Artist’s Series Presents “We Are the Dream” for MLK Day


Victoria Ware, Reporter

The Marshall Artists Series presented a screening of the film “We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest” on Thursday at the Keith Albee Preforming Arts Center in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

“We Are the Dream” (2020) is an HBO original documentary directed by Amy Schatz (8-time Emmy Award winning director/producer) and produced by Mahershala Ali (2-time Academy Award winning actor). It follows school children in pre-K through twelfth grade from Oakland, California as they compete in an oratorical competition in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The children perform poetry and speeches that relate to Dr. King’s teachings on equality and justice. The movie documents the whole process of the annual competition, including the immense practice done by the children and the different stages of competing (semifinals, finals, etc.). 

The film focuses on topics like racial discrimination, xenophobia, and overall inequality from the perspective of children. It showcases the power that words hold and their ability to spark change. 

A defining quote in the film comes from principal Zarina Ahmad when she says, “Dr. Martin Luther King was a freedom fighter by using his words. He was able to change a nation by being able to just speak. And I feel that it empowers the students to have a voice.” 

The amount of people in attendance at the screening was relatively low, something to be expected during the era of COVID-19. However, those in attendance actively engaged with the film. During the more humorous parts of the film, people could be heard laughing and making asides to one another. Some members of the even audience applauded during a particularly riveting recitation of Dr. King’s speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” by ten-year-old Gregory Payton. This applause was outmatched once the movie ended and everyone in attendance gave the film an enthusiastic ovation.