Play brings civil rights his­tory home

Cas­sius Clay, Mal­colm X, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown met to talk ‘One Night in Mi­ami...’

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Travel & Life - By Ben Cran­dell South­Florida.com

On Feb. 25, 1964, a 22-year-old Cas­sius Clay shocked the world with a vic­tory over Sonny Lis­ton at the Mi­ami Beach Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, not only win­ning the heavy­weight cham­pi­onship of the world, but in­stantly be­com­ing an in­ter­na­tional pop-cul­ture star.

So un­ex­pected was the tri­umph that no post-fight event was planned, and Clay was left to cel­e­brate in de­cid­edly low-key fash­ion at his Jim Crow-era ho­tel in Mi­ami with three friends: con­tro­ver­sial re­li­gious leader Mal­colm X, singer Sam Cooke and NFL star Jim Brown.

There is much to un­pack in that evening at the Hamp­ton House in Mi­ami’s Brownsville neigh­bor­hood, a his­toric sum­mit of four men who would be­come Leon Thomas III (Sam Cooke), from left, Kieron J. An­thony (Cas­sius Clay), Ja­son De­lane (Mal­colm X) and Esau Pritch­ett (Jim Brown) star in Mi­ami New Drama’s sea­son opener, “One Night In Mi­ami ...”

prom­i­nent fig­ures in the civil rights move­ment. It wasn’t long be­fore Clay was re­born as Muham­mad Ali, Cooke and Mal­colm X were dead and Brown was walk­ing away from foot­ball at the peak of his Hall of Fame ca­reer.

In his com­pelling in­ter­pre­ta­tion of

that evening, Los An­ge­les-based play­wright Kemp Pow­ers of­fers a fly-on-the­wall ac­count of the gath­er­ing — filled with joc­u­lar bravado and hu­mor, frus­tra­tion and fears, and Sam Cooke songs — as

SU­SAN STOCKER/SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SEN­TINEL

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