Barry Scott, a man who makes his living as an actor and voice-over artist, visited West Chester University on Wednesday night as part of his advocation of educating and inspiring students about the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Students congregated in the Asplundh Concert Hall to hear Scott reflect on his own experiences growing up as an African-American child in Nashville and how his life seemed to be inextricably linked to the life of Dr. King.
“I wanted my voice to sound like his voice,” Scott said, recalling how he first saw a projection of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech in his home at age 12.
Scott’s parents then had him recite the speech in front of their church audience, a daunting experience for a boy of 12. While Scott does not remember his first performance fondly, the kind words of a church member encouraged him to remain inspired by King.
“I felt good about myself and that was hard to do growing up colored,” Scott said.
Thus began Scott’s journey as an advocate of the life and times of Dr. King and his desire to keep his legend alive and relevant to a new generation in America.
“A dream can only be deferred by the dreamer and while the dreamer was killed, the dream lives on,” Scott said, musing about his curiosity of whether Dr. King’s dream had been fulfilled.
Scott’s presentation concluded with audience interaction and their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about whether or not King’s dream is still alive today. Members of the audience proclaimed their ideals for American society and its current ills.
Even if some members’ suggestions lacked practicality, they still reflected an important part of the essence of Dr. King’s message in his “I Have A Dream” speech; an ideal society free of all racism.
Scott echoed the infamous words of Dr. King’s speech, “One day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
The concept of an ideal society and the demonstration that the audience still had dreams for a country without racism painted a perfect picture that King’s dream does indeed still live on. A new generation of dreamers is the very necessary base upon which to continue to build and expand on King’s monumental work in improving American society and race relations.
“I know things are better in this country because I was born in 1955,” Scott said. “We need to become more tolerant of difference and less tolerant of what’s wrong.”
Shaneka Roberts, president of the Black Student Union at WCU, expressed her desire to see more interaction between students on campus. Roberts explained that a gap still seems to exist at WCU between students of different races and that students only associate with other students of the same race.
Scott’s reenactment of Dr. King’s speeches was like being taken back in time to see King deliver some of his most famous words. It was a tribute to a man deserving of more than just one day of recognition a year, a day that is noted as more than a day off from work or school for the American people.
Shane Madden is a fourth-year student majoring in history with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at SM590676@wcupa.edu.