Flux Night 8 400For nearly a decade, Stephon Ferguson has found himself in demand, impersonating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This month, he's already booked for 15 dates, including a couple of scheduled appearances in the state Sunday.

More often than not, Ferguson is hired to give his spot-on rendition of King's impassioned "I Have a Dream" speech.

But the 42-year-old Fayetteville man delves deeper into Dr. King's inspirational canon, saying he's capable of delivering a performance from perhaps 30 of the civil rights icon's greatest speeches and sermons.

Those performances are presented as complete or excerpted speeches - a collective five to six hours worth of King's own words, set to memory.

The speeches include the 35-minute "I've Been to the Mountaintop," the popular name of the last speech given by King, on April 3, 1968, at the Mason Temple in Memphis. They also include the solemn "Letter From a Birmingham Jail," from an open letter King addressed to eight white fellow clergymen in 1963 after being arrested for his part in the nonviolent campaign against racial segregation in Birmingham.

Ferguson has given his King performance before as many as 30,000 people - at a Jena Six protest rally in Jena, La. - and before as few as 15 in a school classroom.

He has performed at King's Atlanta birthplace, with three of his children seated in the audience.

"I don't know how I do it," Ferguson said. "It comes from God."

In 2010, Ferguson said, he averaged about five King performances a month. This month has proved to be his best January since taking on the role professionally. January is always busy because it marks King's birthday, which will be celebrated as a national holiday Monday.

"I try to put myself in Dr. King's character," Ferguson said from the living room of his townhouse off Reilly Road. "I think about Dr. King, his family. And if he was standing there and listening to what I was doing, would it be pleasing to him?"

Two years ago in Lumberton, Ferguson breathed life into the "I Have a Dream" speech at a N.C. Black History Month celebration, three months after the historic election of President Obama.

"He knows that by heart," muttered one woman at the Lumberton performance. "If a blind man had walked by here, he would have thought it was Martin Luther King."

In Fayetteville, Ferguson has performed at the annual MLK prayer breakfast. Eight years ago, he gave a King speech at the groundbreaking for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park.

On Sunday, Ferguson will perform a King speech at 8 a.m. at the Laurel Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond County. He has an 11 a.m. engagement at the Christian Faith Baptist Church in Raleigh.

BirthplaceHe cites his performance in the fall, at the home where King was born in the Sweet Auburn community of Atlanta, as his most noteworthy to date. That came during the 30th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. The grounds include the tomb of King and his wife, Coretta Scott King.

"Because the family was there," Ferguson said, "I was not nervous on this one. I don't know why. I was tripping. I didn't know they would be there."

He said that after the ceremony, Bernice King - Dr. King's youngest child - approached him.

"Bernice told me, 'I have never heard anyone come that close to my father,' " Ferguson recalled. "To hear that come from his child, I can't tell you what that means to me."

Bernice King could not be reached for comment.

Agraph of her father, from the time of his "I Have a Dream" speech, hangs on a wall by Ferguson's kitchen. A collection of books on King, along with one or two on Rosa Parks and Gandhi, rest near a window.

"I'm a self-made historian," Ferguson said. "I spend a lot more time studying Dr. Martin Luther King himself than I do his speeches."

Ferguson pulled out a cardboard box of various King videos and audio recordings, which he has studied through the years to glean the essence of the man and mimic his speaking voice.

Ferguson said he initially spent two to three months learning a shorter version of the "I Have a Dream" speech for public performances. Along with the words, he strives to capture King's measured cadence. Typically, King almost always started out at a slow, conversational pace. But as his speech progressed, he would ramp up his pace and boost the volume of his voice to draw in his audience.

Although King died at the hands of an assassin's bullet in April 1968 in Memphis, Tenn., Ferguson said his words will continue to resound through the ages.

"They're just as relevant, if not more relevant, today," he said. "What Dr. King talked about - if you put it in one word - is love. That's what the Bible tells us to do.

"He preached love. Look at what's going on around us. Look at what happened in Tucson, Ariz. Look at what he said about Vietnam. I think that parallels what's going on now."

Staff writer Michael Futch can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 486-3529.
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MLK Performer - Motivational Speaker - Gospel Comedian