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Midstate playwright honors Martin Luther King

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People visit the illuminated Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on a rainy evening, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Washington. Rain fell throughout the day and is predicted to continue through Wednesday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Middletown) — A number of activities are taking place to mark the observance of Martin Luther King day, including an original production from a midstate playwright.

A former slave on a 40-year search for his mother is at the heart of “Tell Mama I’ll Find Her,” written by assistant professor of Sociology at Penn State Harrisburg Dorothy King.

“I knew that husbands looked for wives and mothers looked for children, but I didn’t really know how they went about doing it and I really didn’t know to what extent people went to find their loved ones,” she says. I thought it was interesting. I wanted to explore that more and that’s how this came about.”

King, no relation to the late civil rights leader, says she was first approached by Penn State 18 years ago.

“We wrote a play called, Harrisburg Proud. The next year, they came to us and said, ‘Well, you are coming back again, aren’t you?'” She chuckled. “We said, ‘Sure.’ So, we came back a second year and we’ve been coming back for the last 18 years.”

King says through her work and extensive research she seeks to accurately portray the struggles and triumphs of the African-American family, while also bridging the gap between black history and American history.

“I think that there is some what I might call questionable theatre out there or questionable movies or TV shows about the black experience and I am committed to showing positive examples of black families,” she says.

The play, “Tell Mama I’ll Find Her” will be presented at Penn State Harrisburg at 12:00 p.m. today, and 11:30 a.m. tomorrow.

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