I was around 8 or 9 years old when my mother and I moved to West Memphis Arkansas with my step dad. It was a huge adjustment and one of the hardest parts of my childhood. Coming from Long Island New York I didn’t fit in right away (or ever). I was bullied a lot. All because I spoke differently and they knew nothing about me. I guess people really do fear the unknown but no one even took the chance to get to know me. Deep down I got the feeling even my teacher disliked me. It really made for an uncomfortable school day.
A week before Martin Luther King JR day we were given an assignment. We had to recite an MLK speech or quote in front of the class. I had to do the famous “I Have A Dream” speech. I was absolutely terrified. I kept hoping I wouldn’t have to do it. I had gotten really good at faking sick just to miss school.
I had read the speech a few times. As young as I was I wasn’t to sure I got the whole meaning of it but I knew it was important. I was tired of being afraid and bullied. I decided to go through with the assignment even thou I knew the kids were not going to all of a sudden have a change of heart like on the TV shows.
The day the assignment was due I volunteered to go first. I got to the front of the classroom and looked at each one of my peers. They were already snickering and laughing. My voice was a little shaky but I breezed through it with no mistakes. When I was done the only critique I received from my teacher was “you went too fast”. That was it.
By me going up there reciting that speech did not change the way those kids treated me but it changed the way I looked at myself. It was the first of many times I would be afraid of doing something but did it anyway. As I got older and learned more I imagine Dr. King was afraid many, many times but he still pushed on to make his dream a reality. To this day we can still learn a lot from him and pass that on to our children.