Liberty and Justice
© Copyright 2018 by Naheem Watson
Honorable Mention--2018 Biographical Nonfiction
My name is Naheem Watson and I am in 10th grade. My short story is titled Justice and Liberty, and is about a boy, named Trayvon, who decided to not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and the repercussions he faced. This book is aimed toward a younger audience, for instance middle schoolers or advanced elementary students. I was inspired to write about this topic because my friend, who goes to a different school than me, had a similar experience to Trayvon when she decided to not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. She was thrown out of her classroom by her teacher and her education was disrupted. After hearing her story, I knew what I had to write about.
Trayvon arrived at school early, he always had. Being punctual is just part of his personality. However, Trayvon did not arrive at school as himself, he arrived an activist. Even at this young, adolescent age, his planned actions could cause some controversy. Nevertheless, Trayvon was committed, to his radical goal.
First period Trayvon had social studies, with Mr. Fishel. He was the first to arrive, other than Mr. Fishel of course. Trayvon sat down, in his assigned seat, speaking only one word to Mr. Fishel.
“Hello" Trayvon said.
“Good morning, Trayvon” said Mr. Fishel
Other students started arriving to class, one after another until it was eight o’clock and the entire class was filled with bright middle schoolers. All of them, including Trayvon, had their books out and ready with pens and pencils, talking at a reasonable level with their friends.
Their conversations were interrupted by Mr. Fishel yelling “Shhhhhhhhh the announcements are on.”
“Good morning Springfield Junior High..”, said Principal Lewis and he continues with, “I hope you all are having a marvelous morning and please stand for the pledge of allegiance.”
This is it, this is the moment Trayvon has been waiting for. Trayvon’s stomach dropped as if he was on the steepest of all roller coasters.
Everyone stood for pledge their allegiance, to a country with liberty for all. Everyone stood up, except Trayvon. “I pledge allegiance to the flag…” they began.
“Trayvon, please stand.” Mr. Fishel said sternly.
“I have decided not to stand Mr. Fishel. This is a form of peaceful protest against the injustices my race faces in America” said Trayvon, as if he was years older than an eighth grader.
“...and to the republic, for which…” the class continues through their morning ritual as if their brains were wired to the chant from saying it so many times.
“I do not care if this is a protest or not, you are being defiant and you need to respect what I say as your teacher. Now, stand Trayvon or you will be thrown out of my classroom!”
“I refuse,” Trayvon said, with all the eyes of the students locked on him as if there was a force keeping them from looking away. “... with liberty and justice for all.” the class finishes.
There was a brief moment of silence, the class was shocked. Mr. Fishel stood with a face of astonishment, that Trayvon dared to disobey him. This face shortly turned into anger.
“OUT OF MY CLASS THIS INSTANCE!” Mr. Fishel screamed at the top of his lungs.
Trayvon was stunned. He knew that teachers would not be so accepting of his sitting for the pledge of allegiance, but he would never have thought he would be thrown out of class. The students in Trayvon’s classes were expected to be the best of the best, with little disciplinary action needed to be taken on them. Trayvon had never been thrown out of class or gotten in trouble, even when he was talking too much during class. At this moment, Trayvon knew that he has a choice to make, keep fighting or to give in and apologize.
Trayvon walks outside of the of the class, as Mr. Fishel instructed him so. Mr. Fishel came out and told Trayvon to go to the Timeout room, the place naughty students go and to await their punishment, allowing the class to go on without them.
“I will come during third period, which I will not have a class. We will take this problem directly to the principal. Your actions will have consequences.” said Mr. Fishel
Going to Timeout was one of fear, he was anticipating the worst to happen. Trayvon had never been to the Timeout room.
Once Trayvon arrived at his destination, he was greeted by an evil stare from the short, wrinkled Mrs. Taylor teacher. She was the kind of teacher to make students sit up straight in class and make you memorize your presentations. Her eyes could pierce through your soul and her words could make the strongest of students cry like a baby. She personified strictly and was the bane of Springfield Middle’s existence. It troubled him to be in time-out, not just because of this menacing teacher and being in Time-out, but also because he was missing class.
“Why do I have to miss my classes and wait here for Mr. Fishel?” Trayvon pondered as found a chair and desk to sit at.
After what felt like centuries, Mr. Fishel finally arrives at the Time-out room and takes Trayvon to the principal office.
Trayvon sits down in the green, wobbly chair in his principal’s, Principal Lewis’s, office.
Mr. Fishel told Principal Lewis everything, only making Trayvon look a thousand times more disrespectful.
“That is not how it happened, I was simply doing what I thought was right!” Trayvon pleaded. However, Principal Lewis would not listen, he believed every word out of Mr. Fishel’s mouth.
After the meeting was over, Trayvon’s mother came to pick him up from school. On the car drive home, Trayvon expected his mother to yell at him and tell him he was wrong for what he did, but she did not. Trayvon’s mother instead said, “You are only in 8th grade, where did you get the idea for a protest that?”.
“Well… I, um... I was watching youtube last night and a video popped up in my recommended, so I clicked on it. It was titled ‘Why you Should NOT Stand for the Star Spangled Banner’. It talked about how it was racist and how standing for it would be supporting racism.” answered Trayvon
“Oh? You did research! Well, how did you get to the pledge of allegiance from the star-spangled Banner?”
“Well, in the video they also pointed to the lyrics ‘with liberty and justice for all’, in the Pledge of Allegiance, as it is not an accurate representation of America today. There are still cases where people are unjustly treated by police and the justice system. They said we shouldn’t be saying these words until there are true liberty and justice for all in America there” replied Trayvon. “I’m sorry mommy, maybe I shouldn’t have done it, Principal Fishel gave me 2-days suspension for being a ‘disruption’ to class. I’m so sorry, please don’t ground me!” said Trayvon in begging tone.
“What?! Of course, I’m not grounding you!” said Tray’s mom.
“Wait, really?!” said a surprised Trayvon
Trayvon’s mother replies, “Tray, no matter how much trouble you get in at school, I will never punish you for standing up for your rights. Never, and I mean never, allow someone to prohibit you right to protest. Standing up, or sitting down in this case, for what you believe in is not wrong, no matter who tells you otherwise. This was not a lost, I will be having a meeting with your principal and Mr. Fishel tomorrow and I will not let them do this to you!”
Trayvon silently sat in astonishment, stunned by what his mother had just said.
“Now Tray, let’s stop for ice cream, what flavor do you want?” asked his mother.
The mention of ice cream was enough to snap Trayvon out of his shocked position, “Of course I choose cookie dough, it’s my favorite.”
“You got it!” assured Trayvon’s mother.