“Don’t go to ACT-SO to compete, go to ACT-SO to celebrate. Celebrate your own talents and celebrate the talents of those around you. If you go to ACT-SO to compete, you will have missed the entire point of the platform.” – Durmerrick Ross
Durmerrick Ross is a five-time national NAACP ACT-SO medalist. He graduated from Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth, Texas in 2016 and currently attends Howard University where he is studying Political Science. He is a social activist who enjoys writing poetry, planning events, and student organizing in his free time. He was initially exposed to the ACT-SO program through his involvement with the local NAACP Youth chapter where he served as President of the Tarrant County Branch. During a time where very few national platforms existed for talented black youth aside from athletics or hip-hop artistry, Durmerrick was especially drawn to ACT-SO because it “redefined and exposed the world to the many intricate facets of Black talent.”
National ACT-SO Medals
In the 2013 national ACT-SO competition, Durmerrick received a gold medal in the Oratory category with his piece titled, “Put ‘Em Up.” In the 2014 national ACT-SO competition, he received another gold medal in the Oratory category with his speech, Do Something. In the 2015 national competition, he competed in both the Oratory and Poetry Performance categories. He was a bronze medalist in the Oratory category and a silver medalist with his poem, “Sometimes, I Pretend,” in the Poetry Performance category. Lastly, at the 2016 national ACT-SO competition, Durmerrick was awarded his final gold medal for his performance of his piece titled, “ACTSO,” in the Oratory category.
Favorite Part About ACT-SO
Durmerrick’s favorite part about the ACT-SO program was being amongst other students with truly brilliant minds: “To know their name, to shake their hand, to experience their talents, to simply be in the presence of greatness is rewarding enough.”
Durmerrick is appreciative of ACT-SO for teaching him that Black talent does not have to be put in a narrow box strictly limited to athletics and entertainment. Participating in the ACT-SO competitions helped him realize that Black talent cannot be confined; it extends into many different kinds of fields. This program gave Durmerrick the reassurance he needed to continue using his gifts to change the world. To this day, Durmerrick still meets people all across the country who remember him from competing the ACT-SO competitions or who simply connect with him as fellow ACT-SO alumni.
Words of Wisdom
“Yes, it is a competition. Yes, there are prizes. But no, there are no “winners.” If anything, there are scholarship and medal RECIPIENTS– not winners. Everyone wins because, against all odds, you find yourself sharing a gift, a talent, [and] a skill that, if society had its way, you would never share. So breathe, and just celebrate. Also, talk to everyone. Take pictures with everyone. Congratulate everyone. The person who didn’t win a medal this year may be President of the United States in a few years. It’s a celebration, not a competition. The competition happened locally, relax. Don’t go to win medals; go to win memories, and your experience will be worthwhile.” – Durmerrick Ross