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Mlk Essay Contest 2012

Meredith A. Gingold | First Place | Grades 11-12

An act of hate results in a positive solution

What can a little white Jewish girl like me have to say about such a powerful writer, inspirational speaker and brilliant man as Dr. King? Let me tell you.

Shaleeah N. Goodmon | First Place | Grades 9-10

Peaceful protest puts spotlight where needed

“Central office says we have to have them,” said our principal. We were so heartbroken we felt like prisoners. Central office had ordered us to have metal detectors and a full force of security.

Natalie F. Redding | First Place | Grades 7-8

Despite belief, some don’t use King’s words

As we evolve, grow, change and become new people, we learn new customs and new ways. We learn new rights and new wrongs, yet we continue to fall into our same habits.

Isabella R. Perez | First Place | Grade 6

King teaches generations about potency of peace

“I am convinced that if we succumb to the use of violence in our struggle for freedom, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness...” When I read that quote from Dr. King, I felt passionate about not using violence to solve problems.

Justin T. Mamayek | First Place | Grades 4-5

Use words, not weapons, to solve world's problems

“Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” These were powerful words spoken from the late Martin Luther King Jr. in regard to the violence in the United States for civil rights for all.

Alexander Graham | First Place | Grades 2-3

It's best to walk away from fight

One day, while I was at recess, one of my schoolmates pulled my hair. Instead of raising my fists to hurt him, I chose to walk away and talk to a teacher.

Brittany Jackson | Second Place | Grades 11-12

Positive role models make a difference

Just because someone has done you wrong, it doesn’t mean you in turn have to retaliate against them. Doing evil toward them only brings you down and makes you just as guilty as they are.

Second Place | Grades 9-10

There are peaceful ways to solve differences

There I was face to face with my nemesis, seconds away from blowing him in his face or me getting punched in the face because we both were frustrated with each other.

Madison Kelly | Second Place | Grades 7-8

Nonviolence more effective than violence

If we start taking a stand for what we believe is right, the nonviolent way, individual people will see that the result of nonviolence is much more effective than violence is. And, eventually, the world as a whole will see it too.

Autumn Green | Second Place | Grade 6

Bus injustice ends through peaceful protest

As I rode the Milwaukee County bus for the first time as an 11 year old, I entered the bus with pride. I was allowed to enter the bus and sit wherever I chose; my race is African-American and Caucasian.

Vaughn A. Smith | Second Place | Grades 4-5

Violent world can be a scary place to live

Violence scares me! When my family and I listen to the news, all we hear about is people getting killed. I ask my mom and dad, “Why? Why is there so much violence in the world?”

John Sliwa | Second Place | Grades 2-3

Respect for others is key to getting along

I practice nonviolence in a few different ways. First, when we disagree at home, we try and talk things out. Second, you shouldn’t let people get to you because once you feel hate for them you’re no better then they are.

Ahsan Sikander | Third Place | Grades 11-12

King’s philosophy fits teachings of Islam

Dr. King’s philosophy to attain equal rights for blacks is very similar to what Islam has been preaching ever since the beginning of its existence, over 1,400 years.

The College of the Liberal Arts and the MLK, Jr. Commemoration Committee invite students enrolled fulltime at any Penn State campus for the spring 2016 semester to submit a 1500 word essay on Silence, Betrayal, and Social Justice.
On April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. broke his silence about the Vietnam War well before he gave this speech. He spoke up because continued silence would have meant betraying his ethical convictions. But his critics argued that silence was exactly the right approach. Some worried that speaking up would pit the civil rights movement against its friends in the US federal government. Others complained that speaking up would take King outside his area of expertise, and that he should steer clear of foreign policy and stick to ‘the Negro problem.’ Concerns like these raise questions. When does silence become betrayal? When should one speak up? When must one speak up?
The aim of this contest is to insist on the links between activism and ethical reflection. If we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy with a day of service, we should remember that he had to decide what ideals to serve, and when, and how. All of us have to make this same decision. This contest invites Penn State students to model this decision-making process, and to hone their skills for communicating its results in writing.

Essays should be no longer than 1500 words and will be judged on originality, relevance,
eloquence, and creativity. Submissions should of course demonstrate facility with the
mechanics of writing in English. The contest is open to all full-time baccalaureate students
who are enrolled at any Penn State campus for the spring 2016 semester.

  • 1st place: $750
  • 2nd place: $500
  • 3rd place: $250

All winners will be acknowledged at the Evening Celebration event during MLK, Jr.
Commemoration Week on January 20th at 6 p.m. in Schwab Auditorium.

Winning essays will be published on the MLK website and the Liberal Arts blog.

Submit your essay in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format to penn.state.mlk@gmail.com

Submission deadline: January 13th by 11:59 p.m.

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