• Posted on: December 11, 2006

My Experiences at the Martin Luther King III Summit and Pathway to College Tour

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Jessica Reed Essay

On December 15, 2006 we left for Washington DC to have a life changing experience that I will never forget. There were many events that took place on this trip and many lessons were learned. I was one out of the two individuals chosen to go on the East Oakland Youth Development Center’s first trip to Washington DC for the Listening and Learning Summit and the college tours. The purpose for the trip was to attend the Listening and Learning Summit on Poverty in America, and to visit colleges along with spending time with important people, some of which I knew and some who were new to me.

The first day in Washington D.C. was by far my favorite day. We caught a cab from Maryland to go on our first college tour to Howard University. Howard University is my first choice of colleges to attend when I graduate, so when I found out that we were touring the school I was ecstatic. When we arrived we were caught in a thunderstorm but we still got a chance to tour the school. In the beginning of the tour we were given the history of Howard University. It was most interesting to discover that the first four students that attended Howard University were of Caucasian descent. We learned about the different majors that were offered and the basic requirements to get into the university. After hearing the introductory information, our tour guide came and showed us around the school. The campus was beautiful and I fell more in love with it with every step I took. I’m glad that I was able to see the campus because I was able to see what the school really had to offer and I wasn’t forced to download the digital tour online anymore. After we left the tour we found out that we were going to be able to eat lunch with Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Even though we had a hard time getting past security, it was worth it. We got a special tour by Congressman Jackson and walked by “Do Not Enter” signs as if they didn’t exist we and learned information about the building itself that I wasn’t even aware of. The best part would have to be the fact that when he found out that Lanikque and I were applying to schools on the east coast he offered us an opportunity to get an internship working in one of the buildings.

That night we left to go to the “Realizing the Dream” Summit. When we arrived it was time for dinner and right after the dinner, we learned that Dick Gregory, the guest speaker of the night, was going to say a few words on the problems of poverty. Even though he was humorous in his approach, we learned that we have to do something about poverty and that we can’t sit back watching and allowing it to happen. We have to take action and do something to prevent it. Outside of the poverty piece I learned that sleep deprivation was the number one killer of Americans.

The next day we returned to the summit and the main part was a panel discussion with Martin Luther King III and other individuals with knowledge of the problems of poverty in America. Many interesting points were raised, one of which is the fact that women on welfare are being taxed more than a millionaire in Beverly Hills. The other individual that went on the trip, Lanikque Howard went in front of the panel and asked why there weren’t any children on the panel if we are going to have to be part of the solution to stop poverty.

The following day we took a trip to New York to visit New York University, the main reason being that Lanikque’s first choice was NYU. Even though we didn’t have an official tour, it was still informative filled and unlike the tour at Howard we were able to see the dorms. It was also a beautiful campus and it was obviously a school where nothing but education takes place there which is an excellent thing. It was great that we were able to visit New York and do a little shopping being that neither one of us teen had been there before. We were able to ride the Subway, which was an experience in itself. We saw Time Square, Manhattan and also saw the Apollo Theater, which was a great opportunity. To end our night in New York we were able to catch the train the Long Island to see Regina Belle, Ashford and Simpson, and the Whispers. Even though these singers were from another era I still had a good time. When we got backstage passes we felt like celebrities ourselves.

The trip to Washington D.C. was a wonderful experience and I had a good time. I am glad to be the first to go on this trip. I would like to thank anyone and everyone that made this trip possible because it was a wonderful opportunity and an experience that I will never forget. I got a chance to visit my top choice school and also do things that other kids my age could only imagine doing. If wasn’t for the people that made it possible, I too would be one of those kids dreaming about it.

Jessica Reed
December 2006

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