As I drove to the theatre this morning I was thinking about going to the first rehearsal for this year’s tour of The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights. This year marks the fifth annual tour of our outreach production and after five years I still find contemporary relevance that makes this production vital.
The play follows a young girl who gets into trouble for fighting and is given an assignment to research Dr. King—a man of peace. As she explores the Civil Rights Movement she is transformed by the stories from real-life activists in Chicago. The MLK Project addresses issues of discrimination, racism and intolerance through the eyes of both the celebrated and unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.
In the fall of 2010 there were dozens of news stories about bullying and students taking their own lives to escape the harassment. School bullying and student safety have become an important focus among educators, administrators and parents.
With all that in mind, I feel very proud to bring The MLK Project into schools once again this year. This play and the post-show discussion provide a safe space in which students can address issues of prejudice and discrimination and move toward a more empathetic understanding of their peers. Conversations about acceptance and understanding help students see that they aren’t alone in their experiences. We can’t claim that The MLK Project is going to stop bullying or end prejudice. But if these powerful stories can help students think about treating each other with respect and kindness we can consider that a success.