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An Actor Playing MLK Says People Have Called Him The N-Word In London, Ontario

E.B. Smith says he's never experienced such overt racism in Canada.

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An American actor playing Martin Luther King, Jr. in a Canadian stage production says he's been called the n-word twice while in London, Ontario.

E.B. Smith

E.B. Smith will play King in The Mountaintop, a play about the civil rights icon's last night before he was killed.

But Smith says that in the two weeks he's been in London rehearsing for the part, people have hurled racial slurs at him twice.

The first time it happened, he and his co-star Beryl Bain were walking down the street when someone in a passing car yelled the n-word at them. The second time, a man in a bar used the word and called him "a piece of shit," according to a post on his Facebook profile.

"I didn't expect that I would encounter such aggressive language in London," Smith said.

Smith, who has been in Canada for six years, told BuzzFeed Canada this was the first time he had encountered such overt racism in the country.

The Grand Theatre / Via Facebook: TheGrandLondon

“I’ve had other friends who have encountered similar things, but this is the first time that it’s come at me in this way,” he said.

London Mayor Matt Brown called Smith after hearing about the incident to personally apologize on behalf of the city, and the actor says he's received numerous other messages from people appalled at what happened.

“What I would like to see happen is that shame and feeling of remorse turn into action.”

Smith says he felt compelled to share his experience in part because of the role he's playing on stage. “This is what the play I think is trying to get at, that we haven’t achieved the dream that Martin Luther King spoke so eloquently about.”

Facebook: starringeb

"As a society we must do better to spread love, weaponize love, and love ourselves," he wrote on Facebook. "We must fight to overcome the darkness and demons within and without. We, the awakened, the lovers, must scream at the top of our lungs that the world cannot help but hear us."

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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