BroadwayBlack.com | Actor | Artist | 1/3 of @OffBookPodcast | Theatre connoisseur | All Audra Everything | Caroline over Change | I'm Not Charl Brown | Norm Lewis is my play cousin | Producing an all-black production of Mame starring Jenifer Lewis in my head

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Shamica West

    January 17, 2017 at 10:06 AM

    We will thrive if and when we treat each other with dignity and respect regardless of one’s station in life!

    • Malia West

      January 17, 2017 at 11:39 AM

      Indeed, King constantly encouraged solidarity and respect in his work. It’s that unity that he preached about that brought us this far.

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Kareem Lucas’ The Maturation of an Inconvenient Negro (or ‘iNegro’) Kicks Off Cherry Lane Theatre’s Mentor Project

Drew Shade

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Cherry Lane Theatre Kicks-Off Mentor Project With THE MATURATION OF AN INCONVENIENT NEGRO (OR INEGRO)

Cherry Lane Theatre is proud to kick-off its Obie Award-winning Mentor Project with this year’s first production, The Maturation of an Inconvenient Negro (or iNegro) written by and starring Kareem M. Lucas, mentored by Craig ‘muMs’ Grant. The Maturation of an Inconvenient Negro is directed by David Mendizábal and began performances on Wednesday, February 20 and runs through March 2 at the Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street, NYC). Tickets are $25 ($60 for a three-show membership) and can be purchased by visiting cherrylanetheatre.org or by calling 866-811-4111.

This solo show of heightened poetry and raw self-reflection takes the audience on the subversive journey of a young Black man coming into himself, as he struggles to break free of what he holds onto most tightly. In iNegro – No one is safe. Nothing is sacred.

This marks the first show of three Mentor Project productions. Upcoming productions include three girls never learnt the way home, written by Matthew Paul Olmos and mentored by Taylor Mac (March 13 – 23, 2019) and The Climb written by C.A. Johnson and mentored by Martyna Majok (April 3 – 13, 2019). Casting and creative team TBA.

Craig ‘muMs’ Grant (left) & Kareem Lucas for Cherry Lane Theatre’s 2019 Mentor Project

The creative team includes set design by Wilson Chin, costumes by Dede Ayite, lighting design by Cha See, sound design and composer Mauricio Escamilla, and Kristy Bodall is the Production Stage Manager.

The Mentor Project, winner of an Obie Award for its dedication to helping early-career playwrights develop new work, each year partners an emerging author with a seasoned professional for a year of script work, rewrites, casting, rehearsals and a full production at Cherry Lane. Mentor Project is also the recipient of the James Kirkwood Award for American Playwrights.

This marks the 21st year if the Mentor Project which has helped develop works by playwrights such as Jocelyn Bioh, Katori HallRajiv Joseph, and Antoinette Nwandu.

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Meet The Press: Loy A. Webb’s The Light Now Running Off-Broadway

Drew Shade

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McKinley Belcher III, Mandi Masden, Logan Vaughn, & Loy A. Webb Photo by Drew Shade

MCC Theater presents the first show in their new home on 52nd street. It’s the New York Premiere of The Light by Loy A. Webb and directed by Logan Vaughn.

Broadway Black had the chance to meet with the entire company. The cast of The Light features Drama Desk Award winner McKinley Belcher III and Mandi Masden.

Not every marriage proposal goes as planned. Loy A. Webb’s The Light introduces us to Rashad and Genesis on what should be one of the happiest days of their lives, but their joy quickly unravels when ground-shifting accusations from the past resurface in this gripping two-character drama. Can their relationship survive the growing divide between them over who- and what – to believe? Directed by Logan Vaughn, The Light is a reckoning that unfolds in real-time and peels away the layers of truth, doubt, pain, and ultimately the power of love.

The Light currently in previews officially opens February 10, 2019, and runs thru March 17, 2019

The creative team includes scenic design by Kimie Nishikawa, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Ben Stanton, sound design by Elisheba Ittoop.

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