Archive for January 2010

Grand Rapids Public Museum Ethnic Heritage Festival

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Free admission, Irish, Pacific Island and Indian dance groups, multicultural drum group WaZoBia, food and beer from around the world — these are just a few reasons why the annual Ethnic Heritage Festival at the Grand Rapids Public Museum is so popular.  The festival is back for 2010, on February 6.  The Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WNJ Announces Winners in the 2009-10 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has announced the results of its Fifth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest.

The contest, which was open to all sixth-grade students within Grand Rapids Public Schools, challenged the students to write an essay on one of four topics designed to encourage students to think about how Dr. King’s legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live. More than 110 students entered this year’s competition.

The winning essays appear below. In addition to these essays, 17 students received an Honorable Mention award.

The winning essayist will read her essay at the Grand Rapids Community College Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration events at 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18. All winners will be invited to read their essays at the Grand Rapids Public School board meeting on Monday, Feb. 1.

Here are the winning essays.

Grand Prize Winner: Cache Allen

Ms. Holt’s class at Riverside Middle School

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


Dr. King once said, “Life’s most urgent question is – what are you doing for others?” That question was asked because people didn’t and still don’t seem to care about others even though we share the same world. He wanted us to help each other so that each person from our community learns to have a powerful self-image inside. People who feel good about themselves are often positive role models, and end up passing the help forward.

One of those role models I learned from is Loretta Claiborne. As a child Loretta could not walk or talk. She was mentally challenged but still accomplished her dream of being a track runner. More importantly, she helped people by giving her time to the elderly, and being a role model for kids and grown-ups, too. It was difficult to grow up to be who she is now, but Dr. King would be pleased with what she was able to accomplish.

My dream to care for people is to become a doctor and to cure the sick. My role model is Dr. Ben Carson. He is an intelligent man who specializes in separating conjoined twins. These children are now happier apart. Along with being a doctor, I would like to use my large income to help the homeless. I would give them food to eat, clothes to wear, and give them extra money, so that at least can afford things to make them comfortable.

I believe that I can honor Dr. King’s memory by doing these good things as well as doing my best in school. I also believe that Dr. King’s life would have had more meaning if we all would get good educations and work together to help the world. It would honor Dr. King if we used our gifts and started to make things better in our own communities. After that our neighbors would help spread that help to more cities, then countries, and eventually it would spread over the entire world!

First Runner-Up: Miles C. Jones

Ms. Welsh’s class at C.A. Frost Middle School

($200 Savings Bond and $25 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)


Dr. King decided to stick with love. He felt hate was too heavy to bear. An example of what Dr. King meant when he described hate as a heavy burden is the example of having to carry around a 70 lb. bag of potatoes everywhere you went. It would be too heavy to carry. But love isn’t like that.

Love can be heavy on your heart sometimes but it also has the ability to take away some burdens. Love helps you to become someone who doesn’t hate. This is what I’m trying to be: someone who shows and shares love and not someone who has feelings of hatred. I am the type of person who likes to know what’s coming next. I like to prepare for the future. I don’t worry about a lot of things. I look at Dr. King’s life and I wonder how he was able to deal with all of the hatred that was coming at him. What I’ve learned is that he deflected hatred with love. Dr. King had lots of things to worry about. He really couldn’t afford to take all that extra weight that comes with hatred. So he just kept it simple and just focused on love.

I think hate and discrimination still happens in our city, state, country and the world. I believe it’s because people can’t let go of the past and they hold on to grudges. Love makes you free and it helps you to let go of the things of the past that hold you back. Hate and discrimination are diseases and they can make you sick. So, I believe that when someone is sick or has a disease they need to see a doctor. I believe a doctor would give them a prescription for love because love has the power to heal.

Hate and discrimination will go away when men and women, boys and girls stop judging each other and thinking bad things about one another. Dr. King said we should be “judged by the content of our character and not by the color of our skin.” It’s up to us to make a change. Kids my age can make a difference. If I have to choose between carrying hate and carrying love, I’ll carry love any day.

Second Runner-Up: Vera Spence

Ms. Gregory’s Class at Harrison Middle School

($100 Savings Bond and $25 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)


“I have a dream,” said Martin standing at the podium, sweat dripping down his forehead, the hot sun blazing on him. Everyone screaming at the top of their lungs, “YEAH!” And he gave that speech not only from a piece of paper, but from his heart. And he said,’ I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by their skin, but by the content of their character.” And I knew he meant not by their skin, but by their personality and who they are – the person that they are inside.

The content of my character is outgoing, worthy, creative, talented, trustful, filled with laughter and sorrow. I am who I am. People don’t judge me by my skin. If they did, I’d probably be a lonely girl. I’d go insane. I’d go ballistic. I’d fight for my rights, too. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I’d fight with peace, and not with fists. And I’d give up my life for what I believe. If they judged me by my skin, they’d miss a loving, self-confident, heart-warming girl. They’d miss my trust. They’d miss my laugh. They’d miss who I am – and what I am.

Dr. King’s dreams mostly came true because different skins join together hand-in-hand. I see little black and white girls playing jump rope and taking care of dolls. I see black and white men and women making families and loving each other – holding hands and talking. I see Asians and Mexicans walking together, talking and laughing. I see Native Americans and German hugging and crying s if they were saying goodbye forever. I see Polish and Africans dancing and playing tag.

I see the world out of my eyes and today, it’s happy. Races join together in harmony is what I see. Like me. I am a Native American girl that has Jamaican cousins and was born in Florida. I go to Harrison Park Middle and I have lots of friends who are different races. Like Kristin – she’s mixed with White, Black, Polish, German and Mexican. Or Dulce, my best friend, who is Mexican. Or Kayla – she’s white. Or Cuinasia – she’s black. Or Angelina – an Asian. And many others. I get to be friends with all races at Harrison.

I have a dream that we will all be the same.” It’s all happening, little by little, decade by decade, year by year, month by month, week by week, day by day, hour by hour and minute by minute. We’re changing all the time. So tomorrow, wake up and say, “ Thank you, Dr. King.” Because he’s the reason why you’re not judged by your skin, but by your character. I’m saved.

“I’m color blind. I do not judge people by the color of their skin, but by their hearts.”

Second Runner-Up: José Longoria

Ms. Depker’s Class at Southwest Community Campus

($100 Savings Bond and $25 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968). He was the youngest man ever to earn the Nobel Peace Prize at age of 35. Dr. King’s most famous speech of all was his speech in 1963 entitled, “ I Have a Dream.”

When Dr. King was referring to the phrase “content of their character,” I believe he was referring to the identity or what makes a person special or unique. Most people would say that the content of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s character was special because he respected all men, women and children. He strongly opposed violence and believed all men and all races are created equally under the eyes of God.

I believe when people view me, I hope they see the goodness in me. I hope that they see that I am a caring and respectful person. I believe in peace in the world and for my fellow men. I hope when someone looks at the content of my character they will see that I will do anything for someone if I am able. If people would judge me just by the color of my skin, I think they are looking past the beliefs of Dr. King and not recognizing the goodness in me.

Dr. King’s dream came true for the simple fact that we have witnessed the election of our first black president, Barack Obama – and not just because he’s black, but because of how he became president. Barack Obama did not just have black voters. He had voters of many races, men and women. I believe that this one part of history shows unity in our country and gives hope that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s hard work and perseverance was not in vain.