UA Announces 2021 Virtual Realizing the Dream Events


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — “The show must go on” is one of the most familiar expressions in showbiz, and despite COVID-19, that is exactly what will be happening during the 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Realizing the Dream celebration.

While the two most familiar components — the annual concert and legacy banquet — will not occur this year, other important aspects of this annual celebration will take place.

The theme for the 2021 activities is Realizing the Dream Through Justice for All.

Among the activities planned is the premier of a documentary that will chronicle the vision and aspirations of those who founded the event in 1990, as well as its impact on individuals and the community. It will feature founders and key officials from Stillman College, Shelton State Community College, The University of Alabama and the Tuscaloosa Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who will recount their experiences.

Through the use of current and archival interviews, the documentary will feature those who have been recognized over the years, such as Reverend Thomas Linton, former Tuscaloosa police chief Ken Swindle, attorney Cleo Thomas Jr., and our youngest award recipients, including former students Kendra Key, Fan Yang, Melanie Gotz, Quin Kelly and Emma Mansberg.

The Center for Public Television is partnering with the Realizing the Dream Committee to produce the documentary.

In addition, a new Realizing the Dream website will be launched featuring photographic images captured over the years, not only from The University of Alabama archives but also from individuals who have participated in the annual events. To upload photos, visit

Realizing the Dream activities will continue throughout the year on a quarterly basis and may include guest lecturers and performing artists. Events will be hosted in a virtual setting early in the year, with hopes for in-person activities later. Event details will be announced as they become available.

Among those events is an essay and art contest focused on the 2021 theme, Realizing the Dream Through Justice for All. The contest, which will involve middle and high school students from Tuscaloosa and the surrounding area, is sponsored by the Realizing the Dream Committee, which seeks to educate and keep the Dream relevant to the next generation. Selected students will be asked to share insights about their work in an online setting on Thursday, April 8, at 6 p.m. Those students featured will receive special recognition, as well as earn funding to support this important work at their respective schools.

This year’s event date was selected for its close proximity to the time Dr. King, a brilliant writer and orator, wrote his April 16, 1963 Letter from the Birmingham Jail. His message that day, “… Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere …,” was both timely and timeless.

Information about contest criteria and submission is available at The submission deadline is Monday, March 15.

The Realizing the Dream Committee is comprised of representatives from The University of Alabama, Stillman College, Shelton State Community College and the Tuscaloosa Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

The Tuscaloosa SCLC has recently announced its Unity Day events, scheduled to take place on a virtual platform on Monday, Jan. 18. The Unity Day Breakfast will begin the day’s activities at 7:45 a.m. Reverend David Gay will be the speaker. A car parade will begin at 11 a.m. Those planning to participate should place signs on their cars and line up at the Beulah Baptist Church and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School parking lots. Concluding the day’s activities will be a rally program at 6 p.m., featuring Reverend Clarence Sutton Jr. as the speaker.

For more information on how to view the Unity Day virtual programs and participate in the car parade, please contact Reginald Kennedy at

Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president of the Division of Community Affairs at UA and a member of the Realizing the Dream Committee, said, “We look forward to sharing these important annual events with the public, even if we are unable to do so face-to-face at this time. Dr. King’s legacy is too important for us to let something like COVID-19 prevent us from continuing to recognize what Dr. King means to our campus, community and state. The show WILL go on.”

For additional information, contact the UA Division of Community Affairs at or 205-348-8376.

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