Devin Major, Moore's Island All-Age School, Abaco
Nassau, Bahamas -
United States Embassy is pleased to announce the results of the Sixth
Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Essay Contest. The
purpose of the annual contest is to encourage Bahamian students to
explore the life of Dr. King and reflect on how civil rights and
diversity affect their lives today. This year, students were asked to
select an American civil rights leader who was inspired by Dr. King and
write an essay that articulates that leader’s contribution to the civil
rights movement. Students were also asked to describe what they can do
or what they have done in their own communities to contribute to a more
peaceful and non-violent world.
year the Embassy received over 90 essays from high school students
attending public and private schools in New Providence, Grand Bahama,
and the Family Islands. The following four students were selected
winners and will each receive the grand prize - a new Apple iPad 2.
Cedric Munroe –Doris Johnson Sr. High, New Providence
Topic: Dr. Maya Angelou
Benita Delaney –Sunland Baptist Academy, Grand Bahama
Topic: John R. Lewis
Devin Major –Moore’s Island All-age School, Moore’s Island, Abaco
Topic: Reverend Jesse Jackson
Stevanno Miller –Preston Albury High School, Rock Sound, Eleuthera
Topic: Reverend Jesse Jackson
honour of Black History Month, during the month of February, officials
from the U.S Embassy will visit each school to formally recognize the
winners. U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, John Dinkelman will recognize Grand
Bahama’s winner on his first visit to the island on February 16.
Moore’s Island All-age
Moore’s Island, Abaco
King Jr. Inspiration
I too have felt the sting of inequality. In times like these I
have derived strength from those who have been at the helm of black
struggle. Dr. Martin Luther King and his predecessor Jesse
Jackson have been my motivation. At a time when it was dangerous
to stand for right, these men made themselves targets to empower black
people. They fixed their eyes on the future, despite the mountain that
stood in their way. Indeed I am a new student to Moore’s Island
and many days I feel, making it from one day to the next is a mountain
I must climb. Daily I go to a school where I am the new girl and
I am no one’s sister or cousin. To everyone, I am a stranger.
This new road I am on is a lonely one but like Dr. King and Jesse Jackson,
I want to defy the odds.
I am a victim of teenage pregnancy, but this does not mean that I have
to choose that path. Jesse Jackson’s example empowers me to
soar further than those around me could ever imagine. So, this means
refusing the sexual advances of my classmates and enduring the hardships
of being thought of as unpopular. As a black student, Mr. Jackson was
enrolled at an all-white school and scared off by an angry mob of whites
for his beliefs. Despite this Jackson’s charge was, “Excellence
is doing your best against the odds, as I run for President, I run against
the odds.” I too want to rise above the things that challenge me and
make myself and my environment better.
High school teens celebrate with their classmates when they do wrong.
I know these students are behaving in this way because they are simply
bored and have not found their calling in life. I believe that, if our
school had enough after school programs, more children would begin to
use their time and youth for good. For example, although Junkanoo isn’t
a really big thing in Moore’s island, starting a Junkanoo group helped
many teenagers to occupy their time. Because Moore’s Island
All-age is ostracized from main stream Bahamas and generally does not
get the financial support from the Ministry of education, this reality
prodded me to advocate for a Technical Cadet program. This program
is desperately needed at my school to create the proper business mindset
for our future graduates. Our high schoolers desperately need
this program, because for most of them Abaco is the world and the core
subjects here is not adequately preparing them for the future. Jackson
and Dr. King were both men that faced inequalities fiercely. As for
me, I will not allow the inadequacies which exist at my school to prevail.
I will make this island a better place through the power of the pen
and my voice. Moore’s Island All-age School will be better because
I am prepared to knock until the door is opened.
Cedric Munroe, Doris Johnson Sr. High, New Providence
Doris Johnson Sr. High
not a past tense for me. Dr. King continues to have an impact on my
life, as he does upon the lives of many people in the world. A dream
never dies. I’m trying to be that fair person, that kind, generous
and courageous person, that loving person that Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr. was and encouraged us to become.” -
Marguerite Ann Johnson, more commonly known as Dr. Maya Angelou, was
born on April 4, 1928. She is a known actress, activist, poet, author
and an Academy of Achievement inductee. This “Phenomenal Woman”
has inspired many persons. She has inspired me to write poetry of my
own, a few of which have won awards. Dr. Angelou fights for civil rights.
She advocates equality among all races and same sex marriages, and motivates
teen mothers and neglected persons to surmount their struggles.
Angelou has traveled the world teaching moral values and virtues. She
has been the voice for those who don’t have the courage to speak.
Dr. Angelou volunteers her time at high schools around America to divulge
her life experiences. Having been a teenage mother, she knows the cruel
pejoratives that premature mothers face. She has dedicated a portion
of her autobiography, “
I Know Why
The Caged Bird Sings” to them. Dr. Angelou has counseled teen
mothers, built their courage and motivated them to aspire for transcendence.
addition, Dr. Angelou has focused on neglect within the black community.
After witnessing blacks fighting blacks and committing adultery, she
perceives these as “acts of negligence.” To this end, Dr. Angelou
has spent much time educating blacks of the importance of being their
brother’s keeper. Through her lectures at Wake Forest University,
she has encouraged youths to be concerned for the welfare of others.
Dr. Angelou is an advocate of same sex marriage. Dr. King’s teachings
are evident in the works of Dr. Angelou. In order to eradicate this
prejudice in society, Dr. Angelou has used her poetry to make others
tolerant and more accepting of the gay community. She has recited her
Still I Rise” at same sex conferences across America.
Presently, she fights for the rights of gays with the intention of abolishing
discrimination against them.
Dr. King and Dr. Angelou have inspired me to be a difference maker.
I have made it my goal to make the world a more peaceful place. At my
school, I’m the Vice President of the Interact Club. We’ve donated
money and labor to the needy, and also comforted the elderly. My student
council body and I have implemented a peer-tutoring program, to work
with the academically challenged at my school. Additionally, as a prefect,
I have taken time to talk with my male peers about anger management.
Dr. Angelou’s words, “You may encounter many defeats but you must
never be defeated” serves as my motto. Dr. King inspired Dr.
Maya Angelou, and she has inspired me. Now, I must inspire my peers
to personify Dr. King’s morals.
Benita Delaney, Sunland Baptist Academy, Grand Bahama
Sunland Baptist Academy
Freeport, Grand Bahama
Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice
everywhere.” – (The Quotations page, 1) Dubbed, ‘one
of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced’,
John R. Lewis decided at a young age that he would be an instrument
of change in the American Society. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr. resonated with John Lewis, fueling his desire to become an activist.
Compelled by observing the social prejudice around him, he did not allow
his humble beginnings to deter him from his ambitious dream of becoming
a world changer. (US House of Representatives, 1)
his life, Lewis has made some outstanding contributions in efforts to
eradicate injustice. While in college, he organized ‘sit-in demonstrations
at segregated lunch counters.’ He and his colleagues were humiliated,
beleaguered, abused and eventually imprisoned’; but none the less,
their efforts remained relentless in the struggle for equality. In the
1960’s he became a freedom rider, opposing the discrimination against
Black people on interstate buses. During these rides John Lewis jeopardized
his safety by sitting in seats reserved for white clients. He was so
passionate in his pursuit to help end segregation that he was involved
in audacious demonstrations; despite his awareness that the repercussions
of his actions could endanger his ability to graduate from American
Baptist Theological Seminary. (Academy Of Achievement, 1), (The Martin
Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, 1)
Lewis had an integral part in the formation of the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee. As president, he was responsible for the arrangement
of a campaign called ‘Mississippi Freedom Summer’ which sought
to implement voting rights for Blacks in the South. (Academy Of
“Those who love peace must learn
to organize as effectively as those who love war.” - Martin Luther
King Jr. This powerful quote is a very realistic one; fighting for peace
does not require physical blows but it is essential that it leaves an
impact. In order to leave an impact, we must devise strategies that
are so elaborate that they successfully counteract the matter we are
against (Good Reads, 1).
would consider myself a peacemaker in my community. I detest the very
thought of violence and disharmony, therefore, I strive to resolve conflicts
in a peaceful manner. When I observe tension between two individuals,
I usually get feedback from both sides in order to identify the problem
and help to find a solution that will bring about reconciliation. I
Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turneth
away wrath but grievous words stir up anger.” (Full Life Study Bible
p 944) My passive personality contributes to my natural instinct to
avoid confrontations. I guess you can say I was born to be an advocate
for peace. As a mixed raced child, I have learnt to focus on how our
differences make us unique, rather than how they separate us. My upbringing
has increased my sensitivity toward matters of equality among people.
I am infuriated when crude racial remarks are made and always driven
to provide a strong defense. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, I
believe ‘we must be the change we wish to see in the world’. (Schipul,
Stevanno Miller, Moore's Island All-Age School, Abaco
Preston Albury High
The entire world owes a debt
of gratitude to the Civil Rights Movement and, in particular,
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His sacrifice and the stand he took to empower
black people have changed race relations worldwide. Many black Americans
experienced firsthand the ‘Jim Crow’ Laws that enforced segregation.
The Civil Rights Movement was organized to change the regulations which
denied blacks the same rights as other Americans. Dr King made an invaluable
contribution to the Civil Rights Movement.
the numerous Civil Rights leaders in the United States, I am humbled
to focus on the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Born in Greenville, South Carolina,
in 1941, Jackson worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.
King chose Jackson to form a group of black business and religious leaders
in Chicago. The group began a successful program called Operation Breadbasket,
whose sole purpose was to develop greater job opportunities for blacks.
1971, Jesse Jackson began another group called People United to Solve
Humanity (PUSH). This organization encouraged large businesses to give
jobs to blacks. The group also started educational and job training
programs to enhance the skills of blacks. Later, Jesse Jackson felt
that ‘Black Power’ could be further gained through the ballot
box. He travelled the country telling blacks to claim their right to
vote. His idea was the more blacks who voted gave them a better chance
to elect blacks into positions of power as head councilors, as mayors
of cities, and as members of congress. They would get justice more effectively
this way. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson shared the
same goal, “An equal place for black Americans in the life of the
United States”. (A History of the Twentieth Century p. 131)
Jackson lost his first race for President of the United States, he worked
to register new voters. Two million more democratic voters registered
between 1984 and 1986, most of whom were blacks. As a black political
leader, he was able to change the thinking of many American voters.
In addition to his political career, he encouraged many students in
the inner cities to avoid drugs and embrace a good education.
community is rapidly changing. A number of foreign nationals as well
as Bahamians from other islands are taking up residence. There is a
need for these persons to adjust and feel accepted. As I have a responsibility
to contribute to a more peaceful and non-violent world, I ensure that
these persons are made to feel a part of the community. Therefore, whenever
we are on the basket ball court, I ensure that those of my age are involved
in the game. When there are community events I interact with them and
ask my peers to be kind to them. I also try to be a positive role model.
I attend church regularly and take part in a number of community functions.
I talk with my peers and encourage them to stay away from gangs. As
a young teenager, I also show respect for myself and persons older than
I. Like Dr. King and Reverend Jesse Jackson, I am determined to make
a difference. What better way to begin by making a positive impact on
my peers! One day I hope I am able to influence someone positively,
leaving an everlasting impact on his/her life.