Principal Clark's Address Before the Minimum Basic Skills Test March 3, 1989
Principal Joe Clark speaks to the students of East Side High before taking the test to boost their confidence to prove wrong those who look down on them. Principal Clark is played by Morgan Freeman in the inspirational film "Lean On Me."
Alright people, here we are. In one hour, you are going to take an exam administered by the State to test your basic skills and the quality of education at East Side High. I want to tell you what the people are saying about you and what they think about your chances. They say you're inferior! You are just a bunch of niggers and spics and poor white trash! Education is wasted on you! You cannot learn! You're lost! I mean all of you! I want all the white students to stand up. All my white students, stand up. Stand up. C'mon, stand up. These are my white children and they're the same as all of you! They've got no place to go, if they had, they'd have abandoned us a long time ago like everybody else did. So, here they are in East Side High, just like the rest of us. You can sit down. Are you getting my point, people? Is it beginning to sink in? We sink, we swim, we rise, we fall, we meet our fate together! Now, it took the help of a good, good friend to make me know and understand that and I do understand that and I'm grateful. I'm eternally grateful. And now, I've got a message for those people out there who've abandoned you and written you off! Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Good! You are not inferior! Your grades may be, your school may have been. But you can turn that around and make liars out of those bastards in exactly one hour when you take that test and pass it and win! So here's what I want you to do. When you find your thoughts wandering, I want you to knuckle back down and concentrate. Concentrate! Remember what's at stake and show them what East Side High's all about: a spirit that will not die!