Play brings civil rights history home
Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown met to talk ‘One Night in Miami...’
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