How local kids are keeping Martin Luther King’s dream alive

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. But it is clear from the winners of the 33rd Margaret E. Peters's MLK Art, Poetry, Prose and Scholarship Contest that his dream still lives on.

>> Dayton region celebrates life, legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. at 2018 events

An award ceremony was held back in January to honor the students and King.

>> PHOTOS : A closer look at the Martin Luther King memorial at University of Dayton

This year marks both the 50th anniversary of Martin King’s 1968 assassination and his Poor People's Campaign.

Amaha Sellassie, the 2018 chair of Monday's MLK Day March, said King promoted humanity through acknowledging and rectifying injustice.

“Our differences are our own social construct,” he said.

The march starts at 10 a.m. at the Charles Drew Health Center, 323 W. Third Street. Participants are asked to make signs promoting justice.

Like the march, the poetry, prose and arts contest is promoted by MLK Dayton.

More than 80 students from Dayton area schools competed in the contest, according to Darsheel Kaur, an event organizer.

Eighteen winners from seven school were selected.

Below are some of the winning entries from the prose and poetry competition.


Kishuan Hill, ninth grader at Thurgood Marshall

Seventh to ninth grade-group prose winner   


Violence is not a good thing to be apart of, especially when it is happening in your neighborhood. There's a lot more gun violence in the neighborhoods and a lot of people are in gangs nowadays. More children are dying because of this. We need to come together as a country and work on helping our neighborhoods become safer and preventing a large ratio of deaths in our neighborhoods each year. We need to work on getting the drugs, guns, and negativity away from the youth. We need to show the youth what is wrong and what is right and teach them to be successful and more productive with their lives. Each neighborhood should come together and do a fundraiser or even a cookout to keep the youth out of trouble and off the streets. The adults need to realize the type of impact that they have on the youth. They set the example for us, and we need them to be here for us because without an example for the youth, we're just going to think we can do whatever we want without a consequence. We should clean up our neighborhood and make it a safer place for people to live. I dream that one day the neighborhoods in the United States could just come together as one and realize how bad violence is, because when I get older, I don't want my kids growing up in a bad neighborhood. I want my kids to be safe. I want to have an impact on lessening violence in neighborhoods because I'm only fourteen, and I want to live my life and grow up in a good environment. I don't want to be a part of violence, so I'm going to take a stand and use my voice to tell others to not be influenced by violence.

>> PART 1: Wading in the Water: Black History in the Miami Valley 1798 to 2001

Aliyah Holloway, eleventh grader at Trotwood-Madison High School 

Tenth to twelfth grade-group prose winner 

“The Role of Youth in the Struggle for Justice” 

Youth play a critical role in the struggle for justice because they are the next generation. They are the future voices and determine how our society will be in the years to come. As far as justice, youth have to use their voices to speak out against the injustices of the law and world around us. The young have to use their unalienable rights granted to them by the constitution and assemble together and peacefully protest their beliefs. Society overlooks the young and considers them to be "weak," having no voice, but in reality youth are very strong and superior. Youth have not had enough time for their minds to be conformed and stabilized to the opinions of society. Teens have a blank mind, or what Locke would have stated a "tabula rasa," and this is shaped by experiences, so the young are stronger than what they appear and make a huge difference in the fight for justice.

A prime example of the youth taking advantage of the justice system would be the creation of the organization "Black Lives Matter." "BLM" is an activist movement, which started in the African American community, that campaigns against violence and racism towards black people. This association all began because the young African Americans witnessed the cruel and unusual treatment of their people and wanted to make a difference. Although the group is not only made of children, there are a lot of youth participants who want to fight out against police brutality, and right these wrongs in our corrupt nation. Black Lives Matter speaks out against worldwide tragedies. It is able to broadcast to the public what the government would want to keep in secret. A powerful motto "BLM" goes by is "they are the rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation." This means a lot because they are fighting for justice for all and not just a certain person. As citizens, we have to realize and practice those rights that our founding fathers granted us. The youth generation is more outspoken than previous age groups, and this is why I feel their role is so essential for the struggle for justice.

Social media is a huge factor that youth can use that will help them right injustices. Technology has advanced majorly in the past decades, and teenagers now use social media accounts to communicate with their peers, spread news, put information out to others, etc. Some may argue that these accounts do more harm than good, but in the case for fighting for justice, it's very beneficial. Social media allows these young people to publicly display cruel treatment, especially police brutality against African Americans, to the world and let others see the crimes being committed. The older generation did not have this helpful tool, so it was harder for them to deliver and get the message across, which is where our youth take the burden and carry out their purpose. Most teens are very quick and immune to all of the new machinery, and with a tap of a button, they can quickly go viral, which is why they are so fundamental for the fight. With the help of social media and our youth, together they take the blindfold off of Americans and expose them to the reality of our so-called "Land of the Free," which is truly all a fantasy.

There are many other reasons why youth are so critical in the struggle for justice. Don't get me wrong. Adults contribute tons of help towards the fight, because without their help, everything wouldn't be able to get done properly. The struggle and fight for justice takes everyone's aid to succeed and see changes, and by everyone I mean every member of the family. The fight will not be easy because there are a lot of wrongs in different aspects of culture, and some may be more seen than others. We must keep using our voices and speaking out against these unfit and unusual ways, keep using our resources (technology) to help us, and never let the fire in you for justice die down. I believe if everyone does these things and lives this lifestyle plus more, the struggle for justice will get easier and we will see less abuse against our human rights worldwide. What will you do now to right a wrong you've witnessed?

>>  PART 2: Wading in the Water: Black History in the Miami Valley 1798 to 2001

Foxcci Bennett, senior at Trotwood-Madison High School 

Twelfth grade winner 

“What Have I Done to Help Make One of Dr. King’s Dreams a Reality?”

In Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, one of his dreams he speaks on is judging people by their character and not the color of their skin. "I have a dream that my four 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" (MLK Jr 5). I decided to pick this specific quote inside of the speech because this is the most common dream I bring to reality on a day-to-day basis.

Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired me to have an open mind about every person I meet. When I'm in the grocery store, at the shopping mall, in traffic, and at other every day places, I am always open to meeting new friends no matter what race you are. I know a lot of people, some who are close friends that are rude or not as friendly to races that aren't their own. No matter how close I am with someone, I will always tell you right from wrong. For instance, I once had a friend and she was very smart, but she would always show a different side of herself when we were around different races. At the time I worked at a shoe store inside of the mall and mostly all of my coworkers were Caucasian. My friend saw one of my coworkers in the mall and started to criticize her clothing and it hurt my feelings. I told my friend that she was wrong. Of course she didn't think what she said was a big deal, but she apologized for offending me. When I told her how I felt about judging someone she didn't know based on their appearance, she listened and her mood changed. I believe she actually understood what she said was wrong and why because ever since that day she has made friends within different races, and she doesn't degrade other races to my knowledge anymore.

Another point that stood out to me spoken by Dr. King was when we as Americans start to come together, we will become united and we will overcome the racial injustices within our country. We will then become the great nation America is supposed to be. "When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last, Free at last, Great God almighty, we are free at last.'" I have already paved the way for most people that are around me. I surround myself with good Godly human beings, and we all love to make the world a better place one step at a time. It is so easy to be kind to others you do and do not know. Love and kindness were the keys to all happiness when I was growing up, and to see people hurt and lonely makes me put myself in their shoes to see how I would feel if someone was rude to me because of the color of my skin. That is why I encourage the people around me to always be kind no matter who the person is.

The main reason I love Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech is that through all of the trials and tribulations of African Americans, he stands to speak in a peaceful, forthright and passionate manner about an issue so controversial in that time frame. It makes me want to go out and protest more and work harder to stop violence in my community because there are more ways to be heard and understood. "With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day" (MLK Jr 5). Knowing that I am making a difference when I help my peers calm down from something that is bothering them to the point where they want to involve violence really inspires me to work harder to help our country be as great as it can be one day. When I see someone angry and they want to add violence to the situation, I completely steer them away. If I don't, I try my best, saying things my mother told me when I was younger, because a lot of people don't have that guidance that I did growing up: "You're worth more than violence," "You shouldn't let anyone take you out of your character," "You're too smart and pretty," etc.

In conclusion, I believe in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dreams. I live by them in everyday situations. I lead by the example of the "I Have a Dream" speech without even recognizing it. I would love to get more people in my community involved in making our country a better, more friendly, loving and free country. Different race or not, everyone deserves to be treated equally because of the simple fact that we were all born humans.


Solañe Bass, senior at Trotwood-Madison 

Co-twelfth grade winner 

“More to Overcome”

Oh, how my heart breaks!

With every shamed eye-

Lighter, whiter!

Their hands reach to the sky

And confusion settles.

Haven't we proven our worth?

Dark chocolate is richer

Than the jewels of the earth.

Yet still they cry

Those sorrowful pleas

For our country is not

One easily pleased.

An internal ailment

Has clouded their eyes,

And the true judge of beauty

Has been disguised.

The battle's been fought,

We thought we had won,

But I can easily see,

There's still more to overcome.

Caleal Bryant, eleventh grader at Trotwood-Madison 

Eleventh grade winner 

Prose Poem 

I don't wanna be black, I don't wanna be white, I just wanna be a man today. I been up to no good, I wish I could change it all. If I could rearrange my heart to be good, I'd rather be a different man in another world than work for the man in my universe. I wonder what would it feel like. If you're from where I'm from, everyday ain't magic. We betray each other, we lie, we take from one another. I'm locked up and half my friend. And then when I get out, or I make it out, I'm expected to somehow give back to the people who never wanted to me get set free. So black I'm blue, so brown I'm down. I've been everywhere but up, and when I finally get up, I am ravaged with guilt and pain and shame. The darker you are, the closer you are to dirt and they make sure it hurts and I'm tired of hurting. I'm tired of being looked at, second guessed, doubted, feared. Everybody in the world only wants one thing: Infinite power and a pocket full of wealth. We will overcome this constant feeling of our mind and body being on the edge. We will rejoice in this gift that is life. Starting with mental health. We will accept ourselves as we are and we will be happy with the person we see in the mirror.

Shelby Langston, senior at Trotwood-Madison

Co-twelfth grade winner and tenth to telveth grade category winner 

“The Role of Youth in the Struggle for Justice”

As youth, we are told not to make w a v e s.

The world we live in, filled with pain, suffering, evil, and Injustice

Peace /pēs/-noun

--freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility

Jus·tice /ˈjəstəs/- noun

--Just behavior or treatment

"Don't Make Waves"

They tell us not to make a disturbance

A disturbance against these ways could be dangerous, they say



"Don't Make Waves"

A d I s t u r b a n c e

As if we, the youth, are disturbing the peace.

… as if there was peace here to begin with…

We were born in a world filled to the brim with violence and oppression

We were taught ways to AVOID conflict and not how to RESOLVE it

We were told "Don't Make Waves"

Today. We stand. Tall. Proud. Undefeatable. Unafraid. And we, Make Waves.

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