DOBBINS HEIGHTS — Project R.E.B.I.U.L.D. held a screening for children and teenagers of Richmond County on Monday of a lesser-known, though no less affecting, speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. titled “What is Your Life’s Blueprint?” in which he challenges the youth to channel anger into constructive pursuits.
“Our slogan must not be ‘Burn, baby burn’ it must be ‘Build, baby build’, ‘Organize, baby organize,’” King said at the close of his speech to the students of Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on Oct. 26, 1967.
He began the speech with the question: “What is in your life’s blueprint?” and offered three suggestions for the students to add to theirs. The first was “a deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth, and your own ‘somebodiness.’” The second was “the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor.” And the third was “a commitment to the eternal principles of beauty, love and justice.”
Project R.E.B.I.U.L.D., which stands for “Removing Economic Blocks by Utilizing Integral Logical Development,” used this speech as a jumping off point to get the handful of students present to begin to think about their futures in a constructive and realistic way. As one might expect, the children, who ranged from elementary to high school age, were not initially interested in watching a 20-minute black-and-white video on a day off from school, often checking their phones with some putting their heads down.
“When you experience life outside of Richmond County, (your sense of self-worth) is going to be your driving force,” Christina Mormon, a volunteer with Project R.E.B.I.U.L.D., told the children after the video. “We would all like to be professional ball players but we need to focus on our education first.”
The worksheets they were given asked them what they wanted to do “with their own two hands.” Some said they wanted to make good grades, graduate high school. Labares Williams, a student at West Rockingham Elementary School, had a hard time thinking of what he wanted to do except play football. When the volunteers tried to encourage him to think bigger about a way that he could change the world, he complained that it was “too much work,” sounding exasperated.
“You’re too young to be feeling like that!” said Gurnell Harris, one of the volunteers.
Alijah Goodwin had perhaps the most ambitious goal. “I want to be every superhero,” he said.
Ty’yonia Simpson, a student at Richmond Senior High, said that with her two hands, she wants to “give back to the world and share what I know.”
“The kids could have been more focused but hopefully it will stick with them,” said Teraefean Goodwin, host site supervisor for Project R.E.B.I.U.L.D. “If we plant that one seed we can start to make it come to fruition.”
This is the first event for Project R.E.B.I.U.L.D., which will hold monthly events that will teach residents financial literacy, job search and employability skills, and help them obtain their GED.
Project R.E.B.I.U.L.D. is an AmeriCorps program funded through a $61,742 grant from the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service in the Office of the Governor, according to Patricia Gilliam, program coordinator for the project.
The program is a collaboration between Richmond Community College, the town of Dobbins Heights, Works and Partners in Ministry. The February event is entitled “Money Talks….Should I Listen?” Each week in February starting on Wednesday, Feb. 7, attendees will learn a different aspect of financial literacy.
For more information, contact Teraefean Goodwin with the Rockingham Housing Authority at 910-997-3316, ext. 3 or by email at [email protected]
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]