UA Announces 2019 Realizing the Dream Schedule

By Diane Kennedy-Jackson
Publications Coordinator

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Pastor Marvin Sapp, award-winning Gospel singer and songwriter, will be the featured performer for the 2019 Realizing the Dream Concert Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. at The University of Alabama’s (UA) Moody Music Concert Hall. Journalist and author Byron Pitts, co-anchor of ABC’s “Nightline” and author of two books, will be the Legacy Awards Banquet speaker. The banquet will take place Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, at 6:30 p.m. in the Bryant Conference Center Sellers Auditorium, also on campus.

“Realizing the Dream, Inspiring and Encouraging Others” is the theme for 2019 events celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which are hosted by UA, Stillman College, Shelton State Community College and the Tuscaloosa branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

In addition to delivering musical comfort to his fan base, Sapp, a 10-time Grammy winner, leads Lighthouse Full Life Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his hometown. The recipient of 22 Stellar Awards, two Soul Train Music Awards, two BET Awards, two Dove Awards and eight BMI Songwriter’s Awards, Sapp is renowned for songs such as “Sweeter as the Days Go By,” “Perfect Peace,” “Praise Him in Advance,” “The Best in Me” and “My Testimony,” a dedication to his late wife MaLinda. His 11th album, “Close,” released in 2017, is his most personal album, sharing his faith journey through personal loss.

Pitts is a multiple Emmy award-winning journalist and former chief national correspondent for both ABC and CBS. He won an Emmy as CBS’ lead correspondent during the 9/11 attacks. With more than 20 years’ experience, Pitts has covered the war in Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, the military buildup in Kuwait and the refugee crisis in Kosovo, among others. He is the author of “Step Out on Nothing: How Family and Faith Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges” (2009) and “Be the One: Six True Stories of Teens Overcoming Hardship with Hope” (2017). His accomplishments are all the more impressive when one considers that he had a persistent stutter and was unable to read until the age of 12.

At the Legacy Banquet, Dr. Charles Steele Jr. will receive the Mountaintop Award, Steven D. Anderson will receive the Call to Conscience Award and Quinvarlio S. Kelly Jr. will receive the Horizon Award.

Steele is a two-time president and CEO of the national Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) — the first individual in the organization’s history to hold this position twice. A committed civil rights leader, Steele has served on both the Tuscaloosa City Council and in the Alabama State Senate. During his time as a city council member he organized the Unity Day Scholarship Fund and the Tuscaloosa Police Athletic League, as well as secured funds for the purchase of Palmore Park and Barrs’ Quarters (Charles Steele Estates), the first low-income, no down payment home ownership program in West Alabama. He organized the Tuscaloosa Drug Task Force and, after many years of effort, the Partners for a Drug Free Tuscaloosa County. As a state senator he played a key role in recruiting Mercedes-Benz to Tuscaloosa County and was instrumental in locating several other large manufacturers to Greene and Perry Counties. Steele has raised more than $10 million to support civil rights initiatives. He was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in January.

Anderson has served as Tuscaloosa’s police chief since 2008. He is known for his compassion for people, his commitment to equality and his willingness to do the right thing or take the moral high road regardless of the consequences. He earned his criminal justice degree from UA in 1993 and joined the Tuscaloosa Police Department (TPD) as a patrol officer in 1994. He has implemented programs such as the Citizens’ Police Academy, a TPD summer basketball camp and Teens and Police Services — all of which are designed to create strong, lasting, positive relationships between law enforcement officers and members of the community. He established new initiatives within the department aimed at reducing crime and the fear of crime in Tuscaloosa, and has promoted transparency and accountability by instituting the use of body-worn cameras, publishing an annual crime report and facilitating information sharing with the community and media through both traditional means and social media platforms. In addition to his professional role, he has been actively involved in numerous civic and community organizations, including the 100 Black Men of West Alabama, Inc., the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers, the Salvation Army Advisory Board and the Tuscaloosa Latino Coalition.

Kelly, a 2018 graduate of Stillman College, was recently named the first Stillman College Presidential Leadership Fellow. During his undergraduate career, he served in various leadership positions, including Student Government Association president. Kelly serves as a vocalist, instrumentalist and worship leader at the Nineteenth Street Pentecostal Church and at Plum Grove Baptist Church. He also serves as a board member for Child Abuse Prevention Services of Tuscaloosa and as leader of the Tuscaloosa Youth Chapter of the Alabama Democratic Conference. He is a member of the 2019 class of Leadership Tuscaloosa, Phi Beta Lambda business fraternity and 100 Black Men of West Alabama, Inc. Kelly plans to further his education by studying law and communications. Among his passions are education and service, and he hopes to serve in public office, eventually reaching the office of the president of the United States of America.

Realizing the Dream partner the SCLC will sponsor Unity Day activities beginning at 7 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, with the Unity Breakfast at Beulah Baptist Church. Rev. Jurrita Williams Louie, associate director of the Center for Missional Outreach and Disaster Response for the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, will be the speaker. The Unity Day march will begin at 11:30 a.m. from the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. The annual Mass Rally will begin at 6 p.m. at First African Baptist Church. The speaker will be Marvin Cherry, senior pastor of Hightown Church of God.

Concert tickets are $20. Legacy Banquet tickets are $30 for individuals or $250 for a table of 10. Dress is semiformal. Tickets for both events will be available online at beginning Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019 at 8 a.m. To purchase tickets in person, please visit the Moody Music Box Office Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019 through Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, from 8 a.m. to noon. For more information, call 205-348-7111 or email

For more information about Realizing the Dream activities and events, visit the website at, or contact Carol Agomo at 205-348-7405 or via email at

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.