Students from Nashville’s Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School were recently invited to our Civil Rights Room to participate in a unique and compelling exercise. They were asked to choose one of the following six topics: race, age, gender, identity, class, and social justice. The students were then asked to spend three minutes walking around the Room to ponder what they saw through the lens of their chosen word.

These are their words…

  • “Judge me not in the past, but in the future.”


  • “Not every white American is racist. The flag says we’re equal. But are we?”


  • “My black race makes me stronger.”


  • “Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I can’t be in power.”


  • “Is my son next?”


  • “My identity does not mean I’m violent.”


  • “Just because we don’t have the same skin doesn’t mean we are not the same.”


  • “I’m black, not a target.”


  • “Just because I’m free doesn’t mean I’m really free.”


  • “Imagination is the key to a great nation.”


  • “I wouldn’t fight for it if it didn’t mean something to me.”


  • “Just because I’m a young black man doesn’t make me a threat.”


Below is a list of excerpts we’ve compiled from the subsequent speeches they wrote before their experience in the Room:


  • “I have a dream that when I’m a mother, my black child will be safe. I have a dream that my son will not fear walking down the street. I am passionate about this because my children will be black citizens. We can start showing that just because we are black does not mean that we rob, gangbang, rape, fight, live on wellfare, wear weaves, etc. I have strong feelings about this because we are a smart people; we are powerful. We are beautiful kings and queens. I want my children to know that. I want them to know that being black does not mean we are hopeless, lost, and damaged people.”

– Tamalria Santos


  • “We, the People refuse to sit back and let Dr. King’s dream and work fade into thin air. We refuse to let the white man’s law enforcers kill our well-educated black men just because they are black. I have a dream that one day the color of your skin will not define what your job is or where you are supposed to work. I have a dream that one day the people of the world will be at peace and not discriminate against each other.”

– Anthony Lindsley


  • “I have a dream that one day our nation will not hate the gay community, but instead treat them like any other human being. I have a dream that one day the gay community will be treated right and with respect. I have a dream that one day our people will realize that judging someone by their gender isn’t right.”

– Kenzie Bandy


  • “I have a dream to have a beautiful black family. I’ll have a handsome black husband and some beautiful black children; but I fear that my black son or my black husband might be at the wrong place at the wrong time, or might just look suspicious to a cop and won’t make it home to me. I have a dream that one day racism will be dead. We will be able to live free without hatred and without being scared that our black sons and husbands won’t make it home.”

-Clarissa Blevins


  • “Why be scared of a person who puts his pants on just like you? No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin, or their background or religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than does its opposite. I have a dream that one day this nation will accept its mistakes and learn from the harsh trials its been through. I have a dream that one day this nation will learn to not to judge, and instead learn to love.”

– Kavarious Finch


  • “I am proud of who I have become in this world. Are you? What I am not proud of is how the ones who are here to protect us are the ones killing us. I have a dream that one day this nation will be together and stand as one. I have a dream that one day people won’t be arrested for the color of their skin before they are arrested for any crime they’ve committed. When this happens, America will stand as one and will work together; and when that happens, then we can make America great.”

– Shayne Thompson


  • “It’s hard to believe that things that happened in the past still exist. I have found memories of sadness in people’s eyes. Imagine our poor fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers who worked so hard to make America the way it is today. I have a dream that every lonely child will find a friend who loves them the way they are. I have a dream that we will learn how to listen half as well as we judge. I also have a dream that we will all be recognized as the storyteller and not just the listener.”

– Kadia Gbla