A post in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Some years ago, I had the fortune to attend the final dress rehearsal of a musical that was about to open on Broadway. The show dealt in part with issues of race in the south, and was very bad. In one lyric, there was a line very close to something from Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
This will be relevant, I promise.
A few days later, I was in the audience for a discussion with the writers and director of the show. During the question-and-answer period, somebody brought up the above-mentioned lyric and asked, “Was that a purposeful reference to Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech?”
One of the writers of the show, who was no more than five years older than I, explained that the line had actually come from research they’d done on the real-life events that were the basis for the plot. “Maybe Martin was looking at the same material we were,” he said.
In that moment I understood everything about why the show was as bad as it was.
It’s true that the custom in theatrical circles is to call people by their first names. But this particular writer couldn’t have been more than five when King was assassinated.
My parents were shot at, went to jail, and had their dog poisoned, all because they worked with this man.
And they called him Dr. King.