Waco youth commemorates Martin Luther King through dramatic reading

By Brooke Hill | Copy Editor

The Jubilee Theatre was packed Monday morning in anticipation of Mission Waco’s day-long celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.

Around 100 residents gathered to hear five children from the theater program perform a dramatic reading. The reading was a compilation of King’s most impactful and well-known sermons and speeches.

“In my mind, the greatest way to honor a man of such a magnitude is to use the very words that he spoke and that he wrote,” said Jubilee Theatre Director Trent Sutton. “What is amazing about Martin Luther King is not only what he did while he was alive, but the way that he continues to act upon people today.”

TK Evans, one of the five children who participated in the reading, also wrote and read a poem about the impact that King’s words had on her. Evans and others in the crowd agreed that there is still much work to be done regarding race equality in America.

“We think that racial reconciliation is still a challenge in America,” said Jimmy Dorrell, Executive President and Director of Mission Waco. “We don’t believe that we’re very far down the road, in fact. This has been a hard year, too. It just says again what a lot of us have known — that there’s still a lot of racism, not just black, white, brown and Asian. It’s also economic, poor and rich.”

Murmurs of agreement echoed through the crowd as the children read in unison “Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout, ‘White Power!’ when nobody will shout, ‘Black Power!’ but everybody will talk about God’s power and human power.”

Dr. Stephanie Boddie, Assistant Professor of Church and Community Ministries at Baylor, shared her thoughts on King’s impact. Boddie is currently developing a collection of oral histories and has worked with others to produce a mini-documentary, Tindley Temple: Journey of a Congregation, and two multi-media music documentaries, Spirituals and the Souls of Black Folks, and Journey to Sanctuary: From Great Migration Stories to Our Lives Matter.

“We have lots of unfinished business to work on,” Boddie said. “Over the past several years, I’ve been collecting oral history from older adults, working side by side with young people to create these films … so that we can all share our stories and create new stories … so that we can have liberty and justice for all.”

Dorrell asked questions to test the audience’s knowledge of the Civil Rights movement and advancement of African-Americans, asking questions about Jim Crow laws, Dred Scott and Jackie Robinson. Other questions were related to Baylor, such as the first African-American from Baylor to win the Heisman trophy and the first African-American female at Baylor to “dunk it.” Dorrell also mentioned Cesar Chavez as a tribute to hispanic civil rights.

“It’s about us, the Christian followers going out and helping build bridges to overcome the differences in our culture,” Dorrell said. “We’re still not doing really well at that, even the churches aren’t doing really well.”

The dramatic reading was the first event of the day for Mission Waco, followed by more activities honoring the life of King. A group of Live Oak Classical School students attended the reading, and Dorrell said that about 150 would be there throughout the day to help participate in the soul food lunch and dialogue as well as multiple community service projects.