A good speech can last the test of time. My valedictorian speech as I reread it over the years has become more visionary to me today than it was when I first read it. I guess my pops was right when he told me that he had already done and thought of everything that I can even imagine doing. That’s why all credit is given to the Most High for inspiring my dad to write such a compelling speech. Only thing I did was read it out loud, extremely nervous in front of a crowd. The speech can be read right below:
Good evening, parents, teachers, faculty, Mr. Tindal and school board members, Mr. Perrin, fellow students, and graduates.
For the class of 2004 the odds were stacked against us. We stand here as proof with the grace of God that all things are possible under his guidance.
As I look out amongst all of you I see an unknown future for each and every one of you. A future in which you have a choice to make. Will you stay the course and feel your mind with the desire to do things that will better this world and your life? Or will you succumb to the system and be another statistic of your environment? We the class of 2004 have chosen the former. We have lived both sides of the road. We have met the odds and fulfilled them.
There may be some of us who are content with a high school diploma, but there are those like myself who chose to go to the next level. It is my hearts desire that those we leave behind will be inspired by the class of 2004. The education is here. All you need is the determination to excel and to be the best you can be and not fall alongside of the road. To be passed by as an empty chair, but fill the chair, raise those hands, ask them questions, seek the knowledge that is before you.
Be as we were before, graduates of 2004, reach out and take what is yours. We have the great Martin Luther King. We have the inspiring Malcolm X. We have the great writings of Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, and Alice Walker. We have the performing arts of Harry Bellefonte, Sidney Poitier, and Lena Horne. They have come before you and laid down the crown. All you need to do is to put it on.
There are so many inspiring African-American role models that I can’t even begin to list them all. But I must tell you we are a race that engineered the beginning of civilization. We came from nations of kings and queens. Oh but when I walk outside of my house’s door, my heart is wrenched with what I see before me. So many of my peers have fallen for the easy way out; the fast money, the drugs, the cars. But we who stayed the course chose the path of our ancestors. We shall carry on the legacy of what it means to come from the great land of our ancestors; engineers, doctors, chemists, kings and queens, performing artists, writers, and politicians. The true pioneers of civilization.
This is the road I chose with so much behind me such greatness. It is my hope that I may bring honor to my parents, to my school, and most importantly my God Almighty. The great I am, the first, the last, the Alpha the Omega, to him be the Glory.
Thank you, Amen.
A little over ten years later and we still have people stepping in the footsteps of our ancestors and becoming great, but we also have those who have chosen the opposite. Until we can get them along with the rest of the world to see the light, I will continue to live and walk in the path that God has sent me on.
Special thanks go to my father, Clifford Green (or Little Cliff as I call him), not only for writing this speech but for making me into the man I am today. Thank you dad and I love you!
I’m not Scared to be smart, are you? Leave a comment below and let me know how you feel.
P.S. If you thought that speech was on point, wait until you read both of my sisters’ speeches. Unlike me they wrote their own.
Go Hard or Die Easy!