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Movement Eight: Top Of The Mountain

When Chamber member Rosalva King came to Memphis from Mexico years ago, she had help in learning her new country’s ways. But many immigrants face assimilation, and a bewildering quest to full-fledged citizenship, alone. As an aspiring small business owner, she decided to help. Meet Rosalva and watch as the culmination of her work unfolds inside the Memphis courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Bernice B. Donald when one of Rosalva’s customers, Salvador Sauceda, joins with others to officially become an American citizen.

Here is Rosalva in her own words:

How many stripes are in the flag?

Who wrote the “Star-Spangled Banner?”

Who is the President of the United States?

They will ask you 10 questions and you have to have six right to pass. And then if you are approved, you are a candidate for your citizenship.

A permanent resident will come to my office and say, “I want to apply for citizenship and I need your assistance, because I can understand some things but I don’t understand everything.”

We assist people filling out the forms that they submit to the immigration office, and we translate documents. What I do in my office is to help immigrants, first of all, with the paperwork. But besides that, I want them to learn how the system works here in this country.

When I got married, I came to this country, and my husband was in politics then. He helped me a lot to be incorporated into this society. He did it with a lot of love. And that’s how I started getting used to going to different places, even to go to the grocery store by myself.

Even though I don’t have any family, when I came here, I felt that I was welcome. Because I have chosen to be here, and I said, “I want to be happy here.” And I’m happy. I’m happy in Memphis.

When I became a U.S. citizen, I felt that’s a privilege that this country gives us.

It’s so impressive, it’s so touching when we become a U.S. citizen.

For a lot of people, it’s really hard to pass the test. One of my friends cried at the end of the interview. She said, “It was very hard for me to get to this point.” So when she went to the ceremony, she cried again… because she had gotten to the top of the mountain when she became a U.S. citizen.

I want to capture the moment when they become U.S. citizens because they feel so proud. That’s something that is going to stay in their house, and they will always remember with a picture the day they became a U.S. citizen.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Saturday, or Sunday, or a Wednesday… you always see somebody working. We need to feed our families. We need to work. It doesn’t matter what time it is. We came here to work.

When I listen to the American anthem, I get the chills anytime, anywhere in the world. I feel I am a part of this country.

I feel that’s my anthem now.


Robert Patterson grew up in Memphis. He first studied horn with Richard Dolph in Memphis and later with Robert Fries at Oberlin College. During the 1980s he lived in Memphis but played in the MSO only as a sub. He became a regular member in 1994. In addition to playing the horn, Patterson is also a composer. He has written works in a wide variety of genres, including works for orchestra the the Memphis Symphony has performed. For "Star-Spangled Dreams," Patterson says he felt direct references to the National Anthem were appropriate in his score after observing the deeply felt patriotism of Rosalva King and her clients. He says his composition is meant to reflect the aspirations of everyone who seeks to become a U.S. citizen.


Scott Moore, trumpet
Barrie Cooper, violin
Jennifer Puckett, viola
Jonathank Kirkscey, cello

Music recorded by Kevin Houston at Music + Arts Recording and Mixing, Memphis

Lance Murphey, cinematography, editing, co-producer
John Hubbell, writer/co-producer

Special thanks to Lucy Cantu, Esperanza King, Salvador Sauceda and his family, Judge Bernice B. Donald and the staff of the U.S. District Court in Memphis, including Chief Deputy Clerk Wendy R. Oliver, and the staff of U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen.

Amy Clithero Gill, John Hubbell, Angela Michaels and Lance Murphey, series producers

John W. Moore, John Duncan, Ryan Fleur and Amy Daniels, executive producers
Posted: 11/12/2010 4:06:59 PM | with 0 comments

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An ongoing collaboration between the Greater Memphis Chamber and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. Underwritten by Duncan-Williams, Inc.