BELTON - T.J. Collins is a 13-year-old 7th grader at North Belton Middle School. But for the month of February, he will be someone else -- every single day.
It all started when Collins went to class dressed as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. When friends and teachers dared him keep wearing the suit, he decided to find a hero to dress up as every day.
Collins has now gone to class as President Barrack Obama, George Washington Carver, Malcolm X, Steve Harvey, Lewis Latimer, and Robert Johnson. He was prepared each day to say exactly what each person accomplished. And Collins has made a rule -- none of his heroes will be athletes because he wants to focus on academic accomplishments.
"I think we focus too much on athletes, we should go and think about people who have academic achievements," Collins said. "It's good that you can do stuff on the football field and the basketball court, but you need to be able to do stuff in the classroom too."
Collins said that his personal heroes are Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because of the journey they went through and the obstacles they overcame. He wants to educate more people about African American culture and accomplishments in the same way Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did.
"Encourage people and tell people about it... If they don't agree with you don't beat them up," Collins said. "My goal is to help people understand black culture... it wasn't just Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, it was more people."
Collins said that the most important thing about his heroes, however, is not their strength or smarts.
"I think leadership... don't say something and be a hypocrite," Collins said. "Be respectful, give resects to everyone, and don't lie... Because if you lie it's hard to trust you."
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