Diversity Initiatives

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Speech Winning Essays

Contest Finalists

2011 Finalists
From left to right: Dr. Robert Dion, Kevin Thomas, Kianna Jackson, Andrea Smith, and Lauren Wedding

1st Annual Winner — Laura Guse, North High School

Laura Guse

Martin Luther King Jr. was a revolutionary man. He spoke of non-violent ways to create a society of equality that stirred many people's hearts. He reached many people in his speeches and even got to speak to thousands of people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. where he spoke these words: "I have a dream that one day this nation 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.'" The first four words in this line are the most repeated words in a quote of all time. Whenever someone is asked about Martin Luther King Jr., they most clearly can think of these words. He truly believed that all men are created equal and this was what united people to him, but his life was short-lived. He died at the age of 39 on April 4, 1968. He only got to preach to the people of America for a very short period of time. This thought can make one wonder what would have happened if Martin Luther King Jr. were still alive.

When King spoke, he reached people's hearts and minds at the same time. He dug down deep into issues of racial discrimination and presented alternatives of love and equality. Racists struck down his ideas, but others were moved and worked to better society as he wished. King was a loving man, one that wished people would listen and follow him but he did not force them. If King were still alive, more people would have been moved and maybe certain discriminative qualities all over America would have evaporated sooner. People try to say that discrimination is over and no one has been prejudice since the Civil Rights Movement, but they are so wrong. Still today stories over the news can be heard of people killing others unjustly, whether it is from race or pure hatred. Recently, President Obama has spoken on trying to eliminate hate crimes in certain states, and just because the president has to do this means that discrimination and injustice still exists. If King were still alive, the hate crimes may have been lessened and equality would be more present in the United States of America.

People knew that King was being genuine and that his words ringed true. Our country was formed under the idea that all men are created equal and at the time that King was alive and even now people do not treat each other as if it were true. People continue to dream about equality as King did and so many people have been impacted by this one man in history. To think about King still being alive forty years later is a very whimsical thought, but it is worthwhile to ponder because Martin Luther King Jr. was a man full of integrity and it makes one wonder what more impact he could have put on the people of America. Equality can still be pursued if people so choose and King would be please if others have a dream as well.

2nd Annual Winner — Kevin Thomas, Signature School

Kevin Thomas

Martin Luther King: The Life and the Legacy

Martin Luther King once said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." This saying rang towards the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the eager, listening ears of people who wanted reform. August 28, 1963, marked the day when Martin Luther King Jr. had changed more than just Washington. More than America. He had envisioned a life where everyone would be considered equal, and everyone would prosper. He had begun to change the world.

This historic event took place 48 years ago, and many alterations in society have occurred since then. If Martin Luther King Jr. had never been born, however, racism and segregation would still exist and even burgeon. Martin Luther King Jr. was the exemplar for civil rights, the paragon of justice. Without him, life would be malevolent for me, an Indian from the hot, arid land where the Ganges runs free and nature is all-abundant. There would be no variety in America. The majority would constantly rule over the minority and tensions would erupt. Martin Luther King Jr. gave the minority a voice of reason and hope. Segregation in schools would still occur had King not fought for equality. The minority's children would have to go to a school where they would find no satisfaction, but instead they would go to a school that instills fear. This fear causes more hate, and this hate more detriment. Without Martin Luther King, young, African American children would look at the doors of opportunity as closed. If Martin Luther King had never been born we would have never been able to, as a nation, act as a role model to help these countries on their quest to become industrialized nations. America would become full of arrogance, and we would not participate in national affairs with an open mind. The Declaration of Independence, a document which we hold in our hearts so fervently, summarizes Martin Luther's King's purpose in life: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal." Today, all men are indeed created equal, but would that have been recognized without this man who went against the norms of society and rose in the ranks as the person who ended racism in America?

America has changed. In America we have the Day of the Dead, Diwali, Ramadan, and Hanukah. We have the United Nations, where people from all over the world come and discuss negotiations with other countries. We have a sense of relief for the life of Martin Luther King, without whom, we would never find peace as a nation or as a world.