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Landmark King Speech, 'I Have a Dream,' to be Re-enacted by Juniata Students

(Posted January 7, 2008)

Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his seminal "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The stirring message entwined in Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" will be re-created and slightly re-interpreted by Juniata College students at a re-enactment of King's seminal Aug. 28. 1963 speech at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 17 in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts on the Juniata campus.

The performance is free and open to the public.

Although one man gave the "I Have a Dream," speech, Juniata is giving King's words, spoken on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, many voices as six students will deliver portions of the historic address. The students reciting the speech were all enrolled in "Great Orations," a fall-semester course taught by Grace Fala, professor of communication, that studies and dissects great speeches from history. Students in the course are required to re-create a speech from the past as a final project. Last semester, the six students who are reciting the King speech also delivered a similar performance at schools in State College, Pa. and Huntingdon, Pa.

"One of the questions we asked in the course is 'What moves (people) in a movement,' and the King speech is the perfect example of that," says Fala. "I think what makes this re-enactment unique is the 'polyphonic' nature of it. Six students will share various excerpts of it, and on occasion, they will all speak in unison."

Fala, whose area of expertise is public speaking and rhetoric, revived in fall semester Great Orations, a course she last taught in the early 1990s that gives students the opportunity to study and deliver historic speeches. Each student is expected to re-create a speech from such celebrated orators as Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Martin Luther King Jr., Ida B. Wells, Ronald Reagan and Sojourner Truth.

"I think what makes this re-enactment unique is the 'polyphonic' nature of it. Six students will share various excerpts of it, and on occasion, they will all speak in unison."
Grace Fala, professor of communication

"This course teaches students that they can be agents of change if they need to be," says Fala, who also sponsors Juniata's annual Soapbox Speeches. "The students learn how a single speech can make a difference. I'd like them to be active participants in society rather than passive recipients because they need to be part of the world (around them)."

The students participating in the Martin Luther King "I Have a Dream" re-enactment are as follows:

--Amanda Rose Albanese is a senior from Hampton, N.J. studying communication and business. She is a Juniata softball athlete and president of SPEAK, the communication student club.

--Sammar Barakat, an international student from Basra, Iraq studying communication, is a member of the Muslim Student Association and the International Club.

--Kasey Brough, a senior from Gardens, Pa. studying communication, is the captain of the Juniata swim team.

--Marci Chamberlain is a sophomore from Williamsburg, Pa. studying communication and performing arts. She is a member of the Concert Choir, Juniata Theatre and the college Percussion Ensemble.

--Jean-Denis Couillard, a senior studying in human sexuality from Milton, Vt., is an officer in the student clubs Plexus and AWOL.

--Amber Thomas, a junior from Ephrata, Pa. studying communication, is an All-America volleyball player and AVCA Division III Player of the Year.


Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.