King Essay Contests Honored at School Board Meeting

The Grand Rapids Public School Board took a moment last evening to recognize the winners and honorable mention recipients in our 14th annual Martin Luther King, Jr., essay contest.  Diversity Partner Rodney Martin presented each of the winners and honorable mention recipients with a gift card to Schuler Books and Music and a certificate of participation. A personalized certificate of participation will be given to each of the more than 330 students who participated in this year’s contest.

From left to right, First Runner Up Ellouise Lambertson (John Ball Zoo School), Grand Prize winner Roz McBrier (Ridgemoor Park Montessori), and Second Runner Up Henry Robinette (North Park Montessori)

 

The MLK Essay Contest winners and honorable mention recipients who attended the Board of Education meeting.

 

The winning essays are posted here.

Winners of the 2018-19 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest

Warner Norcross + Judd is pleased to announce the winners of its 14th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., essay contest.  The firm conducts the contest each year to honor the legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The contest is open to sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.  The firm received 336 essay submissions from 15 different schools. Essays were judged by more than 50 Warner attorneys and staff in our offices across the state. The essays were evaluated for ideas, organization, style and conventions.

This year’s winners are:

  • Roz McBrier, Ridgemoor Park Montessori, Grand Prize
  • Ellouise Lambertson, John Ball Zoo School, First Runner-Up
  • Henry Robinette, North Park Montessori, Second Runner-Up

Additionally, 22 students from 10 different schools received honorable mentions. They attend Center for Economicology, Grand Rapids Montessori, Grand Rapids Public Museum School, Harrison Park School, John Ball Zoo School, North Park Montessori, Ridgemoor Park Montessori, Riverside Middle School, University Prep Academy and Westwood Middle School.

The winning essays appear below:

Grand Prize 

Roz McBrier 

Ms. Joy’s Class

Ridgemoor Park Montesorri

Keeping Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream Alive

 Imagine a world where we appreciated our differences and treated every human being equally. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream to end racism and provide equal rights for all. We can keep his dream alive by using our right to vote, educating ourselves on other cultures and races, along with being kind and respectful to everyone.

Voting allows us to help choose the leaders who make laws and solve problems. Our leaders are able to make laws that improve people’s lives. When voting, choose a leader that cares about the lives of their people and believes in equal rights for all. On August 26, 1920, women finally earned the right to vote. When women and people of color were finally allowed to vote, their opinions were, and still are, heard and supported by leaders. Voting also helps keep laws in place to protect everyone’s rights.

Learning about other races and cultures leads to a better understanding of others. Try to find something in common with someone different than you. It helps you get along and understand them better. Try to visit new places, attend meetings, or religious services. This first hand experience with other cultures can also help you understand people better. Educate yourself on the correct language to use when describing another person or their origin. If you don’t know the right language, ask. This will make sure that you aren’t being racist by using uneducated terms. Most people have problems or fears of other races simply because they do not understand them. We can eliminate those fears by educating ourselves about other cultures and races.

Every person in this world is different, but being different doesn’t make someone better or worse. Treat others as you want to be treated. Remember to stop and think before you speak or act unkind. Following the golden rule can put us in another person’s shoes so you can understand them and treat them with respect. Don’t laugh at racist jokes or allow another person to be laughed at because of the color of their skin or their culture. When we laugh at racist jokes or allow someone to be treated unequally, we are saying racism is ok and ignoring the problem. If you see someone being treated with disrespect, say or do something to stop it. Reach out to people being left out. Kindness is sitting with the kid who has no friends, asking them about themselves, letting them know that they are not alone. Everyone in this world deserves kindness and respect no matter what race, gender, or culture.

On the whole, ending racism and providing equal rights for all is not a simple task. However, there are ways each of us can help keep Martin Luther King’s dream alive. Voting for leaders that support equal rights, educating ourselves on other races and cultures, and treating every person with kindness and respect are perfect ways to start. Martin Luther King Jr. was quoted saying, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” We should all keep his words as inspiration to keep his dream of equal rights for all alive.


First Runner Up

 Ellouise Lambertson

Mr. John Fordney’s class

John Ball Zoo School

“I have a dream today … I have a dream that one day every valley shall be made love. Rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be fine one day.”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was to end racism and provide equal rights for all. Together we can keep his dream alive by treating people fairly, with equality, and with kindness. There are many simple ways that we can all keep Dr. King Jr’s dream around.

By befriending someone we can keep king’s dream functioning. Just reach out to somebody and ask them if they’d be your friend. Ask them about their hobbies, their family, what they like to do for fun, maybe even invite them to your house. Get to know a person! Slowly and honestly, seeking nothing in return except to know and love them. Your best friend that you never knew might be your neighbor, or even someone in your school! Start small but with purpose, this is how love grows. Encourage others to do the same, it’s best for everyone.

We can also help by paying attention to social issues, find one that troubles you, and work to eliminate it. Don’t ignore the issues of today that make you uncomfortable.  Embrace sympathy, let them trouble you, and let your soul be troubled by the weight of injustice. But even more than that, take action! Volunteer, feed the homeless, donate, or maybe even change the law. Awareness breeds action and action breeds change.

We can serve others. Whether you’d like to admit it or not humans are selfish people, we like thinking that the world revolves around us, but life definitely isn’t that way. You can share your time, money, talents, or passion, but make the decision to share it with others. Even a simple commitment to do something with someone once a week or even once a month will make a difference.

To benefit we can lead by example. Though far from perfect, Martin led by example. He didn’t tell people to march while he lounged on the couch, he marched with them. He showed others the beauty of non-violent protests. We can all do the same at home, at school, at the park, and even in court, wherever you are you have the chance to lead by example. Lead and let your principals guide you. Even if the road seems long, rough, or hard. As Dr. King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others.”

We can have faith in everything even when it seems impossible. Dr. King had many days filled with doubt. He was hopeful, but unsure, prayerful, but sometimes discouraged. This too is our story no matter what battles we face. Dr. King reminds us by his life and his words as he said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” So don’t you dare give up. Believe just as much you do when it’s hard as you do when it’s easy. The persistent beauty of our faith is our greatest legacy.

So as the world celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., don’t count yourself out. You are a part of his legacy whether or not you share his ethnicity or race because his legacy is one of peace, of passion, of service, and of faith. Though Dr. King’s life was marked by hard times, discouragement, and moments of defeat, it was ultimately a life full of courage and grace and that is a legacy we should all pursue to keep. In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, let’s decide to stick with love, hate is too great of a burden to bear.


Second Runner Up

Henry Robinette

Mrs. Ettinger’s class

North Park Montessori

We must all live together as brothers or perish together as fools” Martin Luther King Jr made that statement at the St. Louis speech on March 22 1964. I also believe that we need to live together as brothers and sisters because when something positive happens in our community it all affects us positively, but when something negative in the community it affects us negatively. This speaks to me in many ways.

Positive acts can cancel negative acts out. For example, one of the ways this speaks to me is when I’m feeling really, really down, people cheer me up, then I feel better. We need to learn to forgive each other too or we’ll “perish together as fools”. I figured out if you forgive someone they’ll probably forgive you too, then everything will be alright. Forgiving will always make things better.

When we contribute to our community many benefit. For example, last year part of our school went to an apple orchard and picked apples for Feeding America. The farm we went to, Ridgeview Orchards, donated hundreds of pounds of apples. Feeding America donates food to 490,100 people. That’s helping a lot of people. We had fun and learned about food, and people got fed. Both our school and the people that needed food benefited. Doing one kind thing can affect a lot of people.

Another way this speaks to me is when I’m arguing with someone, especially my friends. We just throw reasons why the other is in the wrong at each other with no compromises or agreements and we just end up angry at each other. I think everybody needs to think about this when they are in a feud with somebody. If we don’t learn to deal with each other, nobody’s ever going to be happy. Being angry at people won’t do anything but bad.

When I see injustice, like families getting separated at the border, it make me sad even though it’s not me. It connects to MLK’s quote not only because they’re literally separating brothers, but also it hurts many people. I can’t imagine getting separated from my family. It also makes other immigrants scared about getting separated from their family too. Injustice doesn’t just affect one person.

Even though this was said 54 years ago MLK’s words are still relevant today, doing kind things will affect the community positively and doing unkind things will affect the community negatively. We all need to try to live as brothers and sisters.

Warner Announces the Awarding of 10 Minority Scholarships

Warner Norcross + Judd this week announced the awarding of ten scholarships to minority students interested in pursuing a career in law.  The Grand Rapids Community Foundation recently awarded Warner Norcross + Judd LLC academic scholarships to two minority students to assist them in furthering their legal studies. A competitive scholarship administered and awarded by the , the Warner scholarship program provides monetary assistance to students to help cover the educational costs associated with a law degree or paralegal studies. The 2018 recipients are:

  • Sumer Ghazala of Troy, the Law School Scholarship to attend the Yale Law School
  • Aneka Montgomery of Detroit, the Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship to pursue her studies at Oakland Community College.

The 2018 winners were chosen by a selection committee at the Foundation based on essays that outlined personal goals and challenges that have drawn them into the field of law. Now in its 18th year, the first Warner academic scholarship established at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation was awarded in 2001.

In addition, Warner Norcross awarded eight minority students with scholarships to attend classes designed to prepare them to take the Law School Admissions Test. Studies have shown that students who take a formal LSAT prep course score higher on the test, which determines entrance into law school.  The LSAT Prep Scholarship program is now in its 11th year.

Through its scholarship programs, Warner has provided more than $185,000 to support programs that encourage minority students to pursue a law career.

Panel Discusses “The Home Place”

On Wednesday, July 11, a panel from the community discussed this year’s One Book, One Firm selection, “The Home Place: A Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature.” In the Home Place, author Drew Lanham shares his story of growing up on a farm in South Carolina, where he developed an intense love for the natural world.  Lanham, who is African American and a professor of ornithology at Clemson University, discusses his family’s ties to the land and the importance of land and a sense of place has for him.

Three panelists joined us to share their thoughts and reactions to the book:

  • Reuben Roberts, Jr., of the Trilogy Agricultural Group.  Reuben and his eight cousins farm land in Michigan and Mississippi where they raise cash crops and Red Devon cattle.
  • Mark Van Putten, the Chief Executive Officer of the Wege Foundation.  The Wege Foundation brought Dr. Lanham to Grand Rapids in April for the Wege Speakers Series. (You can see Dr. Lanham’s talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yb_O46_ARSE)  The Wege Foundation has made equity and inclusion one of its missions.
  • Aaron Turner, Development Director at WGVU Public Media.  Before joining WGVU, Aaron was a district executive for the Boy Scouts of America, responsible, among other things, for the “Scoutreach” program which brings scouting to youth in the inner-city.

The panel was moderated by Rodney Martin, WN+J’s Diversity Partner.

Here are some photos from the event:

 

Warner Selects The Home Place for One Book, One Firm

Warner Norcross + Judd LLP has selected The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham as the 2018 choice for its One Book, One Firm series.

The One Book, One Firm program explores diversity and inclusion issues during a summer lunch-and-learn program. Diversity Partner Rodney Martin launched the annual event in 2008 to model the success of community reading programs that encourage all residents of a city to read and discuss the same book.

Lanham, a professor of ornithology at Clemson University, is a rarity – a black bird watcher. In “The Home Place,” he shares the story of growing up on a rural South Carolina farm, where he developed an intense connection with the natural world.

“This beautifully written memoir allows us to walk with the author as he examines his family history and the role that land and race have played in his journey,” Martin explained. “Lanham believes that a connection with nature offers a ‘better, wilder way’ for persons of color who have become separated from the land.”

In his book, Lanham writes, “The chances of seeing someone who looks like me while on the trail are only slightly greater than those of sighting an ivory-billed woodpecker.”

He continues, “…each of us are so much more than the pigment that orders us into convenient compartments of occupation, avocation or behavior. The best way of reconnecting humanity’s heart, mind and soul to nature is for us to share our individual stories.”

Lanham is an award-winning professor at Clemson University, where he has taught for more than 20 years. In his work, he evaluates how forest management impacts wildlife and how people think about nature. Specifically, he seeks to make conservation science relevant to others in ways that are evocative and understandable and has delivered his findings to international audiences. “The Home Place” will be the widely published author and award-nominated poet’s first solo book.

Previous selections for One Book, One Firm have included: Choosing Civility, by P.M. Forni, The Arrival, by Shaun Tan, Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange History of Integration of America, by Tanner Colby; Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, by Bich Minh Nguyen; and The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work by Sally Helgesen and Julie Johnson.

This Year’s Winning Authors in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest

The winners and honorable mention recipients in the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., essay contest for sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Last evening, Diversity Partner Rodney Martin had the honor of presenting the winners of the firm’s 13th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., essay contest to the Grand Rapids Board of Education. The Grand Prize Winner, R’Mani Belcher, of Riverside Middle School, the First Runner Up, Alayne Anderson, of the Center for Economicology, and the Second Runner Up, Sha’Myah Dixon, also of Riverside Middle School, each read their winning essays at the meeting. In addition, Mr. Martin presented 23 students with certificates of honorable mention and gift cards to Schuler Books and Music.  The essay contest drew 342 essay submissions by students from 16 different schools in the Grand Rapids Public Schools Systems.  You can read the winner essays here.

 

R’mani Belcher, Riverside Middle School, Grand Prize Winner, Sha’Myah Dixon, Riverside Middle School, Second Runner-up, and Alayne Anderson, Center for Economicology, First Runner-up