We Are the Dream: Learning Lots About History

For Benton Thompson IV, hearing Obama speak is living the dream.

Posted: 08/28/2013 03:59 PM EDT

History and making discoveries are two of Benton Thompson IV's favorite things. That's why the 13-year-old Atlanta native wants to be an archaeologist when he grows up and why the past few days will be forever etched in his memory.

Benton and his classmates from the Ivy Preparatory Young Men's Leadership Academy came to the capital to learn about civil rights and the critical leadership role young people played in the movement. It was an inspiring and eye-opening experience, he told BET.com.

"It seems like people my age back then had the courage to do a lot of things I'm not sure I would have," he said.

When his classmates returned home, lucky Benton was able to stay behind for the final commemoration of the March on Washington. His face lit each time he noted that the president would be delivering remarks today.

"I'm here today to celebrate the 50th anniversary and to hear President Obama speak in the exact place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke," said Benton. "I will see the impact of his speech and how it came to pass."

Fifty years ago, 13-year-olds in southern cities like his were subject to extreme forms of racism, including being hosed down by the police and bitten by dogs, Benton said. An African-American president was an impossible dream that for Benton came true as he waits for his president to take his place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

African-Americans have made great strides toward achieving equality, he said, but 50 years from now, preferably long before then — he hopes the racism that still exists today, however subtle, will be a thing of the past.

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(Photo: Joyce Jones/BET)

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