King’s legacy speaks through voices of area youth

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In October 2011, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. To emphasize this significant event, the Committee for King in partnership with the Daily Journal and the Tupelo Regional Airport sponsored an essay contest for Tupelo and Lee County sixth- through eighth-grade students to respond to Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech by sharing how that theme speaks to them today.
Dr. King’s legacy of hope, freedom, justice, equal opportunity, individual human dignity and respect for others speaks through the voices of area youth.
All essay winners will be recognized at the MLK Jr. Commemorative Service at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, at the Tupelo Civic Auditorium. The Grand Prize winner, Alexis Frasher of Guntown Middle School, will fly to Washington for three days to tour the newly dedicated memorial and other historic sites of the Capitol City.

Brier McCurdy
1st-place winner
Sixth grade
Milam Elementary School
Kathy Corban, teacher
When I grow up, I will help the children with special needs, like my dad who has dyslexia. There weren’t always people who would be there for him. He struggled a lot through school.
My best friend in Michigan. He has ADHD. There were very few people that would help him. He and I were like tree bark and sap. I was the strong, supportive outer layer who protected him and kept him from being picked on. I always tried to be a role model.
My mom is a special education teacher. She has taught me that everyone has strengths and everybody has something they need help with. This is why my dream is to help the special needs children of America.

Meredith Hendricks
2nd-place winner
Sixth grade
Guntown Middle School
Angela Doty, teacher
“I have a dream.” Four simple words. And those four words have tremendously transformed this country into a place where people of all races can live freely. Who knew that one man could change a country forever?
Through all the many hardships this country has faced, a hero has always come along to solve our problems. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, and I have a dream. I have a dream that when my children are born into the world, that they will neither be judged by their skin, nor judge someone else by the color of their skin.
I dream that one day racism will be shunned. That we might put down our guns and hold hands. As well as forming alliances with our foreign neighbors. That one day, we may love, cherish and embrace our heritage. I have a dream that we may all live freely.

Jaden Ruff
3rd-place winner
Sixth grade
Milam Elementary School
Sherry McGaughy, teacher
We can change the world by learning to respect each other at all times. We should never make fun of each other. We should always think about how we would want to be treated. If we all get along, we would make the world a better place.
When we play basketball, our team captain is always nice to everyone. She is a good example for our team and the world. The world is a big team. We are all different in size and shape, but we should all still work together as a team. We show respect by not talking mean to each other and by listening while someone else is talking. This is the way that we all want to be treated. If we respect that we are all different but all humans, we will really make the world a better place.

Emily Moore
1st-place winner
Seventh grade
Guntown Middle School
Mimi Blanchard, teacher
We all have different dreams. Martin Luther King’s was to create equality. I have a dream. My dream is to change the world. I’m going to change the world by ending abortion. I was adopted at birth. My birth mother considered aborting me until a co-worker convinced her otherwise. Every person deserves a chance at life. It doesn’t matter if a mother was raped or if she was a teen mom and just didn’t want the baby. Think of all the creative and talented people who might never have been born if their parents had aborted them. Isn’t it weird how if someone kills a pregnant mother it counts as a double murder, but when a child gets aborted, it doesn’t count as a murder? My dream is of a world where all children get the chance I did, to be born and not aborted.

Emma Woolhouse
1st-place winner
Seventh grade
Tupelo Christian Preparatory School
Elaine Bunn, teacher
Imagine a place with no violence. Imagine communities with no hatred. Imagine a world with no wars. That is my dream.
Since I was young, I have wanted world peace. I would love to live in a loving community. “At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love,” Martin Luther King Jr. once said.
People say that the world will always be mean. But I like to think that people can change. I believe that if we all work together, we can stop this age of violence. We can send missionaries to unreached countries. We can start treaties.
I think that this generation will be the generation to help. And not just ending violence. I believe that this generation can help save the earth, help homeless people, and much more.
We can have world peace, if we will stand up for what we believe in.

Anna Claire Priest
2nd-place winner
Seventh grade
Guntown Middle School
Mimi Blanchard, teacher
Martin Luther King was the driving force that ended segregation, yet even with years of progress standing between then and now, prejudice, not just against African-Americans but everyone who is considered “different,” remains. That’s why my dream is to end prejudice against all people, regardless of who they are, or what they look like. Alone, such a goal is impossible to achieve. But if everyone were to come together, united for the same cause, and genuinely strive to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” the world would be one step closer to achieving the dream that so many have fought and died for.

Sophia Barron
2nd-place winner
Seventh grade
Guntown Middle School
Mimi Blanchard, teacher
I have a dream that one day we will be free from discrimination. One day we will walk the earth without being judged by the color of our skin or the nationality we are. One day we will not be bound down by the chains of injustice. Together we can unlock the chains. We can be set free. Until that day comes we must fight for what belongs to us. We will stand up for what we believe. Give me what is mine. Give me freedom. Why judge me for what I look like? Judge me by what’s on the inside, not on the outside. Let me live my life however I want to. Let us join together and rise above it all. Rise up for what you believe in. If we unite, my dream will become a reality.Britton Webb
1st-place winner
Eighth grade
Guntown Middle School
Krista Greer, teacher
I have a dream and maybe that’s all it will be. That beauty will take a different role in the vicious world today. Our beauty is based on our reflection in the mirror, and people believe its clever lies; but we have something that mirrors don’t. We can see under the flesh and bones into the soul where truth exists. True beauty is the characteristics of a human soul elaborated with love, bravery and originality. It is our choice to accept the truth.
I dream of a place of laughter, encouragement, inspiration, but most of all – acceptance. Together forcing envy, covetry, and jealousy away; replacing contentness, passion and joyful bliss. I dream about growing magnificent wings and sparking the fire in others’ souls to provide a foundation as well. Together, we’ll soar over seas, through mountains and beyond heavens where beauty and love are one in the same thing.

Lexi Ballard
2nd-place winner
Eighth grade
Guntown Middle School
Angela Doty, teacher
My dream is that one day kids can go to school and not have to fear being bullied. Over 160,000 kids skip school each day. No, not to sit home and watch T.V., but because they are scared to go to school because they are bullied. Crazy, right? We might as well have signs on the entrances to every school that read “Welcome to our school, where you will be judged on what you say, what you wear, and how you act. Have a nice day.” The words you say to or about someone can affect your and their life. Think about something bad someone has said about you. Focus on the pain and/or rejection you felt after they said that. Do you want to inflict the pain and rejection you felt on someone? No. I want bullying to end. This is my dream.

Samantha Davis
3rd-place winner
Eighth grade
Mooreville Middle School
Sonya West, teacher
When I think about how the world could be better, there’s one thing in particular – humility. No one is better than anyone else, so why should somebody compare themselves to another? Instead of “who has the better phone,” it should be, “how do I use myself as an example for others and serve?”
It doesn’t matter about the nice things in life that you have. Could you give it all up for someone in need? Could you go without your phone or Playstation for a day? Some people don’t have anything. You shouldn’t be extremely proud of what you have. You never know when you could lose it all and be that person you tried to compare yourself to.
You should be thankful but not prideful of your treasured possessions. I think my dream for America is to show humility to everyone around us.