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"I really felt the environment that was around me was empowering," Ponds said, noting the Advisory Fendi Logo Hobo Bag

Fendi Tote Yellow

Fendi Tote Yellow

In his fascination with King, Ponds memorized all of his speeches.

And like King, Ponds said he grew up with a "prayerful foundation," being nurtured by sermons and stories of the civil rights struggle by his pastor, the late Jackson E. Jones and his grandfather, a deacon, Lawrence Ponds Sr.

"I already knew that he was going to be something special, because he showed it from his heart," said Wayne Beechum, Ponds' father.

"She made sure my head was always in a book," Ponds said.

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According to Ponds' mother, Linda Ponds Beechum, when Bernice King, daughter of King, visited the area in 1996, she met Ponds and invited him to meet other members of the King family, including the late Coretta Scott King.

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Fendi Tote Yellow

Committee for Urban Revitalization Equity (A CURE) gave him his first speaking platform.

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Fendi Tote Yellow

Ponds added it was his grandmother, Elizabeth Ponds, who really anchored him in King's legacy.

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"You didn't have to push him. No, it was from his heart," he added, regarding giving speeches.

In 2000, by the invitation of Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King III, Ponds spoke at an international conference on nonviolence.

felt the environment that was around me was empowering," Ponds said, noting the Advisory Committee for Urban Revitalization Equity (A CURE) gave him his first speaking platform.

Ponds said he remembered being 6 years old, reading books at his grandmother's behest and stumbling upon one that included one of King's speeches.

Ponds, 27, who was born and raised in the area, picked up public speaking at a young age. At 7 years old, Ponds was standing on local platforms and stages reciting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech.

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"Mrs. King had a chance to hear him speak and she was overwhelmed and ever since then, until her death, she had Jeremy into everything that she was doing," Ponds Beechum said.

Ponds became a local point of contact for children who wanted to know more about King as well as adults who had heard about Ponds' dedication to memorizing King's speeches.

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Ponds said community leaders such as Hattie Burch, James McCalister, the Rev. Rufus Wood Jr. and Alvin Peters helped "develop and polish me."

Beechum said he would invite friends over at nighttime to hear his son recite King's speeches.

A little later on, at a book fair at Oakland Terrace Elementary, he was confronted by a literary King again.

"And he'd throw it right at them," Beechum said.

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Wayne Beechum, Ponds' father, knew his son would be a leader.

Ponds said community leaders such as Hattie Burch, James McCalister, the Rev. Rufus Wood Jr. and Alvin Peters helped "develop and polish me."

And like King, Ponds said he grew up with a "prayerful foundation," being nurtured by sermons and stories of the civil rights struggle by his pastor, the late Jackson E. Jones and his grandfather, a deacon, Lawrence Ponds Sr.

"I started reading about his life and started reading about, particularly, his role in the civil rights movement and how it affected, not only just him, Fendi Tote Yellow but people who were disenfranchised," Ponds said. "Just seeing the reaction the people gave him at the march on Washington" was very inspiring.

Ponds, 27, who was born and raised in the area, picked up public speaking at a young age. At 7 years old, Ponds was standing on local platforms and stages reciting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech.

Fendi Tote Yellow

Fendi Tote Yellow

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