KING: in Concert – A review

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This year marks 50 years since Martin Luther King  Jr was assassinated. Late composer and actor Martin Smith debuted his musical, King, in the Prince Edward Theatre, 1988.

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Here I am featured with my copy of the show’s program.

The show highlighted the life of Martin Luther King and was performed for one night only. An independent theatre in Hackney, Hackney Empire, and director, Susie McKenna, brought this shelved show to life in a special two-day showing – June 30th and July 1st.

The show was advertised all over social media. As soon as I saw the above banner I was intrigued. I called my mum and asked if she would come with me. She was excited as I was. Initially, when booking the show, I did not realise it would be solely music (silly, I know, it does say concert in the title). When the conductor introduced the performance and announced there would be no props or acting, just a musical performance, my eyes shot up. I wondered how long it would be before I drifted to sleep. Nonetheless, once the music began, my eyes did not leave the stage. As the convert went on I started to get chills from the music – or at least I thought it was that, it also could have the cold Magners in my hand.

The performance featured a live orchestra (London Musical Theatre Orchestra), led by Freddie Tapner, a choir, individual singers, and a remarkable use of lighting; together they conveyed the story of Civil Rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr. Alongside King’s accomplishments and story, the issues African Americans suffered in the 20th century was illustrated ardently with the use of still images and real footage, such as the Selma to Montgomery March 1965, as well as clips of the Ku Klux Klan. Combined IMG_1750with harmonies, solo-performances, and instrumentals, the show told this exceptional man’s story in an exceptional way.

The cast consisted of main players in the Civil Rights Movement: MLK, Coretta King, Alberta King (Martin’s mother), Ed Nixon, Freedom Riders, Rosa Parks, President Kennedy, President Hoover, President Kennedy, and Stokeley Carmicheal. Alongside these positively noticeable names, were lesser favourable characters, for example, Bull Connor,  the Commissioner of Public Safety for the city of Birmingham, Alabama – this man opposed all Civil Rights activities taking place in his state and the rest of America.

The events featured in the show looked at exasperating parts of African American history.  Within the first act, the audience saw photographs of lynched men, an act that saw more than 300 men victim to in the state of Alabama from 1877 to 1943. Issues such as sexual harassment and assault of African American women by white men was addressed, alongside racial subjection, and the bombing of King’s home, with his wife and daughter inside, in 1956. Every song carried such emotion and it was impossible to not feel the pain carried by those who suffered through this awful period in time.

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Here the cast performed Shine On

This unique, captivating show left the audience enticed from beginning to end, inducing heart-rending emotions and lengthy applause. It is mind-boggling that this is not a West End show currently, as it more than deserves to be. To find out  more about this extraordinary concert visit Hackney Empire’s YouTube channel.

 

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We Remember: The Civil Rights Act of 1964

iToday to reflect on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, History student Abigael Fagbolagun has written a piece relating to the act itself and the beginning of the end to the long history of injustices suffered by African Americans.

Hi guys! So, today, the 2nd of July 2018 marks the 54th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This Act outlawed all racial discrimination in America, therefore nullifying Jim Crow in the workplace, public places, and integrated schools. This was a goal that the African American community and supporters had been working toward for years.

First, let me give you some background information. After the Emancipation of the enslaved, in 1865 after the American Civil War (woo, finally!), America saw the era of ‘Reconstruction’ from 1866-1877 that attempted to integrate African Americans into a society where they were free from enslavement. As the North won the war, you could say they forced this upon the South and they were not happy. Fast forward to the year of 1879, the North no longer had control of the South. We see the retaliation and repossession of power through the legalising of racial inequality. From these events, the fight for civil rights strengthened. The aim was to end the injustices that burdened the lives of African Americans.

We see 1955 to 1965 being called the years of the Civil Rights Movement. During this movement, we see many rising and taking a stand against racial inequality. Some examples of these courageous figures include Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and Fannie Lou Hamer. We cannot forget Rev. Martin Luther King, , King achieved something millions of African Americans thought impossible. Many events led to this success, from the small grassroot protests, like the Greensboro sit-ins, 1961, to the larger protest that received national attention, for example the March on Washington, 1963. As you would expect, 62204-004-06647584there was opposition from the Senate, but even after groups protesting to prevent the bill from passing, President Johnson signed the Act in The White House on the 2nd of July 1964. This meant different things for different people: for a youngster, this meant the possibility of going to a better-equipped school that was desegregated; for an adult desperately trying to find work, this meant knowing that legally their race should not be an issue in employment. It would now be hyperbole to suggest that effect was immediate and African Americans were still treated unfairly. However, we see it giving the masses hope, as they continued rallying, which led to the Voting Right Act and Fair Housing Act being passed in the latter years of the CRM. Rev. C.T Vivian believed these acts brought a new sense of freedom. He said “what you couldn’t do, you could now do. What your children were never gonna be able to do, they can now do and are doing.’’

I love this History because although it can be saddening, it highlights the success of The Era. It reminds us of the young people’s energy, it reminds you of that old man, who was willing to walk from Selma to Montgomery to rally for the rights of his people. It reminds me of the unity between African American and White Americans who stood together to dismantle the power of racism.

uYep, we still have a long way to go in term of true racial equality in America, and the rest of the world, but let’s take one step at a time and rejoice with every success. Let us not forget those who lost their lives during this fight. We thank you.

Let us keep fighting for racial equality so that, like Martin Luther King, we will be able to scream “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last’’.

Go Green Week!

So thglobal-303172is week is Go Green Week! We’ve already had everything from a Post-code coffee morning, Make a green Chinese New Year’s resolution, the Big bike sale and Dr. Bike to Green Games and an SU Swap Shop. So far this week has been pretty amazing!

The History Department is even getting involved in Go Green Week! We’re hosting a Stationary Amnesty where all of the staff have to return the stationary they’ve borrowed to stop the department from getting more which they don’t need. We’re also getting some thermometers for their offices to ensure that we’re keeping the radiators down.

Still to come this week is a Transport Stall, Waste Electrical items Amnestry, Lunch time bike ride, Film showing of Cowspiracy, Meat-free Friday, and Prizes for cyclists!

You can find out more about Green Week here

Tweet the History Department about what you’ve been getting up to in Go Green Week, even if it’s something as simple as putting your recycling out for collection or walking to campus!

Love Rosie x