MLK essay, poster winners announced

More than 300 combined entries

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Previous coverage
* A luncheon to honor ‘one who touched the world’
Youth Extravaganza photos and video
‘Don’t let the dream die’
MLK Gala honors ‘Daddy the carpenter’

ELLERBE — Barbara Stroman, co-chair of the Essay and Poster Committee with Dobbins Heights Town Councilwoman Angeline K. David, was enthusiastic with the response from students in Richmond County Schools and their participation in this year’s events. Students wrote more than 100 essays and another 200-plus posters were designed, said Dr. Cindy Goodman, superintendent.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Zair McLain, a junior at Richmond Senior High School, receives a plaque for winner first place in the poster contest from Dr. Cindy Goodman, superintendent of Richmond County Schools.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Zair McLain, a junior at Richmond Senior High School, receives a plaque for winner first place in the poster contest from Dr. Cindy Goodman, superintendent of Richmond County Schools.

Stroman said that speaks well of the community — and it also might help push a beginning artist in the right direction.

“You never know,” Stroman said.

Zair McLain, a junior at Richmond Senior High School, was named first-place winner of the poster contest. Tyrone Moore, an RSHS senior, earned second place while Washington Street Elementary School third grade students Ashley Canas and Connor Mclaughlin earned third and fourth, respectively. Cheyenne McDonald earned Honorable Mention.

The winning posters will be on display at Leath Memorial Library in Rockingham through Jan. 23.

J.J. Bruce, a seventh-grader at Hamlet Middle School, won the essay contest. Gabrielle Bellanger, a seventh grade student at Ellerbe Middle School, was second and Hunter Wayne Wood, a third-grader at Washington Street Elementary School, placed third.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Gabrielle Bellanger read her second-place essay Saturday night at the Youth Extravaganza. First place winner J.J. Bruce was ill and unable to make it Saturday or to the luncheon on Monday in Ellerbe.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Gabrielle Bellanger read her second-place essay Saturday night at the Youth Extravaganza. First place winner J.J. Bruce was ill and unable to make it Saturday or to the luncheon on Monday in Ellerbe.

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1st Place
“Awakening the Dream” 
by J.J. Bruce

The ideas of Martin Luther King Jr., spoken back in 1963, are still important today. It is important that we awaken his dream. Scientists say there are three stages in the sleep cycle. You can connect these stages in the sleep cycle to the events since Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

According to WebMD, the REM stage of the sleep cycle is when we sleep the deepest and have dreams. This period of deep sleep reminds me of how people acted at the time of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, like they were asleep. Even though after the Civil War, when they added the two amendments that said African-Americans were citizens and that black men could vote, some states made it where black men had to do difficult tasks, like take reading tests or pay poll taxes to vote. They had to be in separate schools, restaurants and different sides of the bus, but these sides weren’t equal. On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech of what he dreamed the future would be like. One of the things he said in his speech wa show African-Americans “still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.” This means they were unequal compared to the whites and were pushed away from them. He shows this again when he says, “We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with fatigue from travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.” Just like the sleep cycle moves to the next stage, he knew that “1963 was not an end, but a beginning.

Also according to WebMD, int he second stage of the sleep cycle we are asleep but have occasional bursts of brain activity. This period reminds me of how small things began to happen after Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 24th Amendment that abolished all poll taxes for voting. Then he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion or national origin. After that, in 1965 Congress passed the Voting Act, making it easier for blacks to be able to vote. Later, in 1968, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing. There were still problems, but things were getting better for African-Americans. This stage of the sleep cycle leads to waking up but still needs a little more time.

In the final stage of the sleep cycle we are in a light sleep and can be easily awakened. This is today, and today we need to take responsibility to view others as equal. We can make friendships with people of different races. We can also make friendships with people of different religions. Today we have our first African-American president and Supreme Court justice. These are small things that are leading to a better life for everyone in America.

There are so many similarities between the sleep cycle and how the world has progressed since MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. America started in a deep sleep when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his speech and we have moved through the cycle to get to where we are today — awakening the dream. If each person would look at how we have progressed and make it a personal goal to believe in and promote equality, the world could fully awaken from this sleep. The following quote is a great reminder of how our small changes can lead to big things:

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” — Howard Zinn

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Filed in: Announcements, Arts & Entertainment, Education, Ellerbe/Norman, Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News, Rockingham

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