Archive for January 2009

• WNJ Lawyers to Appear on Film Series Panel

Two Warner Norcross & Judd attorneys will appear on a panel following the Chiaroscuro International Film Series‘s showing of In This World on Sunday, February 8, at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids. 

Kathy HanenburgKathy Hanenburg and Homayune GhaussiHomayune Ghaussi will discuss issues raised by the film, which tells the story of two Afghan boys who make a perilous journey from a refugee camp in Pakistan, through Iran, Turkey, Italy and France, to seek refuge in the United Kingdom.  Hanenburg chairs the firm’s Immigration Practice Group.  Ghaussi is an associate in the firm’s Southfield office.  He was born in Afghanistan.  His family left after the Russian invasion and eventually settled in metropolitan Detroit.

The movie begins at 2:30 p.m.  The Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts is located at 41 Sheldon Boulevard SE Grand Rapids, MI 49503.  (MAP)

You can see the trailer for the movie by clicking here

• Winners of the 2008-2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest

Martin Luther King, Jr.At a cerermony today held by the Kent Intermediate School District and GRCC to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Warner Norcross & Judd will announce the winners of its 4th annual essay contest for sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools. This year 325 students submitted essays, an increase of 90 from last year. 

The entries were judged by 75 staff and attorneys in our offices around the state. The winners were selected by three members of the firm along with two members from the community – Maxine Gray, a board member of BL²END, and Melinda Ysasi, the President of the board of the West Michigan Hispanic Center.  We appreciate the efforts of all of our readers.

We are pleased to announce the following winners of this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest.  This year, we had a Grand Prize winner, a First Runner Up and two students who tied for Second Runner Up.  Here are their essays.

Grand Prize Winner  ($300 Savings Bond and $50 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)

Alexus in Mrs. Holt’s Sixth Grade Class, Riverside Middle School

Question 1:   In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous 1963 speech “I Have a Dream,” Dr. King emphasized peace, respect and equality for every human being.  His dream was that one day we would live in a nation where children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.  Has Dr. King’s dream come true?  Use examples from your life experiences to support your answer.


            “I have a dream.” The powerful words helped our nation rise up and change people. That’s why we have the slogan “We are one.” Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted black and white people to get along and be one nation. He also wanted blacks to be treated the same as whites. That dream has somewhat come true this past November when we elected the first black President of the Untied States.

            For the first time a whole lot of white people must have voted for Barack Obama. About only 12.8% of our population is African American while white Americans make up many times more than that of the population. WHAT A CHANGE! So, therefore, that means that more Caucasians voted for the first black American President.

            There are some ways in which his dream has not yet come true. For example, Don Imus, a radio speaker, called the Rutgers Woman’s Basketball Team some racial slurs. Dr. King would never have stood for this. But the problem isn’t just whites against blacks; it can be the other way around also. Reverend Jeremiah Wright said racial things about whites too. This is not what Dr. King meant when he said that he hoped one day we would all be able to “sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

            There is another dream that still has to come true. Dr. King also had the dream of a non-violent America; we still need to work on it. Dr. King never applied himself to the belief that blacks needed to be treated BETTER than anyone else, just equal. We should always remember his words that “Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”

First Runner-Up  ($200 Savings Bond and $25 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)

Malika in Mrs. May’s Sixth Grade Class, Grand Rapids Montessori

Question 2: “I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.”  ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  What do you think Dr. King meant by this?  Thinking about his quote, why do you think hate and discrimination still exist today?  In what ways is love an easier burden to bear?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Quote

            Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is perhaps the most profound person in history. All though there are many others, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in love over violence. His way of thinking inspired an abundant amount of people. I’m sure you know who Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is, but if you don’t, he is noted for his eloquence in his ever so many quotes and speeches that spoke of kindness, peace and equality.

            When Dr. King said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear,” I think he meant that loving is easier than hating. If you hate someone you feel anger towards that person. If you love someone you feel happiness towards them. Which one do you think is easier for you, anger or happiness? Love or hate? The weight of hate is too heavy, but the lightness of love is beautiful

            Dr. Martin Luther King probably said that he had to stick with love and that hate is too great a burden to bear because that is what he believed. And believing in something great that can help people is far greater than believing in something that’s wrong and can hurt so many. We all should consider others feelings and we should try to treat others how we would want to be treated. If everyone believed in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ways, and truly followed them, maybe discrimination would end, and equality and peace would prevail.

            Agreeing with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is so easy for many to do, but to actually erase violence and practice love is something our nation should try hard to accomplish. If we all just tried a little harder we could really succeed. Even though there is still discrimination every person can make a difference. We know that at least one person has made a big difference. Imagine what you can do. If I, or anyone became even half of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was, that would be it’s own reward. And if our nation succeeded as a whole in sticking with love, that would be an even greater reward!

Second Runner-Up  ($100 Savings Bond and $25 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)

Deion in Ms. Gregory’s Sixth Grade Class, Harrison Middle School

Question 1:   Has Dr. King’s dream come true?  Use examples from your life experiences to support your answer.

            In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous 1963 speech “I have a dream,” Dr. King emphasized respect, peace and equality for every human being. His dream was that one day we would live in a nation where children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character

            I think Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous 1963 speech “I have a dream” has changed the United States for ever. If it was not for the Negros and Whites that gave up most of there free time to help protest to get people to change their mind about racism. I would not be in here with half these kids right now. Let alone I would probably not be here in this classroom right now. I am so honored to know that all the people that stood be hind Martin Luther King tried to help change the world. Because if we would of kept letting this racism go on we would not have the great African American president Barack Obama in office right now. Actually we would not have any blacks [African Americans] in office right now.

            I do believe that Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech has come true for me. But other times I think it has not came true at all. I think to myself sometimes what if Martin Luther King Jr. was never born. Would I still be here today? Would I have the great, caring, and loving side of my family that is African American? Dr. King has changed my life but it seems that it is not the same answer for others. When I go to school I see kids getting picked on just because of the color of their skin. Or after school I see 8th grade Mexicans getting beat on by other blacks kids. Just because that kid walked on there side of the street or at school the kid might have looked at them the wrong way. Maybe it is just because the other kid is white or Mexican and a black kid might think that the color of their skin is too dark or too light. When I see that kind of stuff I ask myself why haven’t they learned to love because to hate such more of a burden to bear.

            In other ways his dream has came true to me. Because my mother is white, but my father is black. When both of are families have get together it is great to see two different racist come together and just have a good time. Because when I see them eating together and playing games with each other or just even talking to each other tells me inside that his dream has came true [alive] . When I see that it tells me his dream has came true to not only me but everyone else. If all this racism was still going on I would not be here. Not only that I would not have this loving caring father that is so loving and caring that loves me so much.

            That is why I believe Martin Luther King; Jr.’s famous 1963 speech ‘I Have A Dream’ has come true to me, my family and many more Americans throughout the United States. I believe his 1963 speech ‘I Have A Dream’ has become reality. Thank you Dr. King thank you for helping change the United States forever.

Second Runner-Up  ($100 Savings Bond and $25 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)

Devontae in Mrs. Stein’s Sixth Grade Class, Westwood Middle School

Question 1:   Has Dr. King’s dream come true?  Use examples from your life experiences to support your answer.

I feel that Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr. “I have a dream” speech has in part come true because for the first time in history we will have an African American president. Presidential elect Barack Obama has proven to everyone not just African Americans that with hard work, determination, and by the grace of “God” anything is possible. Though it has taken what will be 47 years for what I feel will be a monumental moment when Barack Obama is inaugurated on January 19th, 2009. This is what so many of our people have longed to see a world where we can be judged solely on our merit, what we as individuals can accomplish, an what I hope will be the beginning for us to a road of respect for one another. We have come along ways from being abused, enslaved, bought, an sold an let we survive. All people want a chance to be heard, treated equally, respected, an able to live in a world where you can dream the inevitable no matter your color an not have to be judged on the color of your skin or be put in this category because you just happen to be black. We as a people of all creeds an colors will stop the act of racism learn to uplift an help one another then one day we will truly be able to say Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A dream” Speech has definitely come true.

• Martin Luther King Day Events at GRCC Feature Juan Williams

Warner Norcross & Judd will once again be participating in programs at Grand Rapids Community College to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Martin Luther King Day, January 19, 2009.

From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., GRCC and the Kent Intermediate School District holds a Community Peace Program at the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.  At this Program, the winner of Warner Norcross & Judd’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest will read his or her essay and the other winners will be recognized.  This program is principally for students in the Kent Intermediate School District, but members of the community are welcome to attend.  Students from GRCC and the KISD will be performing.  The program is preceded at noon by a Community Peace March that forms at the Fieldhouse.

Juan WilliamsFrom 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., GRCC and Grand Valley University will host the annual Community Celebration Program at the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.  The celebration will feature a keynote address by Juan Williams, senior correspondent at NPR, a political analyst for FOX News, and the author of Enough-The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America- and What We Can Do About It.

The winners of Warner Norcross & Judd’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest will again be recognized during the Community Celebration Program.  

• Warner Norcross Sponsors “A Raisin in the Sun”

A Raisin in the SunWarner Norcross & Judd LLP and Fifth Third Bank are pleased to co-sponsor the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre‘s upcoming production of A Raisin in the Sun. The play opens on January 23 and runs through February 8.

About the Play

This groundbreaking play premiered 50 years ago and remains a compelling drama to this day.

Playwright Lorraine Hansberry, took the title of the play from a Langston Hughes poem, which asks: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?

The play centers on the Youngers, a family on the south side of Chicago in the 1950s. When an insurance check arrives following the death of the grandfather, the family members see a chance to achieve their dreams.

As Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote in a review 25 years ago, Hansberry “forced both blacks and whites to re-examine the deferred dreams of black America. She asked blacks to reconsider how those dreams might be defined; she demanded that whites not impede the fulfillment of those dreams one more second. And she posed all her concerns in a work that portrayed a black family with a greater realism and complexity than had ever been previously seen on an American stage.” The New York Drama Critics’ Circle awarded Hansberry the Best American Play of the Year award in 1959, the first time the award was presented to an African American author.