Everything happens for a reason…right??!! Like most most of the world, I ‘ve been trying to figure out why we are being tested with these challenging times we find ourselves faced with today. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for such pain and suffering mentally, physically and financially. The bright light at the end of the rainbow for me was this documentary. I found myself in the ‘ugly cry’ as I was left with a smile on my face and hope in my heart for the future of our young people.
Even though funding for the arts have been drastically cut over the last few decades, some legacies are still in tact like The Spotlight Awards in SoCal, The August Wilson Monologue Competition and the MLK Oratorical Festival in Oakland. Annually, children from 120 schools in city wide in Oakland, ranging in age from Pre-Kindergarten through 12 years-old take the stage reciting speeches and poems, known and unknown for the chance to compete. The prize? A feeling of accomplishment that can only come from the spoken word
The most important things to take away from We Are The Dream: The Kids of Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest is that our teachers are crucial in America and throughout the world. They provide our little nuggets with confidence boosting, support, encouragement mixed with constructive NOT destructive criticism. They lay the groundwork for making sure that the human race legacy remains in tact by handing it down one generation at a time. When you hear these min-activists express thoughts like, “…they told me that I’m free, but I can’t dress this way” or “…it’s time to stop discrimination, stop violence and stand up against hate,” you are reminded that children are like little sponges and easily emulate what they see and hear. It’s up to adults to steer them in the right direction. It’s up to us to make sure that the Black History introduced into the school system in the 60’s and is now practically non-existent with the exception of key players like MLK, Barack Obama and Maya Angelou continues to thrive with this generation and the ones to follow.
Watching young immigrant students exclaim ‘”..criminal, animals…that’s not who we are” or watching young Muslim girls express their sadness over youth yelling at their Mom “…she has a bomb,” tells you everything you need to know. The power of words is real and how you use them makes a difference.
Produced by Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali and directed by Emmy winner Amy Schatz, We Are The Dream: The Kids of Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest was the exact shot of positivity I needed in the midst of these dark moments and I’m sure it will lift you up as well when you hop over to HBO to stream it right now.