One Night in Miami: The Story of Four Men and Their Fight for Equality


Anna Porter, Staff Writer

     On the night of February 25, 1964, Malcolm X, Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali), Sam Cooke and Jim Brown all came together at the Hampton House Motel in Overtown, Florida after Cassius Clay’s victory over Sonny Liston. That gave Clay the title of world heavyweight boxing champion. Being four of the most influential and successful African American men from their time, one can only imagine what they talked about that night, but Kemp Powers did more than imagine. Despite not knowing what really happened he decided to write a play about it. “One Night in Miami” is a fictional story based on the real night of February 25, 1964.

     “One Night in Miami” was first performed as a one-act play in 2013 and on December 25, 2020 Amazon Prime came out with a movie version starring Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X, Leslie Odom Jr as Sam Cooke, Eli Goree as Cassius Clay, and Aldis Hodge as Jim Brown. The movie portrays the four men as they gather in a motel room and discuss racial prejudice in America and how they should use their influence and popularity to fight for equal rights.

     This movie is so important because people don’t like to talk about things they are not proud of or things they should not have done. It is the same in history. We like to learn about the wars that we won and the people who changed the world for the better, but we never talk about the reason those wars had to be fought or why the world needed to be changed. This movie shows the struggles and conflicts within the fight for equal rights during the 1960s. The story of these men sheds light on a terrible time in our history where people were treated as though they were not equal just because of their skin color.

    The movie is about four famous African American men in the 60’s hanging out in a motel, but it is so much more than that. The movie shows an unseen weight that African American people have to carry everyday that everyone else doesn’t. After becoming the World heavyweight boxing champion, what would you do? You would go out and celebrate, wouldn’t you think? Instead, 22 year old Cassius Clay hung out in a motel room with three other men talking about how they can further show their support of the equal rights movement through their influence.

     I feel as though the most impressive thing about the movie is that it’s fiction. Kemp Powers thought to himself “What would these men have done? What would they have talked about? How was their relationship with one another? Sure, they were friends but what would they fight about?” He took those thoughts and turned them into an amazing one-act play. He did so much research and after watching it you wouldn’t have the slightest idea it was a work of fiction. You would think that these men recorded their interactions on that night and Kemp Powers somehow got a hold of it, but that isn’t the case. 

     So, what really happened that night between a world-famous boxer, singer, football star and a human rights activist? To this day no one knows, but that’s a part of the magic of this movie.