Thursday, February 24, 2011

a pleasant surprise

After turning in an English exam, a sixth grade boy told me, "I've never written anything like that before in my life. It really came from deep down in here," pointing to his heart. I dug through the pile of exams when I got home and fished his out first. We had been doing a unit on civil rights and the students responded to a prompt where they were an African American activist in the 1960's who was asked to write a speech for Martin Luther King to read at a rally in Washington DC. His response really was lovely:

"Dear friends,

Today we're here to protest about our rights. We all know that white people think we're different, but do not ever think that too, my folks. We are all equal! Just because another person tells you to do something, or to feel something are you doing to do it!? If they tell you to act like a dog, like less than you are, are you doing to do it!? Of course not, and all stops here today, folks.

Let's change our topic a little. I know you have heard that we're about to convince the president to think differently about our rights, but some of you think that it won't work. It will! It must! He is thinking but you should continue with the protest, continue with our actions. White people will notice they need us, and that we won't help them until we have the same rights, the same treatment as them.

Folks, believe in it. Believe in hope, believe in god, pray he will surely hear you and help us with this. Folks believe with all your heart that we can, because if you believe it we really can do this!

(clap, clap, clap)."

Indeed. Clap, clap, clap!

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