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Springfield residents got a chance this week to be transported back to a time when America was plagued by division based on a person’s skin color. Actor Jim Lucas gave a dramatic presentation of selected speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Before his presentation at Drury University, Lucas spoke to KSMU’s Jennifer Moore about his life’s mission to eradicate racism.
A full house greeted Lucas at Drury’s Clara Thompson Hall Thursday morning. He took to the podium and began with a quote from Dr. King.
"If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain."
Lucas took a minute to talk to me right before his presentation about Dr. King’s dream, and why he has devoted his life to preserving it.
"I believe that Dr. King did more to change the political, economical, and social landscape of this country than any one individual in history," Lucas said. He believes it is important to keep the things Dr. King did in the forefront. He cited a recent survey of high school students, in which 73% of the students thought that Dr. King freed the slaves.
[Sound of presentation: "There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair."]
Moore: "You have researched Dr. King's life. Do you think that he would be pleased with how far our country has come regarding racism and desegregation, or do you think he would be disappointed in how far we have yet to go?"
"There are many issues that minorities, not just blacks, but minorities of all race, creeds and color, that are affected today, many issues that they must confront. I think he'd be pleased with everything that we've done, where we've come, and we must admit that. But I think he'd also say we still have a long way to go," Lucas said.
Moore: "My generation grew up only reading about a woman on a bus, and the Civil Rights Movement. Many of us grew up "color blind," or "color neutral." But it's obviously still out there, so how do you raise a child to be "color blind?"
"It all happens at home," Lucas said. "[It's] in the types of jokes that we tell at home, the type of things that we talk about at home, and the emphasis that we put on issues at home. That is where, in those early years, those formative years, we as a people, and children, get their grounding, their bearings."
Moore: "Jim Lucas, thank you very much."
Lucas: "It's been my pleasure, Ms. Moore."
[Sound of presentation: "I hope, dear sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience..."]
He read excerpts from the letter King wrote from his jail cell in Birmingham. He gave a chronology of the civil rights leader’s life.
The most captivating point in his presentation was his dramatic performance of Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, given from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of 200,000 supporters in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963.
[Sound of presentation: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."]
We leave you with the voices of these two men – Jim Lucas and the original recording of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – both of whom dedicated their lives to the common goal of eradicating racism in these United States.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.
[Sounds of Lucas and King: "...sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today."]