Centerstage will partner with Cumberland University for the special, two-night-only community outreach event during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. “The Meeting,” by Jeff Stetson, is a dramatic, fictional account of a meeting between King and fellow civil rights leader Malcolm X.
The two men offered different approaches and philosophies to achieve equality, and “The Meeting” explores those differences.
Wharton, a Lebanon native, was elected as the first African-American mayor of Shelby County in 2002 before becoming Memphis mayor in 2009, where he served until 2015.
Centerstage co-founder Mitchell Vantrease said a portion of the proceeds from the shows would go to the the AC Wharton Family Scholarship fund at Cumberland University. The scholarship, established in 1989, honors Mary and AC Wharton Sr. and is awarded to an incoming freshman from Wilson County who majors in business and needs financial support.
“He can definitely give some insight about Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X’s legacy. Being the former mayor of Memphis, he can discuss the impact King had on the city,” Vantrease said.
This year will mark the 50th anniversary of King’s death April 4, 1968 after he was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The former motel is now home to the National Civil Rights Museum, which will lead a celebration of King’s life with events scheduled in Memphis and throughout the country.
Vantrease will direct “The Meeting,” which will star Thomas Tapley as King, Jared Dalton as Malcolm X and Johnnie Newsom as Rashad, Malcolm X’s bodyguard.
The event is set for Jan. 12-13 at 7:30 p.m. at Cumberland’s Heydel Fine Arts Center on campus.
Admission is $15. Tickets are available at Iddy and Oscar’s on the Lebanon Square or at brownpapertickets.com.
For more information on the center’s events, visit mlk50.civilrightsmuseum.org.