By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Dell Music Center (formerly known as the Robin Hood Dell East) is teaming up with the School District of Philadelphia to host its first dramatic stage play ever.
The play is a fictional account of a meeting between civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
They had conflicting ideologies. King wanted to end segregation through nonviolent protest. And Malcolm X preferred segregation but demanded an end to race inequality — by any means necessary.
“The Meeting,” an award-winning play written by Jeff Stetson, tells of how these two champions of civil rights might have discovered common ground.
“What would they have discussed? Would they be able to bridge the gap between the differences that they had?” wonders Tariq El-Shabazz, a Philadelphia attorney and leader in the city’s Islamic community.
He stars as Malcolm X in “The Meeting,” alongside Dr. Allan Waller, pastor of Enon Tabernacle Church, as Dr. King.
El-Shabazz says the his purpose in taking the stage is to help teach young people about black history.
“If you talk about Malcolm, he hated white people and called them ‘devil,’ ” El-Shabazz notes. “There was an aspect of that, but he was much more than that. If you talk about King, he said, ‘Turn the other cheek,’ and that was it. But he was more than that, and we have an opportunity to expose it.”
El-Shabazz says he also hopes the play will bring Philadelphia’s black Christian and black Islamic communities together.
“We have joint issues,” says El-Shabazz. “We have the issues of unemployment and crime, violence in the neighborhood. We don’t have to worship together to effectuate change.”
The one-time performance takes place this Saturday at 8pm, at the Dell Music Center. For more information and tickets, go to mydelleast.com.