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Monday, August 29, 2011

MLK National Memorial Dedication Tribute Program "MLK: A Monumental Life"



On Friday August 26, 2011 Alpha Phi Alpha presented a historical tribute program for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s national memorial dedication. Although the weather in Washington, DC was unpredictable, the Gold Carpet was undoubtedly fabulous. Faith, Rochelle and  their team (Isiah, Pam, Stephanie Abdullah, and others) were gracious in greeting all of the media and VIP attendees and of course the fabulous Toni Thompson made sure the carpet ran without a noticeable hitch...in a floor length gold dress nonetheless!

L-R Toni Thompson, Rochell Hill, Isiah Donaldson
While some events were cancelled given by other organizations, this particular tribute program at the Dar Constitution Hall given by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was not one of them. Everyone was excited about the purpose of the event, many even having a loss for words as to what that day really meant to them. Some could remember where they were the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., gave his "I have a dream" speech, and marveled at the correlation between where the speech was given, and where his physical memorial has been place for an eternity.
Nate Parker and David Oyelowo
Participants for this program included a large group of VIP participants such as Terrence Howard, Hill Harper, Della Reese, Phylicia Rashad, Victoria Rowell, Tramaine Hawkins, Kenny Lattimore, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Cuba Gooding Jr., Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Jasmine Guy, Micahel T., Lalah Hathaway, Clifton Davis, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Ann Nesby, Fonzworth Bentley, and many others.



The program was a beautiful mix of narration, skits, dance and musical performances that encapsulated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from birth to death. Dr King's story was literally brought to life with the energy of the program having extreme emotional highs including Tramaine Hawkin's performance of "A Change," to emotional heaviness with Bernadette Stanis' narration of the accounts of Emit Till and how that affected the civil rights movement. Some of the songs performed with skits and dances included "Freedom," "Tired," and "Guide My Feet While I Run This Race." All of the musical selections were performed live, with a full orchestra. All dances routines were performed with precision. When, "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around," was performed, it stuck a chord within my heart. I could feel the struggle, the pain and despair being conveyed, and yet there was evidence of the hope and determinations in the spirits of that group of people to keep on going...no matter what.

Occasionally I enjoy parts of a program, and rarely enjoy the majority of a program. However, this particular tribute, "MLK: A Monumental Life," given by the men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was historically the best program I have ever experienced. I was captivated from beginning to end...and this was a long show, upwards of 4 hours. And while it was lengthy in time, every moment of this tribute was amazing...absolutely amazing. I was not alive when Dr. King gave his infamous "I Have a Dream" speech. I was not old enough to understand what was happening when the concept of the Dr. King memorial was initiated by the men of Alpha Phi Alpha in 1984. However, on August 26, 2011 inside the walls of Constitution Hall, I became one with Dr. King's legacy, his memorial and his dream, and will never be the same from this day forward. Thank you Dr. King for fulfilling your purpose in life. I am honored to have been a part of this historical event. 

Story By: Neeta Wooten
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