Civil rights pioneers come together in fictional ‘Meeting’

2013-01-17T00:00:00Z Civil rights pioneers come together in fictional ‘Meeting’Tim Shellberg Times Correspondent
January 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Much has been made of the philosophical differences between civil rights pioneers Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X.

In his crusade for equality, King took a stance of non-violence, while Malcom X’s approach, also not encouraging violence, encouraged his followers to not turn the other cheek if confronted.

But Wesley Lawrence Taylor, who portrays Malcom in the national touring production of the drama “The Meeting,” also notes the similarities between the two leaders.

“They were, at that time, probably the only two people who could understand what the other one was going through,” he said. “Both lived under constant threat of assassination and neither one of them figured they would live to a ripe old age. They were both family men. They both had wives and children. And both were religious men.”

Scheduled to be staged today at the Bruce W. Bergland Auditorium at Gary's Indiana University Northwest, “Meeting” finds the two civil rights icons coming face-to-face, albeit fictionally, discussing and debating their actions and ideologies in a hotel in Harlem in early 1965.

Penned by American playwright and author Jeff Stetson, “Meeting” made its stage debut in 1987. Two years later, it was brought to the small screen by PBS and received an Emmy.

“It’s an incredibly well-written piece,” Taylor said. “They were both men who were cut down before they were able to finish what they had started but, in their short time, they accomplished more than most of us would in two lifetimes.”

At IUN’s “Meeting,” Taylor will be joined on stage by Jeff Robinson as King and Michael Nurse as Rashad, Malcolm’s bodyguard.

“I hope that (audiences) go away (from the play) with a sense of each man’s humanity,” Taylor said. “We hold them up and put them on a pedestal, and perhaps rightfully so for their accomplishments, but at the base, they were men, and they weren’t perfect. But they recognized what needed to be done and had very strong ideas about what could be accomplished.”

A reception for “The Meeting” is scheduled immediately following the play. FYI: "The Meeting" will be performed at 6 p.m. today at Bruce W. Bergland Auditorium, Savanna Center, Indiana University Northwest, 33rd Ave and Broadway, Gary. Admission is free. Call (888) 968-7486 or visit IUN.EDU

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