How did you spend your Martin Luther King Day? Did you reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go? I spent my day at the All Stars Project kicking off UX Spring Semester. UX is a unique development institution that is free of cost and open to people of all ages and backgrounds who want to grow and develop. UX includes the established programs and ongoing activities of the All Stars Project and much more! (www.allstars.org)
Over 550 people from communities throughout the five boroughs came and participated in a wide array of developmental activities. A highlight of the program was a special performance by All Stars youth in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was brought to tears by these incredible and talented young people. They poured their hearts out on the stage about growing up poor, selling drugs, having a learning disability,being called a spic, religion and dreams. Telling the audience how despite the obstacles they faced in their negative environments, they found through the All Stars a place to grow. One young man expressed that he sold drugs but after doing a talent show and being invited to perform for a cocktail party at Lincoln Center, the All Stars opened up his mind to the possibilities for him. He’s now graduating in May from Technical School.
The young performers at the MLK Day performance took me back to 2006. I was so moved by them and reminded why I became an actor.Through the work of the All Stars, I am constantly reminded the POWER of performance and the arts. In 2006, I did the production “Have You Ever Seen A Dream Rapping?”(Letters to Dr.King) Through this show, I was able to put in words and perform my struggles with my doctor, my father.I used this theatre piece to make a parallel between Dr. King and my father on how young girls growing up do not understand and battle with their father not being around even when it is for “the right” reasons. After every show I felt a huge burden lifted off my shoulders when audience members would approach me crying on how my piece moved them.
Hearing Dr. King’s Quotes like, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity” reminds me that in order for us to see a change in the world we must want change for all of us. The world is bigger then MYself, MY family, MY community. In order for all those My’s to become better, collectively, WE must stand together to make a change.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.