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Watch: Real World History student's speech

February 7, 2017

(Photo credit: Sammy Magnuson/ Center for Inspired Teaching)

“I am a feminist. I am a Black feminist. From the earliest times of history, women like me have been marching alongside our brothers, carrying them on our backs while we toiled the land, picking them up and nursing them back to life when a racist world shot them down, bailing them out of jail for convictions that were probably motivated by the color of their skin, leading movements — only to have you, Black boy… use your male privilege to hurt Black women.”

This winter, Real World History student Maya Branch gave a speech as part of the Project Soapbox competition, making a case for fighting Black hyper-masculinity. Real World History encourages students how to think, not what to think, in a class that models engaging, competency-based education. In this 2-minute speech, Maya demonstrates her ability to connect history to the issues that matter to her today, along with a mastery of the skills of historians such as critical thinking and persuasive communication.

Project Soapbox is a public speaking competition held every year, facilitated by Mikva Challenge. (Real World History instructor Cosby Hunt serves on the Mikva Challenge DC Advisory Board.) The purpose of the competition is to call “young people to speak out on issues that affect them and their communities.” The 2016 prompt was:

The soapbox speech originates from the days when speakers would elevate themselves to an audience by standing on a wooden crate, or soapbox, to make an impromptu speech about a political topic or community issue. This speech gives the opportunity to persuade the audience to understand, care, act, vote, or speak out on an issue that affects the community.

This election season your voice matters, and Mikva Challenge wants you to get on that soapbox and tell the next president about an issue that affects your community. Your speech might offer a solution, create awareness, ask the audience or elected officials to act, or call the president to action. In two minutes or less, what is the most pressing issue facing young people today, why is it important, and what should be done to address it?

Project Soapbox provides a free curriculum to teachers on their website and hosts a YouTube channel with examples of previous speeches. Learn more at the Mikva Challenge website.

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