Following the inspirational speeches given at this year’s Founder’s Debate, our Year 8 students conducted their own Balloon Debates, speaking as important historical and contemporary figures trying to persuade people to let them stay in a rapidly sinking hot air balloon. Here is a selection of some of the most engaging. Martin Luther King
I , Martin Luther King, was born in 1929, Georgia. A thing you might have not known about me, is that I was born as Michael Luther, but changed my name later on. I grew up in a middle-class family as a middle child. I was a religious leader and social activist who led civil right movements from 1950 to 1968. I also went to college, not at 18 but at 15 years of age since I was such a gifted student and got my Doctorate in Systematic Theology.
Throughout my life, I have faced many challenges. For example, my mother was shot in 1974 and I was imprisoned 30 times, mostly for my beliefs. I have always believed in equality and, during my life, I worked hard to make people understand that all races, not only black, are equal. I gave speeches to encourage Afro-Americans to protest in a non-violent way.
My first protest was on December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger and, as a result, was arrested for violating the city’s segregation laws. Following this incident, a group of civil rights activists decided to contest racial segregation on the city’s public bus system. I formed the Montgomery Improvement Association to boycott the public transportation system. I, who had been pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church for just over a year, was chosen to lead the group. I led the boycott using a nonviolent approach, even though my home was bombed during this period.
Who here has won a Nobel prize? I have. For my non-violent struggle for civil rights. I won this prize a year after my 'I have a dream speech'. In this speech, I outlined the long history of racial injustice in America and encouraged my audience to hold their country, and I quote, ' accountable to its own founding promises of freedom, justice, and equality.’ No matter how badly we were attacked, me and my followers never fought back. You might have heard this a lot, but violence is never the answer. Not ever.
Just after 6 pm on April 4, 1968, I was fatally shot while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. I was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers’ strike and was on my way to dinner when a bullet struck me in the jaw and severed my spinal cord. I was pronounced dead after my arrival at a Memphis hospital. I was 39 years old.
Martina B, Year 8 Malala Yousafzai My name is Malala Yousafzai. I am a human rights activist, especially for a women's right to education and I am here to ask you, who here has been shot because they were a girl who wanted to go to school? Who here has won a noble peace prize at age 17? Who here spoke out against a ruthless group of terrorists to the world as a teenage girl and in doing so risked their life? All of these correspond to me. I am not trying to show off, but I need to convey the importance of my achievements to today’s society. I have one more question: "Who here knows what it is like to be truly afraid?" I was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. In 2007, when the Taliban took control over Swat valley, they restricted everything. They used violence and fear to control us like puppets. I was not going to let them control my life! I was not just another pawn in their sick game of chess! Though they threatened me, I spoke out on television to tell the world what they were doing to us. Though it was increasingly dangerous, I never stopped going to school. When I was 15 my school bus was stopped by the Taliban. One of the armed men asked for me. Though no one said a word, a couple glances were directed at me and they shot me three times in the head. I was airlifted to queen Elizabeth hospital in London. I was in a coma for ten days and in the hospital for months. Against all odds, I was miraculously able to recover from the gunshots. Secretary-General António Guterres designated me as a United Nations Messenger of Peace in April 2017 to help raise awareness of the importance of girl’s education. I am also a proud Oxford graduate. I continued campaigning and I started the Malala Fund. I am still an avid activist; I have never stopped. Not after they terrorised me. Not after the tried to silence me with bullets. Not ever. Mia G, Year 8
Stephen Hawking My name is Stephen Hawking and as you know, this balloon is crashing so I am going to give you reasons why I should stay in the balloon. First of all, I was of great use to the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics thanks to my most famous discovery: the black holes. Without this, these important concepts would make no sense. This was a new way to understand the universe and science. But this did not make me the most important; any theoretical physicist and cosmologist could have discovered this. What makes me important is my disease which stayed with me from 1963 until my death in 2018. My disease is called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis that can also be called as ALS. The ALS affects my nerve cells in my brain and spinal cord leading to muscle weakness and a loss of motor function, paralysis. It can also cause breathing problems, even death. I died from it as so many people around the world. This is why I spent so many years in a wheelchair and you might think that the most reasonable thing to do is to throw me out because the wheelchair weighs too much but if you let me stay I could do so many more things. This disease has taken away from me much of my life; I was never be able to walk or help someone and could have struggled to find purpose. But I found happiness through making new discoveries to help science and the universe. Sophie R, Year 8
I am Abraham Lincoln. I am the 16th US president. I am the one who made slavery illegal, I ended the crime of handling a fellow citizen as a possession. Until I won the US civil war slavery was still legal. People bought innocent people who had been taken from their homes in Africa and forced to be someones slave. Slaves had no rights and their masters were able to kill them if they felt it was right. I thought this was the most barbaric thing ever. Hadn't god created us all as equals? So I set my mission: to make sure every human on earth would be worth the same. I fought the rebelling southern states, risking my reputation to fight for what is right. I faced many obstacles. I suffered family tragedies but still I fought on. I would never give up until my cause was followed and accepted. This is what any strong president would do for the love of the people of the country that they represent, and in doing so I saved millions of lives.
Jan E, Year 8