The Dream Singers




Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



Document Type



In 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, TN. The Dream-Singers traces the lives of Memphis families caught in this tumultuous time in history. At the center of this tale is another family named King—Celestine (a former prostitute, laundress, and conjure woman) and Turner King, a waiter at the Peabody Hotel, reside in the all black subdivision Walker Homes. Celestine and Turner have fled the city to the quiet suburb right at the edge of the Memphis City line to escape their dark pasts. On April 3, 1968 in the middle of a storm Celestine King goes into labor with twins. The first, a boy, is born just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. concludes what is now known as the "Mountaintop" speech to supporters of the sanitation strike and the second, a girl isn't born until the next day at the moment of Dr. King's assassination. During the sanitation strike, the neighbors keep themselves amused by speculating on what magical act Celestine might have performed to have a successful pregnancy. After the devastation of the assassination, the people in Celestine's neighborhood fixate on the babies as a symbol of hope. Their hope is short-lived when just months later, the boy dies of crib death and this community and this family must struggle to move forward.



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Committee Chair

James G. Bennett



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