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Corey Lipkins Jr. was in Houston, Texas, July 5, soaking up the sun and competing in this year’s NAACP’s Afro-, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics.
The accomplishment is a great one for Lipkins, who acknowledged when he was in the fifth grade, he was teased relentlessly because of a speech impediment.
“All throughout elementary , I struggled with a speech impediment, and kids always picked on me for it,” said Lipkins. “They would come up to me with an evil grin, saying, ‘Say girl! Come on, just say it! Say girl!’ My response: ‘Gull.’”
Well, he’s showing them now. Lipkins said he has always wanted to be a performer, anything to do with being on stage. When his fifth-grade teacher asked him to recite a poem by deceased rapper Tupac, he immediately responded that he wasn’t a ‘gangsta,’ but she assured him Tupac wrote more than just ‘gangsta’ verse.
“When she brought me his folder of poems, I immediately was amazed and inspired,” he said. “Although I had a speech impediment, I knew I was going to recite Tupac’s ‘I Cry’ at the (school) Extravaganza, nerves and all. I remember standing on that stage nervous, but empowered. After the applause, I knew I belonged on the stage. It was my first rewarding experience, and it was so natural for me. I knew I loved poetry, but I didn’t know I would become a poet.”
From that event on, Lipkins participated in each grade-level’s Extravaganza, reciting poems he wrote, such as “Grandma,” followed by “Mother’s Love.”
Now the recent graduate of Hoover High School in North Canton, Ohio, Lipkins will take the stage as the first black person from his county in 20 years to compete in the NAACP’s ACT-SO event.
The NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics is a yearlong achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.
“The ACT-SO competition is a national competition where African Americans in grades nine through 12 compete in different areas: sciences, humanities, performing arts, visual arts and business. There are 26 categories, and each student can compete in up to three,” explained Lipkins. “One must compete at the district level and qualify for the state level, which determines whether the contestant will move on to nationals. I qualified for nationals in two categories — dramatics and poetry. I am the first student from Canton to do this since 1994, my year of birth. It is an honor. I am proud of myself, not only for my stage abilities, but also my ability to plow straight through adversity and keep moving forward. I hope I represent my city well!”
In August, he will be headed to The Ohio
to double major in theater and communications.