The Speech

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a short historical narrative about the MLK speech. This is my first post, and any comments or feed back is welcome.
Thanks,
C. Zarabus

Submitted: October 27, 2016

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Submitted: October 27, 2016

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I was 14 when it happened. He called it “the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of our nation”. He spoke with tremendous power. It was melodic when it needed to be and harsh and rough when it needed to be. All I could do was listen, awestruck at the awesome words that promised a better future. He called it “the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of our nation”, and he was right.  

I grew up in a town in Mississippi called River City. It was a small town of only about five thousand. My mom worked as a maid for the Mayor, and my dad ran his own car repair service. We didn’t have much, but it was enough for my parents. In our small house I grew up with five brothers and one twin sister. Her name was Rosaline, and we did everything together. She was my best friend, and my whole world.

We went to Echo primary school, if you can even call it that. The textbooks we have have been out of date for 30 years. The teachers that work there don’t get paid a living wage, and most of them have second jobs.

One day, when I was twelve years old, everything changed. Rosaline and I were playing hide and seek in the yard. Ma yelled at us from the window to come inside for dinner.

“Coming!” we yelled back in unison. As soon as we walked in the door there was the smell of freshly baked bread and beef stew. Pa was sitting in the rocking chair, watching his show.

“Hi pa!” I said, and kissed him on the cheek, and my sister did the same. His cheek was rough and prickly, and he smelled faintly of motor oil.

“Hi babies,” said pa with a sad smile. I wondered why he wasn’t his usual, cheery self, but I just shrugged it off to a long day. We walked together into the kitchen, where the smell almost make us faint. We were the last ones to come in and Pa, Rosaline, and I sat down eagerly at the table. Ma led us in a quick prayer and we all dug in.

“So,” Pa started with a full mouth of food, “how was everyone’s day?”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Ma scolded him.

“I’ve got to tell you all something,” he said, “The chief of police came into the shop.” We all gaped at him. The police chief was the most inhumane, ignorant, and cruel man in town. We would vote him out of that position, but in this state, blacks can’t vote.  “I messed up bad.” he said.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, “Police! Open up!” said the deep grumbly voice on the other side.

“Coming!” said Ma, in cheerful voice as she opened up the back door just enough for Pa to run out. All of us kids ran to our rooms.

We could hear the front door open and Ma say, “What seems to to be the pro-” she was cut off by a slapping sound and a large thud.

“What was that?” asked five year old Pete, the youngest brother, who we share a room with. Rosaline looked at me with fear in her eyes.

There was the sound of glass being shattered as police broke down our back door. Suddenly Pete ran out of the room and toward the sound.

“Stop!” I yelled, and ran after him. I could hear Rosaline right behind me. Pete ran around the corner and out the shattered remains of what used to be the back door.

There was Pa, lying on the ground, and two policeman standing over him, kicking him

over and over. I grabbed Pete and hugged him close to my body.

Rosaline shrieked and ran towards Pa before I was able to stop her. She jumped onto the policeman’s back. The policeman tore her off and threw her to the ground next to Pa, there was a loud cracking sound, and I could the blood streaming from Rosaline’s her head. The policeman hovered above her, and as he was about to deliver the finishing blow, Pa leaped in front of her and took the full force of the blow in the temple.

The chief, satisfied, called out to Ma, who had just gotten back up, “There’s no room for n*****s like you in my town!”

I quickly ran to my sister and Pa, and huddled over them. Pa wasn’t breathing, and Rosaline's wound was still streaming blood. I picked her up and carried her inside, and into her bed. I wrapped a bandage around the wound, and just sat there at her bed side. I don’t know how long I sat, but after what felt like only a few hours, Ma came in.

“You’ve got to eat something,” she said, handing me a piece of bread. Her eyes were bloodshot from crying, and dark circles had begun to form. “We’ve got to leave this place,”

“No!” I yelled, “Now without her!”

Ma put two fingers to Rosaline’s wrist and all she had to do was shake her head.

“No! No! She can’t be!” I sobbed, “It’s not fair!” Ma wrapped me in a tight hug,

“I know it baby… I know.” said Ma, “come on baby…” Together we stood up, packed a bag, and walked out the door.

Over the next two years we moved from place to place, never really settling anywhere. After that fateful day, I decided to hate all whites. They were nothing but heartless, cruel, terrible people, and deserved no respect. Why should I have to learn nothing at a second rate school when there are white children getting all the education they need for a better future.

Eventually we found our way to Washington DC, where we lived for about six months in a hotel reserved for “people of color”. It was a crummy, worn-down building that smelled of sewage and had a cockroach infestation. Here we were in our nation’s capital, still being treated like dirt. “So much for freedom,” I thought to myself almost daily.

One day I woke up to the sound of loud cheering and the thump thump of thousands of shoes hitting the pavement. I ran out onto the small balcony to a glorious sight. Thousands and thousands of people marching outside my hotel. I quickly ran down the stairs, and slipped into the crowd.

I ran along, listening to their happy cries of freedom. I was so small, it was easy for me to make my way through the crowd to the front. It was then that Dr. King began his speech.

His voice is incredibly steady, yet it booms like thunder,  and he spoke slowly and melodically.  We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality”  roared King.

“Amen!” I yelled back at him. No longer being able to hold in the tears, I sobbed freely and openly. It was all clear to me now. River City, Pa, Rosaline; I had lost so much, but by just listening to this man speak, I knew that they would be avenged.

I had been through a lot. In the end, it was all worth it, just to be able to listen to this man speak. He called it “the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of our nation”, and he was right.

 


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