Civil rights, Holocaust memorial speeches win in contest

Saying that his encouragement to be kind inspired her, Jessica Triplett, of Hitchcock, reprised Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s speech “The Perils of Indifference” during the COM Words That Changed History Student Speech Contest. From left, Vice President for Instruction Dr. Pam Millsap, Jessica Triplett and professor Gilchrist White.

Cries for freedom, equality and justice rang out during College of the Mainland’s annual Words That Changed History Student Speech Contest.

Four finalists – Jessica Tripplet, Byron De'von Howard, Christian Tate and Ray Rangel – reprised pivotal speeches in history.

The contest is part of COM’s Quality Enhancement Plan giving students assistance and opportunities to improve their speaking ability, a key skill that employers seek.

Jessica Triplett, 29, of Hitchcock, reprised Elie Wiesel’s speech “The Perils of Indifference,” given in 1999 at the White House.

“It means a lot to me. I’m Jewish, and (Wiesel) was a Holocaust survivor,” said Triplett. “We need more kindness. (The speech) was to help us realize what we did in the past and how maybe we can change the future.”

Christian Tate, 18, of Clear Lake, gave Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” originally delivered in Memphis, Tennessee, one day before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

“I learned a little bit more about what was going on at the time. I looked at Malcolm X’s speech also and I saw two different points of view and what they were trying to achieve,” said Tate. “(His speech) kind of makes sense – if we’re all God’s children, it doesn’t matter what race you are or where you’re from.”

Byron De'von Howard, of Texas City, recited from memory Malcolm X’s speech, “You Can’t Hate the Roots of the Tree.”

“It talks about what it means to be American and living in harmony with one another,” said Howard. “I was shedding tears before I was giving it. It does apply to current times.”

Ray Rangel, of Texas City, presented John Kennedy’s “Moon Speech,” first given at Rice Stadium Sept. 12, 1962.

All four finalists were selected after open auditions, and each received a $100 prize.

“The contest lets students bring oral skills from the classroom into a public forum,” said Gilchrist White, COM professor and QEP coordinator.

For more information about the contest, contact Gilchrist White at gwhite@com.edu or Gary Wilson at  gwilson@com.edu.

Christian Tate, of Clear Lake, gave Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous, final speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” during the COM Words That Changed History Speech Contest. From left, Vice President for Instruction Dr. Pam Millsap, Christian Tate and professor Gilchrist White.
Ray Rangel, of Texas City, presented John Kennedy’s speech with the famous lines, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." From left, Vice President for Instruction Dr. Pam Millsap, Ray Rangel and professor Gilchrist White.
Moved by his own experiences with others helping him succeed, Byron De'von Howard, of Texas City, recited from memory Malcolm X’s speech “You Can’t Hate the Roots of the Tree” during the COM Words That Changed History Speech Contest.

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