by Mark Botzong
“My name is Barry Scott, and this is my tribute to Martin Luther King.” This was the mantra of Barry Scott, who on February 9 gave a talk at Whatcom Community College about Martin Luther King Jr. and how he has affected us today.
Introduced as many things including an actor, director, producer, motivational speaker, and voice-over artist, Scott grew up in the time of the civil rights movement. He showed great insight into the everyday struggles of a black American in the 1960s.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech has been hailed as one of the most famous and influential speeches in modern American history. Coupled with putting into practice the philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent protests, King was one of the main leaders of the black civil rights movement of the 1960s. At age 35, he was the youngest to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Assassinated in 1968, King became a hero to many people, especially black Americans, and rose awareness about racism in the country.
“Growing up colored was hard to do in the 60’s,” Scott said. His birth certificate read “colored” when he was born. When he was a young boy, he saw King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and instantly became obsessed with Martin Luther King.
“It sounded to me as if he was singing,” Scott said. One day, his father brought in a 16mm projector and showed him how to thread the film through it. He flipped on the switch and saw King speak for the first time. Scott memorized the speech and ended up reciting it rather nervously to his church.
When Scott was 16, he went to pick up a girl for a date in his family’s car. The car was a stick shift, so the engine bottomed out on the way. While on the side of the road, a police officer pulled up. Relieved at the sight of a cop, Scott began explaining his situation. The cop interrupted him and put a gun to his head. The cop told him to say insulting things about himself and his family. Scott learned that not even the police were on his side.
Perhaps the most moving part of Scott’s speech was his rendition of parts of speeches done by King. He became a completely different person as his voice and mannerisms changed completely. From the speeches that he recited, Scott did a spot-on impression of Dr. King.
Throughout the talk, Scott asked four questions several times: “What do you think? What do you feel? What do you believe? And does it really matter?”
He offered some advice and encouragement to college students at the end and expressed how people at the college age see the injustices in the world, including racism and hate.
“How do you get what you want?” he offered. “Use what you have.” Another bit of advice he shared was, “If you don’t fail, you won’t learn,” and “Be willing to explore.”
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