Sunday, March 9, 2008 | 3 a.m.
- MeKenzie Banks recites her poem
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Beyond the Sun
It’s finally her turn. With a glance to the sky, a brilliant smile and hands clasped, MeKenzie Banks, 6, jumps from her seat. She leaves first grade classmates Keshawn Hall, left, and Israel Soito-Mendoza, and confidently takes to the few small steps leading to the stage.
Standing at the front of the stage before a small auditorium packed with students and parents, she recites Countee Cullen’s poem “Hey, Black Child” during the 2008 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Festival at West Prep Academy last week.
For over a month, MeKenzie had practiced every morning and every afternoon with her class, led by teacher Yasmin Stampley.
At the festival MeKenzie recited the poem in just under two minutes, finishing to a room-rattling applause.
In addition to the hearts of the audience, she won second place in the kindergarten through third grade division and took home a foot-high trophy. The large gold star on top beamed almost as brightly as the young speaker.
“My favorite part of the night was when my friend, Andrea E., she came on the stage” and recited her poem, MeKenzie said. “I liked everybody’s. It was fun.”
After all the awards were announced Banks leapt from her seat to the congratulatory arms of a gathering of women, including her mother and her older sisters. They shared hugs and snapped pictures. Then the young star and her entourage left for McDonald’s and a celebratory meal.