Play brings brief meeting to life
Historians have examined the polar opposite approaches of two of the nation’s most recognized leaders in civil rights and black nationalism since their heyday in the epic 1960s.
The African American Repertory Theater and the Dallas Historical Society have been co-presenting an exploration of the subject this month, and Friday and Saturday are your last opportunities to see it.
The Meeting is a theatrical depiction of an imagined conversation between civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and black nationalist and former Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X. The conversation is imagined because the two icons only met once, briefly, in Washington, D.C., in 1964, for about one minute and just long enough for to be captured in a few now-historic images.
The exploration is timely during this 50th year since King’s 1968 assassination and this weekend’s observance of the birthday of Malcolm X, who would have turned 93 on Saturday. Both leaders were assassinated at age 39.
In the play, the two martyrs exchange diametrically opposed views about how to improve the lives of black people in America. King, of course, urged nonviolent civil disobedience. Malcolm argued that when attacked, black people should return violence with violence.
The exhibit “Dallas in the Time of MLK” will also be on display in the Hall of State’s East Texas Room. It features artifacts related to King’s two visits to Dallas in the 1960s and to Dallas residents who battled for civil rights during the King era.
Play performances are presented in the Margaret and Al Hill Lecture Hall on the lower level of Fair Park’s Hall of State Building, 3939 Grand Ave. Enter Gate 3 for free parking. The final performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Jeff Stetson wrote the play in 1987 and it later aired on PBS in 1989. Local actress Regina Washington directs the Dallas production. Jordan Dragonking plays King, Christopher Piper portrays Malcolm X, and Darren Mcelroy plays his bodyguard, Rashad. Noted actress Irma P. Hall of Dallas is AART’S artistic director.
Tickets are $20 and $25 and available at aareptheater. net (or 972-572-0998) and dallashistory.org (or 214-4214500).
ABOUT TOWN: The Black Police Association of Greater Dallas has a new program to help families and individuals learn how to buy a home. The second Home Buying Community Outreach Program seminar will be from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at the association headquarters at 211 Centre St.
Association members say the new outreach program builds on the philosophy of community policing, which aims to improve police-community relations in ways that include helping people realize the dream of homeownership. The association has partnered with Realtor Randy Bell and financial lender Ed Tatum to present what will be recurring seminars.
Saturday’s event is free. Register at bpadallas.eventbrite.com. To learn more, visit bpadallas.org or call 214-4217644.
Black leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X met once, briefly, in 1964.