“I Am a Man” reminds people of Martin Luther King’s dream of hope

Brianna Baptiste, Columnist

This past week was the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Buffalo State honored Martin Luther King by showcasing the play entitled I Am A Man by Oyamo.

The actors included myself read the play to an audience during Bengal Pause April 3rd and April 5th. Act one was read on the third and act two was on the fifth.

“I decided to put the play on as a reading instead of a full production so that the audience focused on the words rather than the special effects,” said play director Patrick Moltane.

The play I Am A Man is about the true story of the trials and tribulations the African American community in Memphis, Tennessee had to go through in order to get better circumstances for sanitation workers. Specifically, it is centered around the strike leader T.O Jones. This story takes place in the 60s. The play also shines a light on King’s role in issues during that time.

I Am A Man comes to a close with King’s assassination to represent show how some saw it as the death of the Civil Rights Movement, while others used it as a symbol of hope.

“After studying the play for the reading, I have come to the realization that the reason we have achieved all that we have is because of King’s death. Many people didn’t want him to die for nothing,” say I Am A Man actress, Janae Leonard.

Martin Luther King Jr. died April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Like in the play, King traveled to Memphis to support the movement for sanitation workers.

At the time, African American sanitation workers were being paid significantly lower than their white counterparts. Unlike the white workers, they did not receive pay if they had to stay home because of bad weather. Some black workers were even being killed by faulty machinery during this time as well.

Many don’t know that according to biographer Taylor Branch, King’s last words were to a musician who was supposed to be playing in his meeting later that day, Ben Branch. His words were, “Ben, make sure you play, ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.”

Being that this is the 50th anniversary of King’s death, though it has passed, let’s use the whole month of April is memorial for him.

This anniversary falls at a time when we truly needed it, considering our current social and political atmosphere.

On days such as this special anniversary, society tends to come together for that day, until the next big thing separates us again. Let’s keep the unification going, for as long as we can. Support and promote each other.

Let’s stand up for what King believed in and stand together. Stop the hate crimes. Stop the gun violence. Love each other.

Let King be frozen in time in all of us. Let him live on in each and every one of us. Believe in us. Believe in the future like Martin Luther King Jr. did.