On Sunday night, the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, National Action Network (NAN) delivered a staged reading of “The Peacemaker,” a play about Dr. King written by Arnold Pinnix, via Zoom. It was presented by NAN Arts and Culture Committee Chairman Pinnix and The NAN Performing Activists in association with NAN Youth Huddle. Pinnix was not only the playwright that evening; he also performed the role of the Spirit of King. The play depicts Dr. King talking about his life, his relationship with his father, his friendship with Ralph Abernathy, his relationship with Coretta and his struggles and dreams.
Pinnix took the audience through the life of Dr. King, bringing up and giving details to some of his most pivotal moments. This production was full of Dr. King’s famous speeches, such as the “I Have A Dream” Speech at the March on Washington and the “Mountaintop” speech at the Temple in Memphis. As Pinnix performed as the Spirit of King, he brought his heart and soul to the role. He came with a powerful, deeply felt performance that demonstrated his respect and regard for Dr. King. And when he performed songs from the Civil Rights Movement, they were inspiring. As he would begin to sing songs like “This Little Light of Mine,” “We Shall Overcome” and “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” with the other cast members on stage, it was uplifting and inspiring.
The audience was able to see Dr. King as not just a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, but as a man. We got to see him as a proud father, full of excitement and hopes with the birth of each of his four children. We got to know Dr. King as a multi-layered man and Coretta Scott King as a talented, intelligent, beautiful woman who, while married to a Nobel prize winner, wanted Dr. King to be a husband and father and be more in the lives of his family, as any woman would want. Dr. King’s relationship with his father Martin Luther King Sr., his siblings, his stand on the Vietnam War, are all included in this interesting story.
The cast aided Pinnix in bringing his play to life and included Dominique Sharpton as Coretta Scott King; Ashley Sharpton as a Black Power advocate; Lorenzo Von as MLK; Cindy Philemon as Alberta King; Dr. Alvin Ponder as Reverend Samuel Kyles; and Shaneeka Powers as the mistress. Sandra Mitchell was production manager. The live Zoom was hosted by NAN Crisis Director Derek Perkinson. When the play reading was concluded, Pinnix and the cast performed a rousing rendition of “Soon and Very Soon We Are Going to See the King.” This reading and the enthusiasm of the performers made you feel like you were honoring Dr. King by witnessing this remembrance of his life.