Winners of the 2010-11 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest Announced

The winners have been selected in the Sixth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest sponsored by Warner Norcross & Judd.

The contest is open to all sixth-grade students within Grand Rapids Public Schools, and challenges them to write an essay on one of three topics designed to encourage students to think about Dr. King’s legacy.  This year, 140 students submitted an entry.

In addition to the winning essay and two runner’s up, the firm will be recognizing 17 students who 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 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18.  All winners will be invited to read their essays at the Grand Rapids Public School board meeting in February.

Here are the winning essays.


GRAND PRIZE WINNER: VIOLET ROSE BUTTS

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

Mrs. Reed’s and Mr. Boosamra’s class/The 6th Grade Center for Economicology

“MAKING CONNECTIONS”

Martin Luther King’s courageous approach of using love and non-violence can be used to overcome struggles and bring brotherly love to the world. Martin recognized the healing power of forgiveness. We need to employ his way of life in dealing with the many diverse feelings of others so we can have empathy and forgiveness. He clearly recognized the person using non-violence has a “powerful weapon” that “cuts without wounding” and that this person’s actions are noble. He created a good example of how to take a stand without it resulting in rage and anger. Martin Luther King’s words tell us to use determined non-violence and love in a way to move away from racial injustice, poverty and war in our world even today.

Dr. King’s daring message of freedom from his Nobel Peace Prize Lecture are guidelines of how we should grow up in love and peace. As children, we have to live in a home together with our family. He suggests that we need to realize that ultimately our world is just like that, “a great world house.” We all need to coexist, no matter our backgrounds or cultures. This should be reflected into everything we do, because he showed us that big and little problems can be solved with peace and kindness instead of violence. How amazing is it that Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize at a young age of 35. So at that, young people must start thinking in these terms now just as Martin must have when he was a child.

In conclusion, Dr. King is a great example for people today because he used positive words to tell people that there was a problem in America, and his words can be greatly applied into people’s own words today. I believe it is imperative to apply this blueprint in every kid’s life for the greater future.


1st RUNNER UP: GRACE CAMERON

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

Mr. Fordney’s Class/ The Zoo School

I think Reverend Doctor King’s dream has come true, because I have some colorful friends; some light and some dark. My class has blacks, Hispanics, and whites. All skin colors are mixed together. During Dr. King’s lifetime schools were segregated. People of different races were not allowed to go to school together. I like having people of all different colors in my class.

I am white and my best friend is African-American and she lives down the street. We are friends because we have so many things in common, not because of our skin color. We both love to read, draw, paint, and roller skate. My life would not be half as fun if I was not allowed to be her friend because of her skin color.

Here is another reason I think Dr. King’s dream has come true. My neighborhood, according to the 2000 US census is made up of 60% Hispanic people, 30% black people and 10% white people. Our neighborhood does many things together; such as a block party, vacation bible school, a tutoring program, weekly summer dinners, and spending time at our community center. This makes my neighborhood a stronger community because of our differences inside and out. The reason my neighborhood exits today is because of the hard work that Dr. King and others did for civil rights.

Dr. King’s wife Coretta Scott King helped with the fight for civil rights. Mrs. King kept fighting for civil rights even after Dr. King was assassinated. She became active in the women’s movement. Dr. King wrote that he was indebted to his wife because without her love and support he would not have gotten as far as he did. I see this in my parents all the time with the work that they do in my neighborhood. They volunteer at the community center and other neighborhood activities.

So in conclusion, Dr. King’s dream has come true, and I am thankful for Dr. King and his dream, because without him, my school, friends and neighborhood wouldn’t be colorful. I wouldn’t live in this neighborhood or know such good friends. So thank you Reverend Dr. King for your dream.


2nd RUNNER UP: ALENA DICKERSON

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

Ms. Holt’ class/Riverside Middle School

“WHAT IF”

“There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the colored citizen is granted his citizenship rights.” These are a few words of Dr. King’s memorable “I Have a Dream” speech. What powerful words he spoke! How were the people in 1963 supposed to know that in 2010 we still don’t have equality for all people? So can you imagine if he had given up what this world would be like today?

If Dr. King had given up when his home was bombed, when he was assaulted, and when he was thrown in jail for saying what he believed, Ruby Bridges would have never been able to go to an all white school. My school, Riverside Middle, would not be a school for all races, but just for one race. And the rest of the world would be pockets of whites, African-Americans and Mexicans so we wouldn’t have the schools we have today.

If Dr. King had given up, the world wouldn’t know who an artist like Michael Jackson was. People wouldn’t know who Michael Jordan is, and we wouldn’t even know their names as well as many other people who we kids look up to. We wouldn’t even know these role models existed!

Someone like Loretta Claiborne probably wouldn’t have been able to be in the Special Olympics. Many other specially challenged people wouldn’t have the freedom to express themselves like they do today. In my opinion, today’s sports wouldn’t be as fun to watch as they are today without the influence of Dr. King.

So what if he had given up? What would this world be like today? In my opinion, I wouldn’t want to live in a world where people are judged on their race rather than on their characters and their intelligences. Yes, we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Dr. King would want us to carry on his dreams and his believes. So what if…