BY JOYCE NANETTE JOHNSON, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — The Gathering of Women, Inc. was awarded a 2017 MLK Day of Service grant to produce a reenactment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech “I Have a Dream.” By bringing to life the epic story of one of the most important figures in American history, the production entitled “The Dream Through Our Eyes” will give children ages 5-17 and chance to personalize Dr. King’s dream.
“My vision was to introduce the children to the “I Have a Dream” speech so that they would understand our heritage, and the milestones that came about,” said Samantha Richardson, chair of the Gathering of Women.
Richardson believes that once the children learn about the struggles for civil rights, they will have a better understanding of the hardships African Americans had to endure just to receive basic rights as a citizen, rights that many people take for granted.
“They will understand that we couldn’t vote and the milestones won,” she said. “They will understand that all people and children are equal.”
The acting parts for several characters have already been filled, but for those interested in videotaping, there will be an opportunity to learn the fundamentals while recording the entire day.
The art group headed up by Joshua Johnson will be responsible for creating the posters that will be placed on the stage that will display many of the images during the era, such as protest marches, riots, the Black Panthers, Malcom X and police brutality. For children interested in singing, there will be a background choir formed under the leadership of Josephine Lampley, and makeup will be done by Joan Reed. Richardson said they are now scouring vintage clothes shops for attire for the entire cast.
Before lights, camera, action, the children will spend time broken into small groups where they will learn and discuss some of the issues that the civil rights era addressed such as the desegregation of schools and the military, voting rights and the 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. King’s speech was immortalized.
They will also become familiar with some of the other civil rights leaders, who along with Dr. King orchestrated the March on Washington: James Farmer, Congress of Racial Equality; John Lewis, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee; A. Phillip Randolph, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porter; Roy Wilkins, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Whitney Young, Jr., National Urban League. These six men became known as the “Big Six Organizers.”
“King talked about freedom, people being sisters and brothers, violence and injustice,” she explained. “All conditions that still exist today.”
The Gathering of Women is making it their mission to teach today’s youth about the sacrifices that were made by to break the yoke of institutionalized racism in the Jim Crow South.
“They think things came automatic; they don’t understand the sacrifices that had to be made. They need to see the struggles through their eyes,” Richardson said.
The production will take place Monday, Jan. 16 from 9-1 p.m. at Pinellas Technical College, 901 34th St. S. If you know your way around a video camera and would like to volunteer your time, please call (727) 433-1352.