In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, a group of sixth graders from Clear Stream Avenue School performed a short play entitled “We Shall Overcome” for students in grades 4-6 on Jan. 22. The play, written by Mack Lewis, spotlighted the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963 and featured Dr. King, played by Clear Stream Avenue sixth grader Mishal Jabed.
Clear Stream Avenue Principal John Singleton provided some background for the audience before the performance began. He told the students that during the Civil Rights Movement there were marches run by students their age who felt that it was imperative for them to march so that they could have freedom and the same rights as everyone else. The casting for the play was done with purpose, having a female take on the important role of Dr. King.
“For this particular play we decided to have a young lady from Pakistan play Dr. Martin Luther King,” said Mr. Singleton. “Our belief is that Dr. King’s message is universal, and his dream should apply to all people and all cultures. We’re hoping that her portrayal of Dr. King inspires students today.”
In addition to playing Dr. King, sixth graders were casted as students, marchers, police, firefighters, reverends, reporters and a teacher. They painted the scene of Birmingham in 1963 when Dr. King encouraged students to go out and march to end segregation. Throughout the play, audience members learned that children who participated in these non-violent marches were jailed and even hit with fire hoses. The sixth graders marched with signs while singing “We Shall Overcome,” not letting anything or anyone stand in their way of freedom.
Jennifer Lewner, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Stirling attended the play and applauded the sixth grade performers on a job well done.
“This year in the school district our theme is ‘Lift Every Voice’ and especially around this holiday it’s a reminder that each one of your voices counts,” he told students. “Use your voice to make a difference, use your voice to help others and use your voice to make the world a better place because you can.”