A motivational speaker took a moment of disrespect during his speech and turned it into a lesson.
According to Pix11, Eric Thomas, a.k.a “The Hip Hop Preacher,” spoke off script during a speech he gave at Vashon High School in St. Louis on Feb. 22. According to the video, Vashon is one of the lowest performing schools in the district. Thomas was discussing how he was homeless for two years before meeting a preacher and turning his life around, when a group of students began to speak when he was speaking. After asking them to stop, they continued, giving Thomas his platform to teach an entirely different lesson.
“Listen to me very closely. They pay me $50,000 to $100,000 when I speak to corporate America. I go to a basketball program and they pay me good. I ain’t getting a dime here,” he started his passionate spiel with. “I’m here because I love you, but I’ll be darned if I come here for free and you disrespect me.”
Then, things got real.
“You got the nerve to act the fool when somebody cares about you? You’re talking when I’m talking. Do you know that if I go to a Jewish school, those kids are quiet. If I go to a white school, those kids are quiet. If I go to a Latino school, those kids are quiet. The only kids that disrespect me are black kids. That’s it, my own, are the only ones who disrespect me. I work in any other school and they’re taking notes. I come home, you’re talking. You’re capping jokes. You think something is funny. Look how we’re living. Ain’t nothing funny. Ain’t nothing funny y’all.”
Thomas later said that the students need to take school seriously because people like him want to see black youth succeed in a world that tries to make them fail.
“I ain’t stupid. You take everything from us and we still survive,” he said. “You want to tell me that we can’t learn how to write? Have you lost your mind? We are survivors. That is all we do is survive. And you’re gonna come and tell me that you can’t take a test. No, you can take the test. The problem is that when you take the test, you barely take the test. I challenge you to go in there and get that doggone piece of paper and pencil and do your best. I challenge you to go into class and act like you got some sense. No one has to put you on medicine. You know how to sit down and shut up. You do it when you’re watching videos.”
The vid ends with “always know where you’re going, but never forget …where you come from.”
Check out this incredible moment below.