Barbara Robinson walked through history from the assassination of John F. Kennedy to Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty to Dr. Martin Luther King's dream of equal opportunity.
Like a charismatic preacher shouting from the pulpit, she punctuated each challenge with "fight on."
Adults and peers during the MLK Social Action Committee's Oratorical Contest on Jan. 18 at Rich Fork Baptist Church were drawn to her passion, shouting "fight on" with her.
Robinson, a senior at Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy, won first place, which includes the W.E. Banks Scholarship.
"I heard her practicing in the night," said her father, Alvin.
With each shout of "fight on" he couldn't help but beam with pride because his baby girl had been fighting all her life. She was born two months early.
"The doctors said she won't grow," he said. "Might not develop. Faced with all that, she grew up to be 5-9 and a basketball star. She really fought on."
And the fight continues.
Barbara injured the meniscus in her right knee late last season. She was unable to play this season, but that has not stopped college recruiters from contacting the honor roll student who holds a 3.75 GPA.
She is considering several basketball scholarships, Alvin added.
While athletics is a family affair, it's not the most important.
"If you put God first and then school, everything else will fall in place," Alvin advises his daughter, noting that superstar status can be lost, "but if you've got education, they can't take that away from you."
All the participants in the oration contest gleaned high praise, but Barbara ... there was just something special about her, noted Pam Jackson, a member of the MLK Social Action Committee
She appeared comfortable, confident and poised as she presented her oration, despite the boot walking cast she wears because of the injury.
According to the guidelines, orations, three to five minutes in length, must include this theme: justice without violence, reconciliation without humiliation and redemption without destruction.
"Creativity, substance, research, presentation and overall delivery were good," said Jackson. "She seems determined. She came last year and watched one of her peers compete which motivated her to compete this year."
Jackson feels that Barbara can do anything she sets her mind to.
Despite Barbara's injury, she coaches sixth grade AAU basketball. She wants to obtain her doctorate of psychology and open a practice for women and children. She's also inspired to coach on a high school or collegiate level.
While the future remains open, she is certain she will always fight for equality for all, just as the man she honored with her speech.
"In order to truly redeem ourselves we must first learn to love everyone who may seem to be against us because we must fight on. As we begin to step into lines to place our ballots, we must fight on.
"Even as others may say things in order to try and extinguish the fire that has been placed with us, we must not act in destructive ways because we must … fight on."
Church: Greater Tabernacle Worship Center
School: Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy
Parents: Alvin and Gwendolyn Johnson Robinson
Siblings: Kayla, Sheila and Alvin Robinson II
Grandfather: Robert L. Grier
Grandmother: Apostle B.J McCloud