State Rep. Antonio Parkinson gives commencement speech to Middle College High School graduates Saturday

Published: May. 21, 2023 at 12:48 AM CDT|Updated: May. 21, 2023 at 7:20 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Middle College High School graduated 68 students on Saturday at The Orpheum Theater in Downtown Memphis.

State Representative Antonio Parkinson delivered a moving commencement speech to the 2023 graduates, one of which was his very own daughter.

“It’s important to remember that no one else has the same story as you,” Representative Parkinson said in his speech. “And no one has the same purpose as you.”

Parkinson’s story is certainly unlike anyone else’s. During his speech, he described his senior year of high school in 1986 as one of the lowest points in his life.

“I was not able to walk at my graduation,” Parkinson said. “I had been kicked out of two high schools my senior year, wasn’t able to rely on my mother and didn’t even know who my father was—but look at me today.”

“I’m happy he was able to have a different moment with me today than he did himself,” said Kierstyn Parkinson. “It was a really bitter sweet moment for me.”

“Delivering a commencement address at my daughter’s graduation makes up for every single thing that appeared to be lost back then,” said Representative Parkinson.

“These 12 past years. Seeing all of my hard work all come together was everything to me.”

The symbolic gesture of moving the tassle from right to left was also an emotional moment for Andre Fields, who plans to attend Morehouse College to study mechanical engineering.

“Seeing all of my hard work over the last 12 years come together was everything for me,” Fields said.

“I am very emotional,” said his mother Andrea Fields. “I am so, so proud of him.”

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