Listen to Ashton Young work a room, and you'll see crowds on their feet and cheering. In January, the 6-year-old, 1st grader at M.A. Evans Grade School in Macon gave a rousing rendition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech after Macon's MLK, Jr. Day Rally.
His teacher says choosing a student to give the speech is done every year, and usually students will only memorize a few minutes. But Ashton went above and beyond. "He said 'I watched Dr. King,' and I wanted to do it just like him," says teacher Chante Roberts.
Instead, Young memorized the whole thing, and delivered the speech with the same inflection and emotions that made it a part of American history. Since then, Ashton's parents have been getting calls from churches across Georgia looking to have their son give his speech.
"We've even been turning down engagements," says Antonio Young, Ashton's father. But while his parents have had to get used to the added attention, Ashton is still very much a 1st grade kid. "When he finishes doing his speech, he goes off to play with his wrestlers and then he goes back to being a little boy," says his mother Cherilyn.
They say Ashton began his interest in preaching by mimicking their music pastor, Jay Terrell. "When our pastor would preach, he would be witnessing to him, and going 'Yeah,' and I'm like what kid three or four years old does that?" Even when he was two, Ashton showed us a picture of him "praising the Lord and preaching" at Chuck-E-Cheese.
Ashton says he still loves doing speech, and says later in life he wants to be either "a wrestler or a preacher," but until then he's embracing the new found fame. At school, he says, "they say hey, Dr. Martin Luther King."
The speech will some full circle for Ashton this Sunday at his home church, Beulahland Bible Church in Macon, where he will headline his speech for civil rights legend Rev. Al Sharpton when he visits their church.
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