Jeremiah Dew reenacts Black history in METES event


Lianna Stewart

METES is a minority organization on campus that invited Jeremiah Dew to perform.

Most Americans would likely recognize this Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Though it is often viewed as a defining moment of the 20th century, few people are familiar with the rest of King’s speech.

At a Feb. 24 event hosted by Bob Jones University’s  Minorities Empowered to Educate and Serve (METES) student organization, BJU alumnus Jeremiah Dew performed comprehensive renditions of King’s “I Have a Dream” and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speeches for an audience in Levinson Hall  

The event, titled “One Voice”, was planned in honor of Black History Month. Jeremiah Dew stated on his website, “The best part about experiencing One Voice is that you, the audience member, are left to make your own judgments about where to take the message from here forward. It’s not a politicized experience. It’s an opportunity for all of us to ask, ‘What can I do with my own voice to make a difference where it’s needed in our world from now on?’” 

Since graduating with a degree in mass communication from BJU in 2007, Dew has “entertained over three million people at live events.” Dew debuted One Voice in 2011. Since then he has added new historical characters, speeches and video interviews. A presentation with all his characters and content would be too long for most speaking opportunities, so Dew generally selects limited content for each occasion. 

On Feb. 24, Dew’s multimedia presentation focused on the two noteworthy King speeches and a video interview with Cecil Williams, a man who witnessed an event known as the Orangeburg Massacre Feb. 8, 1968. That night, during a heated confrontation on the South Carolina State University campus, police officers fired on civil rights protesters, killing three young African American men and injuring 28 others. Some details of this tragic event have been disputed, including officers saying they believed they were being fired upon and protestors saying no one fired at the officers. 

Abigail Bergmann, a sophomore political science major and METES officer, described Dew’s portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr.: “You can almost be imagining listening to it then and understanding what everyone was going through at that time and how he was talking to them and trying to get them to have a solution.”

Bergmann linked King’s approach to ways Christians can respond to injustice today, such as conversations, speeches and nonviolent protests. “There’s a way to do it just by talking to people and by standing up for what you believe in, in a nonviolent way.” 

Ryan Parimi, a senior English major and vice president of METES, said he was glad METES was able to host the event on campus. “I found it very nice to get the fuller context of a lot of the speeches,” Parimi explained. “Being immersed in an experience like that, it’s another type of learning that I wish more people would take advantage of and that I think we need more of at the University.” 

“It really is very thought-provoking to hear the different views,” said Johnny Pierre, a junior international studies major and president of METES. “I’ve listened to little smidgets of Martin Luther King’s speeches, but hearing the whole thing from another person reenacting that — that was awesome.”