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Pictured are the 2017 Essay Contest Winners with the Honorable Judge Vance Raye and Honorable Judge George Nicholson.

Congratulations to the 2017 MLK Essay Contest Winners.

We are very pleased to announce the winners of the third annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest in conjunction with the MLK Celebration Dinner. The essay contest was created to further engage our youth with Dr. King’s legacy, his vision, and leadership that inspired a nation.  The 2017 MLK Essay Contest Theme: America is facing a social crisis. If Dr. Martin Luther King were alive today, in your own words, what do you think he would do?

High School

Mai-Thanh Nguyen, Vista Del Lago High School – 1st Place
Anna Elizabeth Chriss, Rio Americano High School – 2nd Place
Warsan Ali, Mira Loma High School – 3rd Place

Middle School
Daejanique E Prescott, Encina Preparatory High – 1st Place
Abriana Stewart, Charter University Prep – 2nd Place
Ava Adams, Charter University Prep – 3rd Place

High School Division
Mai-Thanh Nguyen
, 1st Place High School Division

The Power of Love
Martin Luther King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do
that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It is foolish to deny the corruption and racial bias within our justice system. No person, no human should ever be fearful of simply walking on the street. No mother should ever have to tell her son how to act outside of the home. No one should ever feel the hypocrisy of a system where the very people who are meant to safeguard us, could also be the person who hurts us.
Police brutality has divided our nation. It seems the post racial America we have all hoped for is far beyond us, we have work to do. Systematic oppression, something we presumed was nonexistent, has fostered anger in communities. We all have the right to feel anger. However, this indignation does not justify vendetta and violence.

MLK would not replace this hate with more. He would not riot on the streets and create pandemonium. We must not return this hate with more hate. Otherwise, we trap ourselves in an irreversible and perpetual cycle of hatred. Rather we must return this hatred with love as MLK would do. Even when the police attacked peaceful protesters on Bloody Sunday, Dr. King encouraged nonviolent protests. Violence will not change anything, but only further delegitimize our cause.

In a time where identity politics seems to be at its strongest, we must refuse to conform to stereotypes; a Muslim is not a terrorist, a black man is not a criminal, a Mexican is not illegal, and a women is not inferior. Dr. King would say we need love. Love will allow us to embrace our differences whether it be gender, religion, or race. We must also not forget that our voices are formidable weapons that can ignite social change. As Bernie Sanders stated, MLK believed real change will never happen from the top down but from the bottom up. Our single voices matter. Through this, we become more united. The problems we all thought had perished have reappeared. Dr King made a monumental contribution to fix this systematic issue. However, he did not fully eliminate it. Rather, he laid down the blueprint for us to solve this predicament together. Now it’s our turn.

Anna Elizabeth Chriss, 2nd Place, High School Division

A New Perspective

Sometimes it just takes one person to stand up and be the change within a society of people. In America during the 1960s we had one of these courageous leaders, Martin Luther King Jr. If King were still alive today I believe his message would share some of the same underlying foundations that it did when he blessed our Earth. His original message was of course equality for all yet, he taught people an important lesson that some call humanity.

If Martin Luther King Jr. were here to witness the social crisis America is currently facing, he would give us all his basic message of human kindness. His message for the world of today might not come from a place rooted in just racial awareness and equality but from a more current representation of his original message: equality for the women, the children, the colored, the people of different religions and the LBGTQ of our communities. A call to action would radiate through our television screens and seep into our lives. This would allow for more discussion of current issues in our American families, schools, and churches.

Our society would begin to focus more on the kindness that we can bring to each other and less on the jokes we use to tear one another down. How we treat people would become a more real priority and the respect we have for those around us much more apparent. His words would allow for other quiet leaders in our lives to speak up; those who long for their voices to be heard and understood would now be listened to. Most of all, King would want us to spread our love to the strangers we meet on the street. We need to ask ourselves what we can do to keep moving forward.

Warsan Ali, 3rd Place High School Division

An Evolving Nation

When Dr. Martin Luther King said, “there is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution”, he had no idea what would become of society today. America has overcome many civil inequalities, yet despite the progress made, it always seems that freedom has not yet been achieved. Like disease, oppression can evolve over time.

The post-racial society Dr. King dreamed of is attainable, but to say that we have already reached that goal would be ignorant to the events occurring in society today. Over fifty years later, protesters are marching, rioting, and performing acts of civil disobedience in the name of justice. Like oppression, messages can evolve over time. Instead of “[sleeping] through a revolution”, modern activists are calling for people to “stay woke” and be aware of injustice in our communities.

If Dr. King were alive today, he would not condemn the voices of this generation. While their fight for freedom may be different from the way he did it, their intentions are the same. This fight will continue until African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and all other Americans do not continue feel like outsiders in their own home. He would tell us to never settle for the way things are, because it was always the marchers, picketers, and those who took action that made history. Change is always made possible by those who fight for liberty as an inalienable right for all.

The methods by which we achieve freedom have evolved over time, but Dr. King’s dream has not. We have come far and look forward to a future with peace and harmony. Above all, he would remind us that hope is the most powerful force against hatred. Our voices are the strongest weapons we have to fight injustice. In the face of adversity, we must always rise.

Middle School
Daejanique E Prescott, 1st Place Middle School Division

If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today he would have continued to organize generations of civil rights activist of all colors. The movement would not have strayed like it has today, and the killings of black on black crime would not be out of control as it is today also. I believe that Martin Luther King Jr. would have initiated worthwhile solution to combat social and economic depravity among minorities.

Martin Luther King Jr. policed social injustice, and was not afraid to speak his mind or die for the cause. His audacious practice by all mean was practical and set the tone that led to the civil rights Act of 1964.

Martin Luther King Jr. would have been prolific in congress today and I believe his solutions would have bridged the gaps regarding our social crisis that we face today.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a great orator and he knew how to organize people nationwide, which made him a threat because he was a well-educated black man and back in his time white American didn’t accept a black man advice on much of anything. However, today wouldn’t have been any different and Martin Luther King Jr. would have continued enacting new legislation to combat social and economic injustice today.

Even though he was highly dislike and loved at the same time, his popularity today would have soared even higher because of his message of peace, justice and equality for all mankind. Martin Luther King Jr. would have put a stop to the mass incarceration of black men that in essence has destroyed the foundation and structure of black families.

I think that we would be so much more advance socially and economically because injustice ugly head would have been exposed at the roots still today with him present.

Abriana Stewart, 2nd Place Middle School Division

A Dream in Progress
The nation in which we live today is quite different from the time of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Some things are better, but many fall short of what Dr. King dreamed them to be.   Have you ever wondered how this champion of equality and follower of God would react to our country’s current state?

No doubt, Dr. King would applaud with high spirits the many notable advancements over the last fifty years.  For example, it is now common for African Americans to be in positions of leadership, such as company CEOs and even the president of our country.   Only two African Americans had won Oscars at the time of Reverend King’s death and today there are over thirty winners.  Additionally, segregation has been overcome!  However, there are still “gullies” of inequality and he would willingly venture across frigid waters to “begin building the bridge” until his vision for our people was complete.  Dr. King would be disappointed to see the current conflict between police forces and men of color.  His heart would grow heavy to view distressed black mothers abandoned by their husbands, struggling to provide for their children.  And sadly, while it is discouraged, racism still exists.  On June 17, 2015, a mass racist shooting took place in a Southern Carolina church, killing nine African Americans.

Even though the United States is the country with the highest Christian population worldwide, Reverend King would express concern about citizens’ lack of respect for God and their absence of worship.  Giving through tithing has decreased and there are many new idols distracting people from God.  He would be disappointed to hear that bibles and statues of Jesus have been restricted in public places like schools and government buildings.  We sorely miss Dr. King and his compassion and brotherhood for all.

Ava Adams
, 3rd Place Middle School Division

Essay Contest Sponsored By

Alcalay Communications
Governors Inn Hotel
Sacramento County Office of Education