by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — A provocative, one-act play imagining a meeting between 1960s civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and African American activist Malcolm X, brought Peterson Airmen to their feet.
The play, “The Meeting,” is a fictitious account of what might have been said between two American archetypes if they ever met face to face. The play, which has toured the country for nearly 20 years, was brought to Peterson Air Force Base Jan. 13, by the special observance committee for the 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Day, celebrated nationally Jan. 18.
“We wanted to bring a message to the Peterson community and have it in a more intimate atmosphere,” said Staff Sgt. Tenea Basinger, 21st Dental Squadron dental technician, who chaired the committee that hosted the event. “I believe the play will leave a lasting impression on everyone.”
The play’s strength is the audience’s familiarity with its main characters, Dr. King and Malcolm X. This allows the dialogue to move into a deeper place, with each character discussing why his tactics in the 1960s movement for racial equality are best. Dr. King’s approach was peaceful with him saying to his adversaries that no matter how hard or long they beat African Americans, “we will still love you.” In contrast, Malcolm X pushed back saying to Dr. King, “If you see a man with a rock, you seek to comfort him. If I see a man with a rock, I seek to stop him.”
“The Meeting,” written and produced by Washington, D.C.-based company Pin Points Theatre, also shows each man’s sense of humor, his fear, anger and vulnerability. In the performance, both Dr. King and Malcolm X express fear over the future and worry about their own deaths.
“These men were human – they were not everything the media portrayed them to be,” said actor Shelby Wallace, who played Dr. King. “Both movements were really necessary in order to take us to where we are today.”