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City of Cleveland Heights MLK Essay Contest

Posted on February 7, 2023 in Articles

City of Cleveland Heights MLK Essay Contest

On Thursday, January 19, the City of Cleveland Heights held the Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Cleveland Heights Community Center. 35 students were recognized for their Essay, Poetry and Poster contest. Junior Beth Manning was recognized for the following essay:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an activist for racial equity, economic justice, and an end to war. What work does our society still need to do on these issues, and how will you help carry on Dr. King’s legacy?

In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail", Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (King). Best known for his fight for racial equality, Dr. King sought justice throughout our world, and was an avid voice for social and economic change. His equally important message: the need for an end to war and violence in our communities, was negated in his assassination atop a motel balcony, shortly before a march the following week. This violent act did nothing to halt Dr. King’s cause, as those who supported him continued their strive for justice, while his wife was pointlessly left without a husband, and their four children were needlessly left without a father. His work for justice and equality continued on and social and economic progress was made, despite the useless violence enacted upon him. Harrowingly, similar acts of violence are carried out to this day, accomplishing nothing but further turmoil and desolation in our communities.

Throughout the globe violence runs rampant, ranging from individual acts, as was the fashion of the attack on Dr. King, to widespread acts of war and mass destruction. We see conflict and oppression throughout the world, and turn a blind eye, focused instead on violently competing for unnecessary power over one another. Women are denied autonomy and at times even basic care and necessities, while we point fingers and firearms in order to deflect our pain and struggles onto one another. Indigenous peoples are marginalized on their own native lands while intruders destroy one another for unearned control. Every day another array of names to be remembered emerges, as violent intolerance seeks endlessly increasing victims, and more children, spouses, and loved ones are left needlessly alone. Basic education is denied while widespread censorship increases, only to promote harmful and unjust narratives, all leading to continued harm and hatred. Those on top greedily hoard wealth and resources, while those below are left struggling for safety and solution, only to be beaten down further by inequality and injustice. While to many the only solution may seem to be retaliation, Dr. King felt otherwise.

From behind bars, Dr. King continued to see the need for peace, justice, and equality. The horrors of this world stared him in the face and continued to bombard him, yet he refused to reciprocate any blows. He instead wrote, “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue” (King). In order to carry out Dr. King’s legacy, we must confront the violence and adversity with the unwavering strength and courage of the steadfast yet nonviolent. We must rely on maturity and authority, rather than fists and deflection. Only then will the necessary conflict be conquered and the baseless violence extinguished. Furthermore, it will prove that the unwarranted violence which trespassed upon, and eventually ended, Dr. Kind’s life was entirely redundant.