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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Speaker discusses the dream

Incorporating his own life stories and the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaker Barry Scott challenged the campus community last night to pursue their own dreams and to question what they really believe and think.

His presentation, “A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.” was held in the Union Ballroom in celebration of African American Heritage Month. The free event was sponsored by UAO.

A lifetime admirer of King, Scott calls himself an authority on the life and times of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Scott has been reenacting King’s speeches for over 35 years. A native of Nashville, he now travels across the nation presenting his one-man-show tribute to Dr. King. He has been touring colleges for about 20 years.

“It occurred as more of an advocation than a vocation,” he said. “The college tours was a natural fit and I just wanted a younger audience and to give them a sense of what he means to them or potentially means to them, and that perhaps, that philosophy is relevant in them today as it was to people during his lifetime.”

Scott spoke about how he initially began reciting King’s speeches at age 12. It wasn’t until a few years later, when a police officer ridiculed him because of his race, that Scott realized the real meaning of King’s words.

“I felt like Martin Luther King was singing, not talking and it affected me,” he said. “I was so captured by his speech making that I wanted to look like him and sound like him. I remember feeling good about myself that night.”

Scott’s tribute included excerpts from his sermons, speeches and letters. He noted himself as being an actor, which was evident to the audience when he passionately performed other characters from his past. Between speech excerpts Scott discussed some of the history of the civil rights era.

“I thought it was phenomenal and amazing. I think a lot of people should have experienced this,” said Ashley Baker, community service program coordinator. “He sounds exactly like the audio of Martin Luther King and hearing his sharing of his own stories and experiences was really a good message.”

While issues have changed over the years, poverty is at the forefront of issues today, Scott said.

“Issues of classism far outraces issues of racism today,” he said. “I think potentially these times are more deadly than they were in the 1960s. Martin King’s life gives us a signpost and a looking glass so we can examine that period.”

Students need to realize they have a say in what happens in the world and what they think is important, Scott said.

“I hope that they [students] get a sense that Martin Luther King’s philosophy is relevant today and I hope they get a real sense of self analysis of where we are today and what they feel and what they believe,” he said. “At the core of my objective is to get people to think about what they think, what they believe and what they feel; something deep and meaningful.”

Brittany Barhite, president of UAO saw Scott perform at a conference last year and decided to bring him to the University.

“We just thought he did an excellent job embracing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” she said. “He really stuck out for us. His emotion within reenacting stories from when he grew up and his own personal stories were inspiring.”

The message of Dr. King is still relevant today, Barhite said.

“We want not only to celebrate Black History Month but to remember Dr. King’s message today and how his message is still working today,” she said. “I was just moved by it and it made me realize what they went through during the civil rights time. I hope students, too, will be moved by it.”

Scott is thankful to King, but the nation should be as well, he said.

“His speeches and his philosophy have made me who I am, that coupled with my parents, my church and my community. I am really grateful to Martin King,” he said. “This country is indebted to him, we would not be where we are today without him, his philosophy, values, speeches. He helped the whole nation move towards racial tolerance and human tolerance.”

Scott assured the audience that more needs to be done to achieve King’s dream.

“It occurs to me that a dream can only be deferred by a dreamer,” he said. “And while Martin King was killed, the dream lives on. It lives on in me and you.”

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