Yomalis Rosario / The Dartmouth Senior Staff
Katori was chosen as the keynote speaker for this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, which focuses on the art of non-conformity.
Hall spoke about her play "The Mountaintop," which humanizes King, and removes him from an idealistic pedestal, she said.
"Seeing the humanity in our heroes allows us to see the heroes in ourselves," Hall said.
"The Mountaintop" was heavily influenced by Carrie Mae, Hall's mother, who marched with King and lived in the vicinity of the Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Mae planned to attend King's speech the night before his murder, but a heavy storm and bomb threats at the event deterred her from going. Missing the speech was Mae's greatest regret, but her admiration for King helped to inspire Hall's work.
Hall stressed that King was not perfect. Upon his death, King's cigarettes were removed from his jacket to hide his smoking habits, initiating what Hall said was his "perfection project." King's idealistic image has made social activism seem daunting, because people often have the misconception "that only perfect people can change the world," she said.
King often suffered anxiety attacks, but his acceptance of fear and enthusiasm for life made him a great leader, Hall said.
Hall's journey to becoming a playwright took several years and was influenced by an "unsettling" experience when she was studying abroad in South Africa as an undergraduate.
During her trip, Hall developed a friendship with Ishmael, a freedom fighter and driver for the program she studied through. As she grew closer to him, she was awestruck by his passion for justice and said he was "like a God to me."
However, he later began to make inappropriate sexual advances toward her. Hall did not speak about the experience, and her silence soon "turned into acceptance."
Eventually, she contacted school officials, and Ishmael was fired after extensive questioning.
Hall's first compositions stem from her experience with Ishmael because it made her realize her identity as a woman, she said.
Nikkita McPherson '13, president of the Afro-American society, introduced Hall with an impassioned speech in which she urged Dartmouth students to help change campus culture.
"There is a storm brewing to implement positive change on this campus," she said.
McPherson said that students are often afraid to speak out against injustices such as racism, homophobia, rape, and violence.
"With all this grandeur at Dartmouth College, it is unfortunate that we have not mastered the art of nonconformity," McPherson said.
Hall said she was impressed by McPherson's speech and complimented her boldness.
"I kind of want to be like Nikkita when I grow up," she said.
The event began with a speech by Interim College President Carol Folt, who expressed her gratitude to King, Hall, McPherson and numerous others who helped perpetuate King's legacy.
Hunter Kappel '14 said that Hall's reflections about her mother and family roots struck a personal chord.
"I took away that our voices come from our parents, our grandparents and basically our ancestors, and a lot of who we are today comes a lot from who they were," he said.