Bryan H. Barrows, III brings his powerful one-man show to Missouri this week.
"Who was Martin Luther King?" tells the story of the evolution of the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s place in it. Barrows, who says the presentation has particular significance this week as the nation’s first black president took office, has been performing the original play since 1988.
According to Wolfman Productions, Barrows portrays Aaron, an old man who is appalled to learn that his grandson doesn’t know who Martin Luther King, Jr. was. Aaron decides that it is his duty to educate the boy.
"What has happened to the dream when the dreamer is no longer with us?" the tale begins.
Through the presentation, audiences relive Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the riots, the March on Washington, and the final days of the assassinated civil rights leader. A high point is Barrow’s presentation of King’s famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
Barrows told the Missourinet he’s surprised how many students tell him after they’ve seen the show that it’s the first time they’ve heard "I Have a Dream" in its entirety.
Barrows has performed at colleges and educational institutions, churches, libraries, and museums across America.
"My most amazing audience was at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin…" he said, "…there were over 1,500 teenagers at the program … and they were very knowledgeable about Dr. King, the Movement and, of course, Malcolm X … a man mentioned extensively in the play."
"I feel that the message in ‘Who Was Martin Luther King?’ is for us all to understand the miracle in the concept of nonviolent social action." Barrows said, "King believed that it could help to eradicate the world’s ills … I do too. This program is a reminder however, that the battle for justice and fairness did not end with the death of Martin Luther King. The clarion call still exists for those of us who are committed that King’s dream of a united America must become a reality. We have a duty to fight racism wherever we find it, but not with retribution and retaliation. This is my way of doing it."