Originally created 01/19/98

One-man show honors King



AIKEN -- Paul Anderson on Sunday turned the Etherredge Center of the University of South Carolina-Aiken into a panorama of black American history in celebration of the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Expectations of Triumph, a one-man drama starring Mr. Anderson, was also directed and produced by the screen and television actor.

Sponsored by the USC-Aiken African-American Student Association on the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the drama placed Dr. King at the pinnacle of the black struggle for full citizenship.

It began with an old spiritual sung by a slave and progressed through orator Frederick Douglass and actor-singer Paul Robeson to the balcony in Memphis, Tenn., where the civil rights leader was assassinated.

For each historical interlude, Mr. Anderson transformed himself before the audience. The slave, Kujumu, dressed in tattered trousers, crouched on the ground, wailing, "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child."

The transition to Frederick Douglass was made through the use of a flame encased in glass and lifted high. With ease, Mr. Anderson became Douglass in white wig and frock coat, delivering an ironic Fourth of July speech while his followers remained locked in slavery.

Then the flame is passed to actor-singer Robeson in the robes of Othello performing one of his most famous roles and decrying the McCarthyism of the 1950s that kept him from earning a living.

But it was clearly Mr. Anderson's performance as Dr. King that struck the chord closest to the audience's hearts. In quality and cadence remarkably like the voice of the great orator, Mr. Anderson proclaimed an "audacious faith in the future of mankind."

In a shocking and sobering finale, however, the Etherredge Center stage was rocketed to Memphis when three shots rang out from the audience and the actor fell, simulating the death of the civil rights leader. But in the end, the flame is passed to a waiting member of the audience to carry into the future.

Mr. Anderson's vibrant baritone voice was the vehicle that brought these historical personages to life. His tribute to these heroes of the past comes at the beginning of a year that marks the 30th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination.

In 1968, the civil rights leader was planning another march on Washington similar to the one that made history five years earlier with his now famous "I have a dream" speech, moving the conscience of a nation. This time the march was to be a multiracial poor people's march and a cry for an "Economic Bill of Rights."

In that spirit, Dr. King went to Memphis to lend support to striking sanitation workers. There, on April 4, he was killed by an assassin's bullet.

Holiday closings

Schools, government offices and most banks will be closed today in observance of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, a state and federal holiday:

Federal and state offices will be closed, as well as most city and county government offices.

Aiken City Hall will be open.Augusta Public Transit will not offer bus service. Regular bus service will resume Tuesday.

Other closings include public schools in Aiken, Columbia and Richmond, Medical College of Georgia, Paine College, Augusta State University.Libraries in Columbia, Richmond and Aiken counties will be open today.

King events

The Rev. Martin Luther King's birthday was Thursday, but the holiday commemorating the slain civil rights leader's birth is being observed Monday.

Here's a list of some local events:

Black History Workshop, presented by The Augusta Chronicle, from 10 a.m. to noon Monday in the Morris Auditorium, News Building at 725 Broad St. Speakers will be Christine Betts, curator of the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, and Rosalind Cool, a ventriloquist and puppeteer. Registration is $6.50 and may be mailed to The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903, Attention: Heather Young. For more information, call 823-3622.

The NAACP's 24th annual Freedom Fund Banquet, at 7 p.m. Monday in Pullman Hall. Dr. James Carter III will speak on "And Still We Rise." A raffle will be held at 9:30 p.m.

Dr. Martin Luther King annual service, at 11 a.m. Monday, at Broadway Baptist Church, 2323 Barton Chapel Road. Keynote speaker will be the Rev. Otis Moss.

First Annual Unity Breakfast, sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, at 7:30 a.m. Monday at Sheraton Hotel Augusta, Wheeler Road. Keynote speaker will be Judge John H. Ruffin. For information, call 796-3117 or 793-6638

Annual King parade, at 1 p.m. Monday, beginning at Laney-Walker Boulevard at Lucy Laney High School.

A Call for Love, Unity and Service, 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2, at Whole Life Ministries, Washington Road. For information, call 724-6172, 826-1961 or 821-7803