Washington 5th graders take part in Martin Luther King Jr. speech

Author: CBS News

WASHINGTON- Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is being honored across the nation.

In Washington D.C., days of commemorative events included an elementary school project– inspiring what could be the next generation of civil rights leaders.

Fifth graders from a D.C. school recited King’s “I have a dream speech” from the very same spot he delivered it in 1963.

“I have a dream that one day, even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering heat of injustice…”

One by one, 5th graders from Watkins Elementary School took to the podium.

“I have a dream the nation will rise up and realize the true meaning of its creed…”

They’ve been rehearsing for weeks.

“I was nervous, but I was kind of excited and I was like ‘wow,’ I was proud,” said student Kiarra Allen.

Standing in the spot where Dr. King delivered the powerful words was also emotional.

“Actually when I was finished, I went up there and I started crying because it was a relief. I was sharing his speech with everybody here,” said Brianna Hawkins.

“When she told me she did, it brings a tear to my eye. It makes me think she is soaking up all the history that she needs to know and all her friends need to know as well,” said Keawona Hawkins, Brianna’s mother.

The school began this tradition on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 11 years ago. Each year students connect to the speech in different ways.

“Have a good life and not be judged by skin color but by the way they act,” said Nicolas Crozat.

Younger students are listening and watching, eager for their turn to share Dr. King’s words on his next birthday.

“Free at last, free at last, free at last.”

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