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The University of Alabama

South African Artist Headlines 2016 Realizing the Dream Events at UA

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Award-winning South African artist Jonathan Butler will be the featured performer for the 2016 Realizing the Dream Concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, at the Moody Music Concert Hall on the UA campus.

Sponsors are Shelton State Community College, Stillman College, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and The University of Alabama. This will be the Tuscaloosa area’s 27th annual celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Former U.S. attorney G. Douglas Jones will deliver the annual Legacy Banquet lecture at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15,  at the the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Tuscaloosa.

Jonathan Butler

Jonathan Butler

Butler, who grew up in apartheid-ruled Cape Town, South Africa, began his singing career at 7. As a teen, he was already writing and composing. He won several Sarie Awards — South Africa’s version of the Grammys. Today, his pop, urban, contemporary jazz, adult contemporary and gospel repertoire has made him an international star.

He has been nominated for several Grammys, including Best R&B Song and Best Jazz Song. He will be welcomed and introduced by students from UA, Stillman and Shelton State.

Jones, a 1976 graduate of UA and 1979 graduate of Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, led the team in successfully prosecuting two former KKK members for the murder of four young girls in the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham.

At the Legacy Banquet, Bill Baxley will receive the Mountaintop Award; Theresa Burroughs will receive the Call to Conscience Award; and Elliot Spillers will receive the Horizon Award.

When Baxley was elected Alabama attorney general at 28, he already had served as district attorney in Houston and Henry counties. He was attorney general from 1971 to 1979, and he was lieutenant governor from 1983 to 1987.

As attorney general, he appointed the state’s first African-American assistant attorney general, Myron Thompson, who later became a federal judge. Baxley is perhaps best known for successfully prosecuting Ku Klux Klansman Robert Chambliss for the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

At 18, Theresa Burroughs became active in the civil rights movement. She was arrested six times and was one of the first to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma when armed policemen attacked civil rights demonstrators.

In March 1968, King sought a night of refuge in the Burroughs family home in Greensboro. Today, that house is known as the Safe House Black Historic Museum. Burroughs founded the museum in 1992 and continues to serve as director of the Hale county historical site.

G. Douglas Jones

G. Douglas Jones

In spring 2015, Elliott Spillers became only the second African-American Student Government Association president at UA. He is the first African-American to hold the office since Cleo Thomas won in 1976. The Honors College student is majoring in business management with a political science minor.

Realizing the Dream partner the Southern Christian Leadership Conference will sponsor Unity Day activities beginning at 7 a.m.  Monday, Jan. 18, with the Unity Breakfast at Beulah Missionary Baptist Church. The Rev. Tyshawn Gardner, pastor of Plum Grove Missionary Baptist Church, will be the speaker. The Unity Day march will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Foster Auditorium and proceed to City Hall. The annual Mass Rally will begin at 6 p.m. at First African Baptist Church. The speaker will be the Rev. Schmitt Moore, pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.

Legacy Banquet tickets are $25 for individuals or $200 for a table of 10. Dress is semiformal. Concert tickets are $15.

Tickets for both events will go on sale through the Moody Music Building box office Wednesday, Jan. 6.

Box office hours are 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday; phone 205/348-7111. For more information about Realizing the Dream activities and events, email

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.