UNL Atlanta Senior, Terez, Writes Powerful Speech about ‘Selma’ Movie

After seeing the movie ‘Selma’ with her New Look peers, Atlanta 12th grader, Terez Chapman, a student at Carver Early College, was inspired to enter the National Liberty Museum’s Selma Speech-writing and Essay Contest on the theme of individual liberty. If she wins, she will win a $5,000 scholarship. Check out the video or read the full speech below! Great work, Terez!

Greetings, My name is Terez Chapman, I reside in Atlanta, Georgia and attend Carver Early College and am in the 12th grade. On the 19th of January, I viewed Selma with Usher’s New Look at Regal Atlantic Station.

What keeps me going is knowing that my ancestors were strong enough to travel the vast oceans… their blood hammers through my veins”. This is a quote from the movie Selma by Amelia Boynton. These words resonate with me. It serves as a reminder that I am purposeful. As a youth who is a rising citizen, I can assure you that I know how freedom and self- determination looks. This topic is of grave importance and is relevant for any and everyone who plans on utilizing their individual rights. Today, I will be informing you on how we can achieve sustainable freedom,  how self-determination compliments this process and why education is key. So join me on this ride to change.

The first stop on this journey is freedom. Freedom can hold a variety of definitions in different parts of the world. Why can it not have a general meaning?  Freedom, like the word love, is a subjective term that is experienced through different lenses and, therefore, produces different meanings. However, when it comes to a struggle for everyone’s freedoms, it is not necessarily about trying to get to the bottom of what each freedom is. It is about unifying to accomplish a common goal that will open paths for those particular freedoms to become available. I was fortunate enough to attend the Salute to Greatness presented by the King Center and heard former President of the United States Bill Clinton say, “Our common humanity dwarfs our interesting differences.” Unity will call attention to the issue at hand. Relentless repetition will create sustainable practices that will be ever present in many minds. With our individual freedoms on the top of the priority list, we can build the self- determination.

Self- determination is the next destination on our trip. Self-determination requires a drive. The drive being whatever burning force that is within you that motivates you to keep going. When you can declare your individual rights, you have already instilled within yourself what you are determined to accomplish.  Self- determination also means knowing what you are willing to fight for and how far you want to go. For example, in the movie Selma The clergymen and other supporters were very well aware of what they were fighting for and to what means they were willing to go to ensure that they accomplished their goal. This is because you have to be in tune with what you want. Knowing yourself and how you value your rights are another important factor in maintaining your freedoms.

I have spoken of freedom and on self-determination. Lastly is education and what important role it plays. When people are uneducated, there is cluster, confusion, and ultimately chaos. Misunderstandings occur, feelings are hurt, and people become less humane. With education, the playing grounds are leveled because no one is left out in the dark. This is where I come in my community and at school. My role as a peaceful activist resembles a catalyst. While I do my part to spark conversations by educating my peers, I don’t just remain the same. I adapt to their opinions and comments as well.

In conclusion, you have learned how freedom is attainable but has to be a continuous process, why you need the backbone of self-determination, and how education reinforces and emphasizes the protection of these rights. Even though this essay has come to an end, the ride to change is still going.