- Faith & Family
“You can kill the dreamer. You can absolutely kill the dreamer, but the dream is still alive.”
These were powerful words declared in Mine Eyes Have Seen, an African Heritage Youth Theatre play/film production directed by Stacey Morrison that captured the three days that led to the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Both cast and audience members became emotional as they reflected on the murder of one of the most memorable American history icons.
“It was overwhelming because [King] was a man that advocated non-violence, didn’t hurt anyone, was looking out for not just [Blacks], but everyone and they shot him because he was trying to make a change,” Yvonne Strachan, production manager and actress, said.
She remembers crying when she first heard that King was assassinated, as a student at Miami Northwestern Sr. High School in the 1960s. But it was his speech “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” that had helped her cope.
“To know that he had a premonition of his death and he wasn’t fearful to die for something that he believed in, that gave me strength and to this day. I’ve learned to just stand up, and if I believe in something, I’m willing to die for it.”
Maxine Wooten, an audience member, also enjoyed watching King’s speech, “I’ve been to the Mountaintop.”
Both Wooten and her daughter, Valarie Wooten-Sanders liked the way the director intertwined the onstage acting with real footage of Dr. King.
She said she could tell that the actors enjoyed being a part of the production.
The cast and the director discuss the production
It was important that people reflected on King, someone who sacrificed his life for others, according to Director Stacey Morrison. She mentioned that there are a lot of murders in the Liberty City area, but she believes there should be more people acting out of love like King did.
“We need to get back to that so I thought it was important for the kids to see, learn something and feel something.”
Morrison said she knew for a fact that the cast had learned and connected with their history while being a part of the production, this is why many cried as they played the roles and reenacted King’s death.
“Nothing compared to them having that real connection to what their history is,” she said.
Myles Walker, who played Jesse Jackson and is a senior at Miami Carol City Senior High school, said he admires and loves King because of the bravery and the love he had for his people.
Amari Coq, who played a supporter of King and is a senior at Dr. Micheal M. Krop High School, said the production showed how much King cared for not only Black people, but all people.
“It took a lot of hard work and dedication because we really wanted to get into character,” said Sean Sanders, who played Rev. Billy Kyles and is a senior at Northwest Christian Academy. “This wasn’t something that we wanted to play around with. We wanted to be serious and really showcase to the people of the community what was going on back then.”
By Malika A. Wright