written by Elaine May, from the novel by Joe Klein ("Anonymous")
Dewayne: I'm -- I'm a short order chef. And uh, until I come here, I couldn't read a lick.
Miss Walsh (Allison Janney): Dewayne's dyslexic.
Dewayne: And uh, they just kept a-passing me up. Third grade, fourth grade and... I just sit in the back, and just stickin' to my own self. And it was like no one noticed. I go on all the ways through and I graduated elementary school. And they sent me to Ben Franklin. That's general studies. Heh, they could've sent me to the Bronx Zoo. I mean, no one ever tell me nothing. No one ever say "Dewayne, you can't read. Whatcha gonna do with your sorry ass?" Excuse me. (clears throat) Anyway, graduation come. And my mama come. She take the day off from the laundry where she work at. So we're there, um, and Dr. Dalembretti is calling out the names on the diplomas and what each kid done. You know, like "Sharonna Harris, honors", "Tyrone Kirby, Regents diploma." And then -- then he come to my name, and uh... he say so everyone hear it -- he say "Dewayne Smith ... receives certificate ... of attendance." You could hear people buzzin', a couple of folks is laughin'. I gotta go up there and get this. I gotta stand up there, just dyin', trying not to look at anyone, trying not to look too stupid, you know? And Mama's sitting out front. She's got her hat on. She got her purse on her lap and tears coming down from behind her glasses... like someone -- like someone died...
(Campaign worker Henry Burton (Adrian Lester) wipes tears from his eyes and then stops in amazement as he sees Jack Stanton, the presidential candidate, crying as well. Jack Stanton stands to touch Dewayne on his shoulder.)
Jack Stanton: I want to thank you for sharing that with us, Dewayne. I want to thank all of you for having real courage. My Uncle Charlie was a war hero, World War II. (sits down again) He was sent to Iwo Jima, you know, where they raised the flag? He took out four machine gun nests of Japs, Japanese soldiers who had a squad of his buddies pinned down. He had one grenade and his rifle and his bayonet and his bare hands and he took 'em out. They gave him the Medal of Honor. President Truman did. And when he came home to Grace Junction, they had a parade for him. And the town fathers came to my parents' house and they said to him, "Charlie, what do got in mind for yourself now?" Charlie said he didn't know. Well, the mayor said, "Maybe you'd like a full scholarship to the state university." And the banker said maybe Charlie didn't want to go back to school after all he'd been through, maybe he'd like a management job, a big future at the bank. And the sawmill owner said, "Charlie, you may not want to be cooped in a school or a bank. Come manage my crew." And you know what? Damned if Charlie didn't turn them all down.
Student: What'd he do?
Jack: Nothin' He just laid down on his couch and smoked his Luckies. You couldn't get him off that couch.
Student: Was he messed up in the head from the war?
Jack: No. It was just that he couldn't read. He couldn't read and he was embarrassed and didn't want to tell anyone. He had the courage to win the Congressional Medal of Honor, but he didn't have the courage to do what each and every one of you is doing right here. He didn't have the courage to admit he needed help and get it. So I want you to know I understand what you're doing, I appreciate it, and I honor your commitment. And people say to me "Jack Stanton, why do you spend so much time and effort on adult literacy?" And I say to them ... I say to them ... "Because... because it gives me a chance to see courage." (there are tears in his eyes again) I want to thank you. I want to thank you for allowing me to visit here today.
(The assembled crowd applauds. Later, we discover that Uncle Charlie is a fabrication.)
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