Martin Luther King Jr.Each January, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe marks the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the national MLK holiday with a celebration. Written and adapted by WBTT Founder & Artistic Director Nate Jacobs and Rev. Charles S. McKenzie Jr., the event features songs and dances by WBTT performers and Stage of Discovery students, as well as excerpts from Dr. King’s speeches.

Rev. McKenzie’s soaring oratory matches the spirit and cadence of Dr. King’s historic words that stirred a nation — from his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington to the moving “mountaintop” speech he gave before his assassination in Memphis in 1968.

Community Foundataion of Sarasota
Bar Association Council of Sarasota

This year, WBTT had planned to present its traditional in-person performance. However, due to current COVID-19 conditions in our community, we are again going virtual this year.

Thanks to generous sponsors, we are pleased to honor Dr. King with a video of our 2020 celebration, presented free as a community service. (Last year we streamed a video of our 2019 celebration). This year’s video includes new introductions by WBTT Founder & Artistic Director Nate Jacobs, WBTT Executive Director Julie Leach, Community Foundation of Sarasota County President & CEO Roxie Jerde, and Sarasota County Bar Association Council for Diversity and Inclusion Chair Ilyas Sayeg.

At the end of the video as a special treat following the performance, Nate interviews Rev. Charles S. McKenzie Jr., who delivers Dr. King’s eloquent words as part of our celebration each year.

Special thanks to the John J. Clopine Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, our Lead Sponsor, and the Sarasota County Bar Association Council for Diversity and Inclusion, our Collaborating Sponsor, for sponsoring this encore video presentation, Dr Martin Luther King Jr: Celebrating His Legacy in Spoken Word and Song. We believe it will move and inspire you!

NOTE: The video runs 1 hour and 48 minutes and can be viewed now through January 31, 2022. Click on the CC icon at the lower right of the video window for captions. Enjoy!




We hope you enjoyed the celebration of Dr. King’s life and legacy. We could not present these free and low-cost events and fulfill our mission of producing professional theatre that promotes and celebrates African American history and experience, engages a broad base of patrons and audiences, supports the development of a dynamic group of aspiring artists and builds self-esteem in youth of color without the support of our sponsors.

If you are interested in supporting WBTT, CLICK HERE to learn more.


MLK Student Essay Winners

As part of our annual Martin Luther King Celebration, the Sarasota County Bar Association Council for Diversity and Inclusion sponsors the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Essay Contest. The winners are celebrated at our celebration each January. This year, all three winners are Booker High School Law Academy students.

Laila Ward

This year’s WBTT MLK Celebration video features Laila Ward reading her deeply moving and personal first-place essay, entitled “Family Self-Purification.”

Sofia Santiago Espinet

The second-place essayist is Sofia Santiago Espinet. Sofia wrote her essay about the importance of embracing diversity as a way to overcome obstacles and succeed in life.

Emily Ramos-De La Cruz

The third-place essayist is Emily Ramos-De La Cruz. Emily wrote her essay about the efforts of Malala Yousefzai and Mother Teresa to promote justice in the world.

Congratulations to the 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest winners!

We hope to be able to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy with all of you in person in 2022, but we’re glad we are able to celebrate via video this year. Here are some photos of the 2020 celebration we feature in the streaming video.

Thank you for visiting this web page and watching the video! We hope the video, the essays and the life and legacy of Dr. King inspire you to do your part to foster the values of diversity, inclusion, justice and peace.


Photo Gallery

Video by Bill Wagy Productions and James Berry Films
Photos by Sorcha Augustine