VIDEO: Little Obama (aka my son) takes 1st Place in 1st Grade Oratorical Contest

I have to say that I was moved by my son and his effort in the Frederick Douglass Academy Oratorical Competition. Isaiah took 1st place in the 1st grade division. He recited a portion of Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, and now they’re calling him “Little Obama” at school.

When we were looking through the some of President Obama’s campaign speeches, I couldn’t get my son to bite on any of the ones I liked. He said no to the Iowa victory speech, no to the pivotal speech on race, and no to the Democratic acceptance speech. But when we read through the Inaugural Address, he said “that’s it.”

We started with about 4 lines and 2 paragraphs. I mean he is in first grade right? But he asked for more so we went further into the speech.

In the next line, Obama talked about “petty grievances”, “recriminations” and “worn out dogmas.” I remembered this to be my favorite part of the address, but was unsure if I wanted to put the pressure on him to recite what I thought would be a difficult passage.

I looked at a word I might substitute for recriminations and though I might strip out the dogmas part all together. Why was I reluctant to challenge him?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we are selling our kids -especially our black boys- short. If Jay-Z and Notorious B.I.G. can remember complicated rhyming patterns without writing them down, why can’t our boys remember passages of scripture, portions of speeches, and geometric theorems?

We’ve got to challenge our boys in more places than the sports arena. It hasn’t been much of a problem for me as a father, but at that moment (and some others), I found myself willing to settle.

Isaiah added another line that made for a better closing and practiced his speech dozens of times to anyone who would listen. I thank my mom, mother-in-law, his teacher, and of course my wife for helping to prepare Isaiah for the contest. Needless to say, I’m a proud papa.

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