‘King’s Dream’ Brings Civil Rights Leader into Focus

By Purnell T. Cropper | January 21, 2013

Photography PEDRO LEAL ’13

On Jan. 15, Key Arts Productions presented “King’s Dream,” a unique live performance and multimedia presentation, in the Commons Great Room. The performers joined the Arcadia University community in commemorating the life, work and message of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“King’s Dream” gave a brief history of the American Civil Rights Movement, focusing primarily on King’s contributions. It was the live performances, however, that set this presentation apart from others of its kind. Key Arts Productions blends a traditional slideshow and short film clips with live commentary, singing and instrumentation.

The audience was invited to clap their hands, snap their fingers and sing along to music that defined the era. Although the songs dated back to the Civil Rights Movement, many of the attendees were familiar with the set list, which included “Amazing Grace” and “We Shall Overcome.”

The interactive elements of the program allowed the performers to bring history to life and give meaning to the images of oppression, hope and change projected onto the screen. Tanesha Waid ’13, who helped to bring Key Arts Productions to Arcadia, said, “[The Office of Institutional Diversity] has used this group in the past. They do multimedia shows, so you get to be a part of the act. This program really makes you think, ‘What can I do?’”

Waid, who praised the blend of history and music, added, “[Singing] ‘We Shall Overcome’ was a really big moment for me. It’s a reminder that no matter how bad the past may be, we can move forward.” Like many in the audience, Waid felt that she was being asked to join not only in the songs but in the message of equality and perseverance as well.

Prior to showing clips of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” and “Mountaintop” speeches, the performers asked the audience, “What would you have done during the Civil Rights Movement?” As Key Arts Productions finished its presentation, audience members were left to choose between taking part in the modern fight for equality or being bystanders.

The Office of Institutional Diversity encourages every student, especially those who were unable to see “King’s Dream,” to take action and attend its next event: “Getting Guilty Convictions Right: More Than Meets the Eye.” With the help of the Jewish Social Policy Action Network and the Cheltenham Area Branch of the NAACP, Arcadia University hosts the discussion on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Commons Great Room. The program, which reflects the meaning and mission of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is intended to leave the community with a greater passion for diversity, justice and change.

Waid, who plans to take advantage of the opportunity to take part in both events, said, “I’m definitely going to think about the powerful questions [the performers asked], and ask myself, ‘Am I doing enough?’”