King honored at Uon stage, in song

The annual event showcased a capella group 7 Days and Mixed Blood Theatre.

Neil Munshi

As dishes clattered in the kitchen, Martin Luther King Jr. commanded a captive audience Monday at the Centennial Hall dining center.

King, who was portrayed by an actor, was part of Spread the Dream, an annual event put on by BRIDGES, a student housing organization. The event featured a King monologue from Mixed Blood Theatre and a performance by 7 Days, a University a cappella group.

Katie Eichele, Sanford Hall director, said the housing organization has held the event for the last six or seven years.

7 Days sang a medley of tunes varying from gospel hymnals, to George Michael, to Marvin Gaye. Approximately 125 students attended the show.

Nate Whittaker, an education graduate student, said people of all colors could benefit from King’s teachings.

“I am a white male, racism lives within me – it is a problem for people of color, but it’s not their problem, it’s our problem.

“I think in the civil rights movement, we changed the laws, but we didn’t change ourselves,” he said.

Warren C. Bowles portrayed King in the Mixed Blood Theatre performance of “Dr. King’s Dream” and has since 1980.

“I love the fact that I’m out doing this piece, especially during these times,” he said. “(King) was interested in rights for the poor, he was interested in peace Ö and I think he would be particularly against the debacle in Iraq, which is the antithesis of peace.”

Bowles said he enjoyed doing the piece so “we truly remember Dr. King beyond the sound-bites.”

His performance shows King in the hours before he was assassinated and takes the audience through hallmarks of King’s storied life.

King gained notoriety during the civil rights movement of the 1950s, leading the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott. He traveled the country preaching equality and justice for all, using the teachings of Christianity and the passive resistance of Mahatma Gandhi to expand the civil rights movement.

Between 1957 and 1968, King traveled more than 6 million miles and made speeches more than 2,500 times, “appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action,” according to the Nobel Prize Web site.

During this time, King also made two visits to the University – on Jan. 28, 1963, at Northrop Auditorium and on April 26, 1967, on the lawn of the St. Paul campus.

On Aug. 28, 1963, King led the famous March on Washington, where he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

When he was 35, King received the Nobel Peace Prize, making him the youngest recipient. King also wrote five books and was named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1963.

King would have turned 76 Saturday but was assassinated on a Memphis, Tenn., motel balcony on April 4, 1968.