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Drama marks 50th anniversary of King’s March on Washington

Martin Luther King Jr.

Illinois State University’s School of Theatre and Dance and its Black Actors League will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington with readings from a play about presidential honoree Bayard Rustin.

Citizens from across this country will converge upon our nation’s capital on August 28, 2013, to commemorate and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic March On Washington. In 1963, timed to coincide with the centenary of the Emancipation Proclamation and following President John F. Kennedy’s announcement in June that he would submit a civil rights bill to Congress, this march for jobs and freedom transfixed the nation, inspiring the young Martin Luther King Jr. to declare “I Have a Dream!”

Bayard Rustin with MLK

Bayard Rustin with Martin Luther King Jr.

Now, 50 years later, people at Illinois State are coming together to remember Rustin, an unsung hero who helped lead, organize, and preside over a logistical campaign that was unprecedented in American activism—the March on Washington. About 250,000 participants traveled from across the country during that march—young and old, black and white, celebrities and ordinary citizens.

Scenes from Brian Freeman’s play, Civil Sex, will be presented Wednesday, August 28, at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.,on the Quad, directed by Professor Lori Adams. The play includes characters such as Rustin, Senator Strom Thurmond, Malcolm X, and A. Phillip Randolph, in scenes based on debates and arguments leading up to the March on Washington. Assistant Professor of Acting and Movement Duane Boutte will reprise his role as Rustin in these readings, with other faculty and students in the School of Theatre and Dance.

Later in the evening, patrons are invited for a full reading of the play at 8 p.m. in Kemp Recital Hall (Centennial East Building, first floor). Both events are free with an opportunity to generate fresh insights into the March on Washington.

For more information about the play, contact Boutte at (309) 438-3955 or dboutte@ilstu.edu. Parking for the evening event is free in the School Street Parking Garage at 400 West Beaufort Street in Normal. Parking for daytime events is available in the South University Street Parking Deck for a small fee. Accessible seating and assisted-hearing devices are available by calling the box office at (309) 438-2535.

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