King Inspires Students to Speak

Today our nation celebrates the birthday of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. Recently Houston grade school students competed in the annual Dr. King Oratory competition. Bill Stamps has more on their remarkable speeches.

Donnetta Smith sat in the audience setting up her video camera, waiting to hear her Daughter Dawn who was one of the 12 finalists chosen from all over Houston. She says Dawn has been practicing her speech virtually non-stop.

“All day everyday. All day everyday. I hear the speech all day.”

The theme: What would Dr. King say about current events today?

This is Destiny Moore of Wainwright Elementary: “He would be grateful for the sacrifices of sailors, marines, guards, airmen and soldiers — like my dad — who are serving our country in Afghanistan today.”

Not surprisingly, just about every speech mentioned Barack Obama in some fashion.

Whidby Elementary’s Shaunice Hawkins says Obama’s election means a lot to her…and it would mean a lot to King.

“Martin Luther King’s dream has come to be. Yes, we can. Yes, we did. Thank you, Martin. Thank you.”

Remember Dawn Smith who’s mother had the video recorder. This is her.

“On November 4th 2008, when Barack Obama won, I saw my mother and father crying because those voted for a black man that became president of the United States of America. I cried for my parents. I cried for my great-great parents who were not there to witness that historical day.”

There were a lot of great speeches, but in the end it was Gerra Gistand who floored everyone in the auditorium.

“I think Dr. King would say don’t be a drop out be a graduate on top. Don’t be a criminal looking for a lawyer. You be the lawyer. Don’t be a drug dealer and drug user. Be a doctor or a pharmacist.”

And then she took it a notch higher.

“I can only imagine in my young mind, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and Barack Hussein Obama Junior standing together holding hands and singing together. (singing) It’s been a long time coming, but a change has come.”

It was kind of ironic that Dawn Smith —  who’d nearly driven her mother crazy practicing her speech, and talked about crying for her family in her speech …“I cried for my parents” …was now standing next to her mom crying, because she didn’t win. Her mom put down the video camera and said its okay baby. Everything gonna be okay.