UA Presents “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

Students will play key roles in the performance

FEAT_Through the DoorsFrom the October 2013 Desktop News In April 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sat in a jail cell in Birmingham, writing a letter that would become one of the most famous documents of the civil rights movement. Fifty years later, opera theatre students from the College of Arts and Sciences’ School of Music, in partnership with Red Mountain Theatre Company of Birmingham (RMTC), will bring his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” to life.

The performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Morgan Auditorium on Monday, Oct. 14. Admission is free but tickets are required. Ticket reservations can be made via

In writing the letter, Dr. King was responding to eight white clergymen who criticized his presence in Birmingham and accused him of bringing unnecessary chaos to the city. In response, Dr. King famously stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In this dramatic interpretation of the events, students will play the eight clergymen and several other roles.

RMTC is marking the 50th anniversary of UA’s integration with 50 performances of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” across Alabama. At each location, RMTC actor Cecil Washington will play King and the host community will provide actors to play the eight clergymen. Following each performance, actors will conduct a question and answer session with the audience.

Students who will portray the clergymen at the UA performance are senior Bryant Bush of Mobile, who is pursuing a degree in vocal performance;  junior Gavin Dover of Birmingham, who is pursuing a degree in music education; graduate student Ryan Landis of Rapid City, S.D., who is pursuing a doctoral degree in vocal performance; sophomore Crawford Lindsay of Atlanta, Ga., who is pursuing a degree in music administration; freshman Andrew Livingston of Tuscaloosa, who is pursuing a degree in vocal performance; freshman Clay A. McCollum of West Point, Miss., who is pursuing a master’s degree in musicology; junior Andrew Nalley of Huntsville, who is pursuing a degree in vocal performance; and Russell Stephens of Huntsville, who is pursuing a master’s degree in musicology.

The event, sponsored by the College of Arts and Science’s Office of the Dean, is part of “Through the Doors,” a year-long series of activities and events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of The University of Alabama and honoring the courage and dedication of the two African-American students who enrolled in the University on June 11, 1963, as well as the University’s ongoing commitment to progress. For more information, visit