This past Monday, I had the pleasure of attending a Martin Luther King day celebration at SPASH, and was pleasantly surprised by the moving presentation given by Patrick Sims. I’m not going to lie, I was feeling sort of sluggish that day and debated whether or not I wanted to go; but I’m glad I did.
I didn’t really know what to expect because first of all, I had never been in this auditorium, secondly, I wasn’t sure what the style of the presentation would be like. The annual celebration began with a series of short introductions, an award presentation for the John Klismet Justiceworks Award, and a few beautiful, musical performances by the SPASH choir and Monteverde Master Chorale. Once again, I’ll be honest, I was getting anxious because I wanted to hear the main speaker! With an auditorium that full, I knew it had to be good.
Patrick Sims had a great introduction and used humor to make the audience comfortable with him, which it did. This was a great way to start, because he knew that the subject matter was about to get very serious–so he wanted to make sure that the audience was comfortable and aware. The presentation began with a moving interpretation of a song, “I believe in God”, which gave me chills. Patrick began singing along, so beautifully that I thought it was part of the recording until he first spoke. His speech, “10 Perfect” was about a civil right’s leader named James Cameron, “who survived a lynching as a young man and later founded America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.” according to the program from the event. Upon looking up information on the museum, I was saddened to learn that it has been temporarily closed since 2008 due to financial reasons.
I was impressed by Patrick’s acting skills. He had the power to show a clear vocal and gestural difference between each and every character of Cameron’s story. The pace was perfect, and changed for each character as well, which made the conversations more realistic. The use of visuals and media was great. I really liked how songs would start up throughout the speech–I feel that it made it even more moving. It was obvious that he had practiced this countless times, but I was really impressed by his timing in relation to the media he had in the presentation. There were a series of gun shots at one point, and they matched up perfectly to his speech. This was just another aspect of his presentation that made it come to life. He made a great connection with the audience at the end, saying, “This is just as much your story as it is mine.” His performance was wonderful, and the only thing that I would say I noticed he could work on, is to not use as many gestures. I found them a bit distracting after a while. But other than that, this was a magnificent performance, and I am very glad that I chose to attend.