photographed by Camilo José Vergara

10 year old undocumented honor student Ana Paulina has a story, a story of how she fled gun violence in Mexico in order to make it to America, a story of a child who hopes,  a story of a child who DREAMS.  On August 28th, 2011, 48 years after Rev. Martin Luther King announced to the nation: “I Have A Dream,” Ana Paulina stood on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol, a block away from Rev. King’s former church, and told the world her story and her dream.

Her dream is not a dream of hate but a dream of love, a dream not of Alabama as it is but a dream of America as it should be, a dream not limited to her but a dream also found in Rev. Martin Luther King’s dream, in the American dream, in the dreams that every parent has for their sons and daughters, undocumented or not.  Ana is undocumented and her dream does not include Alabama’s HB56, which does not allow her to attend college, seek medical care, nor receive the most basic forms of charitable assistance, transportation, or even housing.

Ana along with Rev. Graetz, who helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott alongside Rev. King, spoke at VamosTogether’s “I Have a Dream” March on the State Capitol for Immigrant and Hiv Justice.  Ana just wishes to live in Rev. King’s Beloved Community and to be treated like a child of God.  Hopefully, her words stir the conscience and the best in all of us- the text of her speech in English and Spanish follows:

“Tengo un Sueno/I Have a Dream”
by Ana Paulina

Good afternoon to each and everyone present here.

My name is Ana Paulina and I am 10 years old. I was born in a small town in Mexico. For the last 4 years I have been living here in Montgomery with my parents and my two brothers.

Today I write, read and speak English, but at first it was very hard to learn another language, another culture, make new friends and become part of a society which was new to me.

I have few memories of my country, but there is one that I will probably never forget. One day while I was playing with other children outside my house, a few men with guns began shooting. I remember that we all ran to hide somewhere safe. I just heard the noise of the shooting but after it all ended I could see the streets covered with bullet caps. The walls and door of the neighbor houses had holes in them. That was one of the last memories before we migrated here.

I know my family is not the only one who has experienced this. I am know how blessed I am to be able to talk about it just as bad memory.

I am very happy in this country and we have been treated well so far. However I know how this law will change the way we live. I already see how the new law is being used as an excuse for some to discriminate and judge whether I will be a criminal or not based on my race or my looks.

I am a child and I am just learning about the world. But I feel confused. I learned in school about universal children rights. Right to have a family, right to play, right to be happy, not to be mistreated or humiliated, the right not be discriminated against, right to go to school and right free speech. It doesn’t make sense to me how can they create a law that goes against all those rights.

Last year in school we had a cultural festival where all the students from different countries and races were showing everyone about their culture. We saw dances, songs and poems from all over the world. It was a happy day and nobody asked if you were illegal or not.

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day we will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Today, I have a dream.

THANK YOU.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Yo Tengo Un Sueno” de Ana Paulina

Buenas tardes a todos y todas presentes.

Mi nombre es Ana Paulina y tengo 10 anos.  Yo nací en un pueblo pequeño en México.  Por 4 anos he vivido aquí en Montgomery con mis padres y mis dos hermanos.

Hoy yo escribo, leo, y hablo en Ingles, pero al inicio fue muy difícil aprender otro idioma, otra cultura, hacer nuevos amigos y hacerme parte de una sociedad totalmente nueva.

Tengo pocas memoria de mi país, pero hay uno que probablemente nunca voy a olvidar.  Un día mientras estuve jugando con los otros niños afuera de mi casa, unos hombres con pistolas empezaron a tirar balazos.  Yo recuerdo que todos corrimos a un lugar seguro para escondernos.  Yo solamente escuche la ruida de las pistolas pero cuando todo se acabo yo pude ver la calle cubierta de balazos.  Las paredes y la puerta de mis vecinos tuvieron hoyos.  Eso fue unas de mis ultimas memorias antes de nuestra migración aquí.

Yo se que mi familia no es la única que ha tenido esa experiencia.  Yo se que tengo muchas bendiciones por ser capaz de poder hablar de eso como solamente una mala memoria.

Estoy muy feliz en este país y hemos estado tratado bien hasta ahora.  Pero yo se que esta nueva ley cambiara nuestro modo de vivir.

Ya puedo ver como la nueva ley se esta usando como una excusa para algunas personas discriminar y juzgar si voy a ser una criminal o no basado en mi raza o mi apariencia.

Yo soy una niña y estoy iniciando mi aprendizaje sobre el mundo.  Pero yo siento confundida.  Yo aprendí en la escuela sobre los derechos humanos universales de niños.  El derecho de tener una familia, el derecho de jugar, de ser feliz, de no estar maltratado ni humillado, el derecho de no estar discriminado, el derecho de asistir una escuela y el derecho de hablar con libertad.  No tiene sentido que pueden hacer una ley que va en contra de todos esos derechos.

El ano pasado en la escuela tuvimos una fiesta cultural donde estudiantes de otros países y razas demostraron a todos su cultura.  Vimos bailes, canciones, poemas por todo el mundo.  Fue un día muy alegre y nadie nos pregunto si estuvimos ilegal o no.

“Yo digo a ustedes hoy, mis amigos, que aunque tengamos dificultades hoy y mañana, todavía tengo un sueno.  Es un sueno bien arraigado con el sueno Americano.

Yo tengo un sueno que un día esta nación levantara y vivirá la verdadera sentido de su credo: ‘Mantenemos que esos ciertos son evidentes: todos los hombres son creados iguales.’

Yo tengo un sueno que mis cuatro hijos pequeños un día vivirán en una nación donde no serán juzgado por el color de su piel pero por el contento de su carácter.”

Hoy, yo tengo un sueno.

GRACIAS.

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