I tickled myself when I walked in the room and saw this chestnut-colored woman with unkempt hair standing behind the desk that Mr. Keller my 12th grade English teacher usually occupied. She said her name was Ms. Brown, she was about 5’3” and weighed about 115 pounds soaking wet. She could have easily been a cartoon character except for her powerful voice. She said, everyone take seat and take out your essay book. I want to remind you, that you need this class to graduate. We are going to watch a clip of Martin Luther King’s, I Have a Dream speech, and write a thousand-word essay on whether we have seen his dream realized now in 2022.
If you haven’t heard, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Everything we do in this class will have a grade attached to it. I am not the substitute. I will be replacing Mr. Keller as your teacher for the rest of the year. If you must go to the bathroom, come, and get the hall pass from my desk, one at a time. I assure you that this is not my first rodeo. I have a zero-tolerance policy. Any violations, you will go home with your parents for three days, and you will still be responsible for all your assignments.
The link for the YouTube video is on the board. This was a contemporary class. Bookbags were on the floor, student’s feet were up on chairs, and the students were sitting in groups according to what they were in to. There were simi circles of students with piercings, the nerds, the jocks, and scattered individuals that had not found their niche yet. They all had on earphones and a laptop in front of their faces.
Ms. Brown smiled; it was amazing to her that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King could still hold an audience of the variety of cultures in the room. Cynthia one of the nerds raised her hand after the video and asked can we hold a class discussion before we write. Ms. Brown was excited that the class was so engaged.
One of the students raised his hand and said, “everyone has rights now and it seems like the African Americans have more rights than everyone. The next student chimed in and said its not about rights. Then what is it about Ms. Brown asked? The first thing you see about a person is the color of their skin and you make assumptions, not necessarily good or bad but assumptions. Everybody want to be better than everyone else, to feel superior. Another student said we all divide into groups, but not by the color of our skin.
Out of the left corner a young man said what about white rights. The room began to get rowdy Ms. Brown said in my room we hold discussions, what about white rights. She stood up and asked, are people being judged by the color of their skin or the content of their hearts? Start writing. Ms. Brown sat there and smiled to herself, she had a year to encourage independent thinking and dialogue. I said to myself, I like Ms. Brown.