Students to ‘become’ MLK



Feb. 29 will be a special day for Daytona Times Publisher Charles W. Cherry II.

“For the last two years, I’ve been trying to work with local organizations to put on a live production featuring speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., performed by local people in front of a live audience,” Cherry explained.

“For various reasons, it didn’t happen. So I decided to do it myself.”

Daytona Times Publisher Charles W. Cherry II is practicing MLK speeches with Campbell Middle School eighth-graders Yakira Moore, left, and Demond Noelien, right. PHOTO: CASSANDRA KITTLES/DAYTONA TIMES

The Daytona Times is the presenting sponsor of a spoken word event entitled, “The Trumpet of Conscience: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Speaks,” featuring five of Dr. King’s most powerful speeches, and relevant music performed by a local children’s choir. Cherry’s media-buying agency, 623 Management, Inc., is a cosponsor.

The event will happen on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 5 p.m., at Master’s Domain Church of God in Christ, 511 Fremont Ave., Daytona Beach, where Derrick Harris is the pastor.

Masterful oratory

According to Cherry, the best part of the project is listening to Dr. King’s voice constantly and getting intimately familiar with each speech.

“Dr. King is one of the best writers and speakers in world history,” Cherry exclaimed. “And that is not overstating the case.

“His use of imagery and his mastery of the English language is phenomenal. The phrasing, tone, control, and dramatic effect of his voice in his speeches, particularly in his Sunday sermons, is astounding.

“As a pastor of historic Black churches in Montgomery, Alabama and in Atlanta, he had to speak effectively to people in his congregations with no formal education, as well as to college and university instructors and highly educated professionals. It was a challenge he met every Sunday.”

Campbell spotlighted

Two students from Campbell Middle School will be featured.

Demond Noelien will perform the speech King gave at the end of a long and dangerous nonviolent mass march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery. Demond, an eighth grader, is the son of Antoinette and Demond Noelien.

Yakira Moore, also an eighth grader, will perform King’s most widely-known speech, “I Have A Dream.” She is the daughter of Laurie McNeil.

Cherry will perform “The Drum Major Instinct,” King’s last regular Sunday morning sermon at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta. King was murdered in Memphis, Tenn., exactly one month later.

“Letter from Birmingham Jail” and “I’ve Been To The Mountaintop” will be performed by two Bethune-Cookman University students.

Upon further review

At first, Cherry was going to use ministers and experienced speakers for the project.

“I spoke to some friends. They strongly suggested that I use young people, including young women, instead. A light bulb went off in my head and I decided to use all youth, including the choir. And we will feature two female students as a tribute to the thousands of Black women, many of them unrecognized, who were the backbone of the civil rights movement.

“Narrator Larry Steele and I will be the only people in the production with gray hair on their head,” Cherry grinned. “But without the cooperation of the parents, the great staff at Campbell Middle who are all-in, and the willingness of the students to work hard to become Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for this performance, none of this happens.”

Admission is free. Sponsorships are still available. Call Cherry at 813-267-7342 for further information.




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