This is a copy of a speech written by Elise Miller and Gary Jones for the OC 18: Remembering March 6, 1969 event.
I am Elise Miller. I am a native of Dallas, Texas. I am a journalism major. But more than that, I am the manifestation of a dream, a prayer, and a movement.
I am a product of a group of students, deciding 50 years ago today that they would do something far greater than themselves. I am here today because this group of students decided that they would no longer be quiet about injustice, inequality, and inconsistencies. I have a voice because of them and I would not be standing on this stage without them.
I am honored to be in their presence because I am living in what those students only hoped to ask for. The ability to peacefully receive an education. To those students, this simple hope was merely a dream. But now, this dream has become a reality.
I am one, but we are many. We are soon to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, actors, engineers, journalists, artists, nurses, missionaries, ministers, politicians, and so much more. All because of the sacrifice of these 18 students.
I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me. I stand in the strength of Allen, Baldwin, and Burris. I walk in the courage of Brooks, Fisk, and Griffith. I lead in the bravery of Jackson, Wright, and Lewis. I press forward in the confidence of McCauley, Love, and McGuire. And persevere like Edison, Reynolds, and Smith… All with the humility of Lusk, Wilson, and Jones.
Because of the example of these 18, there are no limits to what I can accomplish.
There is no adversity that I cannot overcome. There is no obstacle that will hinder me. It may not be easy. It may not be simple. It may not be free. But, regardless of the cost – the blueprint has been laid.
Like those before me, I will carry on the mission, the mission of leaving this world in better shape than the way I inherited it. Every person in this room has the ability and a responsibility to make a difference. Every person in this room has the power to change the world, the power to make an impact as these heroes did 50 years before.
50 years ago today, I wonder where I would have stood. In a jail cell? In solidarity with my brothers and sisters? Or maybe in my dorm room too afraid to come outside. Regardless, 50 years later I have a voice, and I intend to use it for good.
David reminds me in Psalm 139 that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, all of us are, so I know ANYTHING is possible!
I am Elise Miller. I am a native of Dallas, Texas. I am a journalism major. And I am here because of the bravery, courage, and sacrifice of OC’s 18. Thank you.