A guard brought me to the classroom where I’d be speaking. I asked, “How many will be here?” He said, “Thirty-one.” I thought, “Wow, you have trouble talking to your own two kids.”
At the front of the empty classroom I paused to get my bearings. My prayer went something like this, “Well, here I am. Thank you for leading me, animating me. Show me how I express your wisdom. Keep reminding me that each one that comes into this room belongs to you. Please, put your words in my mouth.”
Then the procession began. Thirty-one of them, hands behind their backs, slowly made their way to rows of chairs. Thirty-one orange jumpsuits. Four young women. Twenty-seven young men. All in their teens, except two boys, age ten.
Thirty-one. Not one smile. Not one hello. Their body language screamed, “Disdain.”
I was introduced: “This is Mr. Wommack. He’s here to talk with you. Listen up. If you make a noise, disrupt, slump in your seats, or are in any way are out of order you will lose all privileges the rest of the day.”