In honor of the universally-known works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the message he sent forward, the Howard County MLK Holiday Commission hosted a celebration on Jan. 15 in which awards were presented to the winning contestants of their annual essay competition. Seniors Blake Morris and Briscoe Turner won second and third place honors, respectively.
Although the essay prompt differs each year, it continuously works to promote King’s message. Contestants this year were presented with a simple, yet intriguing prompt that related directly to his teachings: Describe your dreams and vision for the world.
Students were able to bring up any issues of justice as long as it fit the guidelines given. Morris and Turner had their words of “promoting the teachings and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” recognized, and they received honorary credit for their contributions.
Turner said, “It was actually pretty easy to write, mainly because I had spent a lot of time already thinking about it.”
Her message was inspired by MLK, but she focused on an overall topic that goes above and beyond racism itself.
“I want to give people the courage to use their voice,” Turner said, whether it is a vision that is very important to someone or it is just a topic that should be brought up. Turner also emphasized the idea of free speech and encouraged others to act on their hopes.
Morris’s idea for the prompt differed but was again based on respect and understanding.
“Although I haven’t ever experienced that [racism] personally, I know what it feels like to be looked at differently,” said Morris.
He brought up gay and transgender issues and wrote that he hopes for an even brighter, more respectful future in a world where these issues are more relevant than many realize.
The two seniors wrote about topics close to home and were honest in their approach and ideas, which is why they said neither faced much difficulty writing their submissions.
Turner commented on how students should be encouraged to try out contests such as this ,“especially if you’re interested in writing in the future,” she said.
Both students agreed that people should write about whatever they can, especially if it is something that impacts their lives.
Whether someone is an especially talented writer, simply enjoys writing, or just wants their ideas to be heard, writing can affect everyone and has the ability to influence people’s lives in powerful ways. Turner and Morris both enjoyed participating in this contest because it allowed them to speak freely about important issues. They did it in an open, understanding way that hopefully inspires others to do the same.