As far as we know, the only time Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X met was a brief greeting in passing outside a courthouse in 1965.
But if they had ever had a conversation, what would it have been like? That premise is the basis of Jeff Stetson’s “The Meeting,” currently being performed by the St. Louis Black Repertory Company.
In the play, Malcolm X (played by Ka’ramuu Kush) invites Dr. King (Matthew Galbreath) to a meeting in a Harlem hotel room, where the two men debate the best methods of obtaining racial equality.
“[Malcolm X] maintains that nobody ever got their freedom from singing. They got it from swinging….You can’t be a man if you’re going to allow someone to abuse your wife, abuse your children, abuse your family, abuse your people,” Kush said.
King, on the other hand was “standing on the fact that violence never stops violence,” Galbreath said.
Originally, Dr. King may have had a more universal outlook on civil rights while Malcolm X had a more separatist, narrow goal of justice for black Americans. But by the time the play's hypothetical meeting took place, Malcolm had changed, said Black Rep founder and the play's director Ron Himes.
“The play is actually set after Malcolm had gone to Mecca. And so Malcolm had had a personal transformation, had changed a lot of the Malcolm X that was portrayed – the militant, the separatist. Malcolm had become more of a person who was universal in his approach to solving society’s ills,” Himes said.
Still, said Kush, “What Malcolm was espousing was more of a secular agenda. And King was more so an ethereal agenda, of the spirit, of doing what’s best for your spirit.”
The Black Rep Presents Jeff Stetson's "The Meeting"
January 8 - 26, 2014
Thursdays at 7:00 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.
Sundays at 3:00 p.m.
Harris Stowe State University's Emerson Performance Center, 3101 Laclede Ave.
For more information, call 314-534-3810 or visit The Black Rep website.
Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer, hosted by Steve Potter and funded in part by the the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.