WARREN, Mich. (Feb. 21, 2019) – For the fifth straight year, the Student Diversity Leaders at De La Salle Collegiate sponsored an essay contest to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This year, students from neighboring schools in Warren and Detroit were also asked to participate. De La Salle students – along with students from Regina, Cousino, Woods-Tower, Detroit Collegiate Preparatory and Jalen Rose Leadership Academy – were invited to submit essays last month.
The theme for this year’s contest was How can Dr. King’s dream be advanced among your peers? Students were asked to write a 500-word essay, which was judged on the basis of clearly expressed, creative ideas. Emphasis was placed on clarity, creativity, and originality.
The top three essays were written by senior Ian Earle, junior Dylan Wilson and Regina freshman Amaiya Holt. The winning students were awarded $100 cash prizes.
Here are the winning submissions (in alphabetic order by students’ last names):
Dr. King’s Dream Lives On
By De La Salle senior Ian Earle
Dr. King’s dream that one day America will rise up, and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” is sadly still being fought for today. It is up to us, the youth of our nation to advance Dr. King’s dream, that no man shall be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. We have come very far since Dr. King’s time with civil rights. However, we as a people still have a long ways to go. Amongst my peers we must attempt to advance Dr. King’s dream to become a more progressive, accepting society. A way we may advance Dr. King’s dream is to act selflessly. As Dr. King once said, “it is our responsibility to make the personal choice of whether or not to be the person who takes actions not just for themselves, but also for other people.” We must speak up when we see oppression in our society, people will recognize injustice when others speak up for that person or persons, especially when the person speaking up is not affected by the injustice, but knows that they must take action for others. One very important way for all to be treated the same way is to attempt to break stereotypes. Stereotyping is a form a prejudice, a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. Stereotypes and prejudices are one of the biggest inhibitors for people to be more accepting of others that is why we must break stereotypes so that our society will be able to look past preconceived opinions on people and be more accepting. A reason many people have prejudices is because it is all they have known. Their family taught them this incorrect information and stereotypes about others. This is why we must now educate our society about what African Americans in our country go through.
If they are taught the truth, not all, but many people will realize the error in their past thinking and see things in a new light. As stated before, many children learn prejudices and stereotypes from their parents and the people around them, nobody is born racist. Educating people now and making change will in effect cause future generations to be more understanding and accepting of all races and cultures. Dr. King’s dream is still being fought for, and it is up to our generation to take Dr. King’s dream and advance it in hopes for a better future. There will be no quick fix for our societal problems, but we must work to fix them in hope that one day our children of all races will be able to join hands as brothers and sisters.
How Can Dr. King’s Dream be Advanced Among Your Peers
By Regina freshman Amaiya Holt
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man of great integrity. He believed in a society where people of any color can work, live, and play together. I personally believe it is important to advance Dr. King’s ideals of freedom, equality, and unity in my daily life. Without civil rights for all people, we can never truly be a nation of freedom. I do my best to live out these ideals every day. Dr. King truly wanted the best for America and wanted all people no matter race, color, or religion, to be united. There are many excellent ways we can advance Dr. King’s civil rights dream. One way is to educate our youth on the history of civil rights in our country. Leading by example and showing how we can live out his dream, is another way to help advance Dr. King’s goal. Lastly, we can help to achieve his goal by standing up for injustice and being a voice of change.
One important part of advancing Dr. King’s goals is educating people about the history of civil rights in America. I believe that educating people, especially youth, on the mistakes and the accomplishments of the past, will help them to better understand his dream for America. It will motivate them and inspire them to want to make a difference. Young people are the future of our nation and if we can help inform and educate them, they may realize that regardless of color, they share his dream for what America can be. We must teach the youth about the mistakes of our forefathers, so we are not doomed to continuously repeat them. Although we learn about civil rights in schools, it is important that parents continue the conversation at home, and that we, as young people, continue to talk about it also.
Leading by example is another way that we can continue to advance Dr. King’s dream. As a young minority surrounded by teachers, students, coaches, administrators, and really good friends that do not look like me or share the same background, I provide a unique perspective on life which I regularly share. By no means do I claim to speak for all minorities but, I can speak for myself, my family, and others who share my perspective. My openness and willingness to share my ideas and feelings give others a glimpse into what it feels like to be me. This glimpse provides understanding which, more often than not, results in compassion and kindness. I lead by example when I do well on my sports team, lead a discussion in class, excel academically, and make true, dependable, caring, friends that are different than me. We all become a living example of how we can all benefit from allowing people from all backgrounds, colors, and religions to live together in harmony.
It is easy to learn about civil rights, and what Dr. King believed in. It is much more difficult to stand up against injustice when you personally witness it. We can talk about Dr. King’s dream all we want, but without taking action, nothing will change. Words are important, but actions can speak volumes. It is important to back up our words with actions. Dr. King spoke up and took action for what was right, even when it wasn’t the popular thing to do. His actions backed up his words, and we need to do the same. When we see injustice, we have to stand up and say something. It only takes one person to initiate change. We should all strive to be that one person.
Although many of Dr. King’s dreams have been realized, we, as a nation, still have a long way to go. We still have a lot to learn from Dr. King. As long as we continue to encourage people to talk about Dr. King’s dream for civil rights, then we will continue to progress. Dr. King’s dream is achievable, we just have to put forth the effort to achieve it.
Keeping the Dream Alive
By De La Salle junior Dylan Wilson
Peace, love, and equality. This is the dream and message Dr. King gave to us during his time on earth. It has been 51 years since the death of Martin Luther King Jr. but his lessons still live with us today.
A daring man, willing to break the racial injustice barrier, changed our lives as we know them today. Mixing race in the 1960s sounded absurd, though a man who wasn’t afraid of criticism, decided to break that status-quo. We can follow in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps by continuing to advocate for racial equality as well as not being afraid to stand up for what we believe in.
As a young black man who came from a rough town, I know how it feels to be deprived of positive influences. One person I know I can always look to is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who was in a similar situation as me: living in a predominantly white neighborhood. It’s hard having white friends whose parents don’t accept me as their friend. I get treated differently sometimes but I follow Dr. King’s mindset by using love over hate. Whenever I happen to consider choosing revenge over peace, I look to his wise words, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Being treated differently is one of the worst feelings in the world. I have experienced this my whole life, being a black man coming from the inner-city to the suburbs at the age of 12. Some look down upon me because I don’t come from the same background as them. I used to be sad for being different and felt lonely because of it, but learning about Dr. King changed that for me. I learned that my uniqueness should be embraced. “You will change your mind; You will change your looks; You will change your smile, laugh, and ways but no matter what you change, you will always be you,” said Dr. King. This quote has stuck with me throughout my lifetime and I utilize this philosophy with my everyday interactions.
Overall, Dr. King is the reason I’m able to have friends of other races today. Many of my best childhood memories came from being friends with other people who are not black. Love should always be blind to color and clear to what’s within you. Our world would be lost without Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life lessons. And as a young black man who came from a similar situation as Dr. King, I would be lost as an individual not being able to accept who I am. Thanks to Dr. King, I’m proud of who I am and will encourage others to be proud of who they are too. Thanks to Dr. King, society’s value in racial equality has advanced. Hopefully these lessons can be continually used with us for an eternity.