Archive for the ‘Recommended Reading’ Category.

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 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

Winners of the 2017-18 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest

To honor the legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., each year Warner Norcross + Judd conducts an essay contest for sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.  Now in its 13th year, the contest drew 342 essay submissions – 28 more than last year – from 16 different schools. Essays were judged by more than 50 Warner Norcross attorneys and staff, using the Michigan Education Assessment Program guidelines for narrative writing. The essays were evaluated for ideas, organization, style and conventions.

This year’s winners are:
• R’mani Belcher, Riverside Middle School, Grand Prize
• Alayne Anderson, Center for Economicology, First Runner-up
• Sha’Myah Dixon, Riverside Middle School, Second Runner-up

Additionally, 23 students from eight different schools received honors mentions. They attend C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy, Center for Economicology, Grand Rapids Montessori, Grand Rapids Public Museum School, Harrison Park School, John Ball Zoo School, Riverside Middle School and Sherwood Park.

All winning and honorable mention students and their parents are invited to attend the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Program held Monday, Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Fountain Street Church. Belcher will read her essay, and all others will be invited to stand for recognition.

Additionally, the grand prize winner and the two runners-up will be given an opportunity to read their essays at the Monday, Feb. 5 GRPS Board of Education meeting, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Warner Norcross Diversity Partner Rodney Martin will be in attendance at both programs to introduce the winners.

Each winning and honorable mention student will receive a gift card to Schuler Books and Music and all others will receive a personalized certificate of participation.

The winning essays appear below:

GRAND PRIZE WINNER

R’mani Belcher

Riverside Middle School

Ms. Holt, teacher

“A Step of Faith”

Faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

            Let me start out by saying that I’m not a very confident or positive kind of person. Almost the opposite! Dr. King, on the other hand, was confident and always saw his glass as half full. His positivity changed our lives for the better. This quote has motivated and inspired me to have a little more faith in myself and others.

To me this quote means that you have to have faith in anything you strongly believe in, even though you might not know what you have ahead of you. We need to keep our faith strong even when we don’t know the consequences of acting on it. There was a time when something like this happened to me.

A couple of years ago, I was walking to my bus stop and I overheard an older kid from our school bullying a girl that I’ve hadn’t seen before. At first I did nothing, and I just stood there. I listened to what the older kid was saying, and I was shocked and paralyzed. She was calling her ugly and stupid and a whole bunch of stuff just to put her down. I walked up closer. There was a crowd of kids cheering her on. The victim girl was in tears. No one stood up for her. There was a lot of cursing involved too. They had her in a corner now. I didn’t know what to do. I was just in a daze, watching, hoping that someone would help this girl. But no one did, not even me.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. Without thinking I shoved my way to the front of the crowd. My heart raced. My mouth opened, but nothing came out. Kids started yelling for me to get out of the way, but I didn’t move. Not like I could anyway; I was frozen with fear and no plan. I glanced at the picked on girl; she stopped crying. It felt like we looked into each other’s souls. The older kid pushed me, all of a sudden I calmly talked to her. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it must have been good because I do remember the look on the bully’s face! The whole crowd was in awe. I felt like such the bigger person! The older kid said something under her breath and left. Shortly the crowd of kids left too.

I looked into the girl’s eyes and she burst into tears. She tightly gave me a hug and I could feel the weights being lifted off her shoulders. I started to cry too. She whispered into my ear two words: “Thank you!”

I never did find out how the whole thing started, but I’ll never forget how it ended. That girl and I are still friends to this day! I never thought that I could do something so good or changing for ANYONE! Just like Dr. King, I’ve won a fight without using violence. And I thank myself for giving myself that step of faith.


 

FIRST RUNNER-UP

Alayne Anderson

Center For Economicology

Mrs. Phillips

            Life is an important thing, and God chose to give us life for a reason. Thus we all need to live life to the fullest. But how, how are we supposed to do this if we are not all truly accepted as equals. Our constitution, the United States constitution stated that all men were created “equal.” But if that is true why are people today still persecuted and ridiculed for believing in their own god?

Please, please tell me why the people of “power” can talk about other races as though they aren’t people of worth. No scratch that, please tell me why anyone can talk about other human beings like they are worthless. It’s not by any means right, people should always be treated equally, no matter their sexual orientation, race, religion, or who they love. It’s so important to accept people. Did you know that 5,000 LGBTQ youth now take their lives each year, and 500,000 attempt suicide? Those are repulsive statistics.

Do you want to know what I think? I think people are afraid of change and diversity. I think we are all just cowards, not just me and not just you, but everyone. I suppose the reason for this is because you have to get rid of your old ideas or opinions and embrace new and unknown ones. Humans are stubborn, we stick to what we’re comfortable with.

            Look at yourself, right now. Embrace yourself. Now tell me, what color are you? Some of you may be black and some of you may be so white you sometimes feel transparent. Do you know what color I am? My color is human, that is the only color I could ever want to be. Labels are for clothes, not people. So what if you’re gay, so what if you’re straight, or black, or for god’s sake green. You are no less human than the person sitting next to you today. So I implore you to make a change in how you feel. I, a mere child cannot make you change. But if I did, then I know that I have made you a better person, and you have fulfilled god’s request to love all.


SECOND RUNNER-UP

Sha’Myah Dixon

Riverside Middle School

Miss Holt

“No More Silence”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

            There are different kinds of silence. Sometimes we should speak up and get what’s bothering us out. Other times we should speak up to keep people from doing bad things. What would happen to our world and lives if all of a sudden no one cared about anybody and let bad things happen without saying anything? I believe everyone’s lives would be miserable if they kept either silence. There would be no happiness; there would be nothing but sadness in the world.

            When I watch the news, I see a lot of terrible things that maybe could have been prevented if someone had spoken up. In Kalamazoo and other cities on the news, there’s been a lot of shooting. Most of that is because people don’t want to talk; they want to keep silent about what’s bothering them. They also keep silent even if they know some information that could stop someone from snapping and hurting other people. That’s why the government always says, “If you see something, say something.”

            Eleven years ago, in 2006, my father’s life became miserable because of his silence. That day my father went to jail. If he had spoken up and told the police who caused this whole thing, he wouldn’t be where he is now. Instead he got lied on and took the blame for everything.

That day I found out that I wouldn’t have a father to read bedtime stories to me, or be there to drive me to the bus corner when I was scared. I always wanted to go to a father/daughter dance with him, but I couldn’t because he wasn’t there. All those years ago I remained silent; I never told anyone how I felt.

            As Americans we need to learn about all the different kinds of silence. We need to find out if people need our help to work things out in their lives. If we don’t, we can’t stop the evilness from coming into this world. In other conditions, we need to speak up in order to right wrongs. Either way, there should be no more silence.

Warner Norcross & Judd Releases its 11th Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report

DAR2016-pg-1-graphic-thumbnail_1For the past 11 years, Warner Norcross & Judd has reported annually about its efforts to become a more diverse and inclusive organization.  The 2016 Report has just been issued and is available on the firm’s website, along with past reports, by clicking here.  The Report includes a letter from the firm’s Managing Partner, Doug Dozeman, and profiles that highlight Warner Norcross female attorneys who are leaders across the state and other individuals who have unique stories of why they joined the firm.  In addition, the Report includes articles about the firm’s Martin Luther King, Jr. , Essay Contest for students in the Grand Rapids Public Schools, the firm’s 2016 One Book, One Firm program that discussed the immigrant experience, and the firm’s unique collaboration with the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre to bring to the stage productions that focus on issues related to diversity and inclusion.

MLK Essay Contest Winners Recognized by the Grand Rapids Board of Education

Last evening, the Grand Rapids Board of Education recognized the winners and honorable mention recipients in this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest.  Rodney Martin, the firm’s Diversity Partner, introduced the winners, who each had an opportunity to read their essay during the public meeting.  Mr. Martin then introduced each of the 24 honorable mention recipients, who came forward to receive their awards.  You can read the winning essays here.

This was the 12th year that Warner Norcross & Judd has conducted the essay contest for sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.  Over 300 students from 12 different middle schools submitted essays that responded to one of three prompts concerning the legacy of  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The essays were read and judged by over 50 attorneys and staff members at Warner.  Here are photos of the winners, and the honorable mention recipients.

The Winners of the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest (left to right): Tess Cepaitis, Grand Prize, Riverside Middle School; Myaja Dunning, 1st Runner Up, Gerald R. Ford Academic Center; and Carmen Perdomo, 2nd Runner Up, Southwest Community Campus

The Winners of the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest (left to right): Tess Cepaitis, Grand Prize, Riverside Middle School; Myaja Dunning, 1st Runner Up, Gerald R. Ford Academic Center; and Carmen Perdomo, 2nd Runner Up, Southwest Community Campus

The winners and honorable mention recipients in the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest.

The winners and honorable mention recipients in the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest.