In remembrance of the king

On Jan. 16, eight Cedar Shoals students received awards for their work in Clarke County School District’s Martin Luther King Jr. writing and art competition. Cedar students swept top recognitions as well as honorable mentions in both writing and art. The winners’ work was displayed at the University of Georgia’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast. 

The students that received awards in writing include freshman Aniyah Warner (1st place), junior Percy Thompson (2nd place), senior Jada Hunter (3rd place) and junior Nikia Jhonson (honorable mention). 

Winners for the art submissions include senior Michelle LeBlanc (1st place), junior Eva Lucero (2nd place), senior Isaiah Moore (3rd place) and senior Davion Hampton (honorable mention). 

“They just gave everybody an opportunity. From all grades K-12, to submit an art or a writing or a poem, anything. Just spread Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” Hunter said.

The competition is an open-ended forum for anyone who wants to spread King’s message.

“I take the MLK writing and art competition as remembrance of him with everything that he did for us in the past about the limits for the people of color,” LeBlanc said.

Students said the contest was not widely advertised at Cedar Shoals, but the winners were glad to submit their creations. Their literature and art teachers encouraged them to submit entries.

“I guess I’m glad. I’m honored that I got to participate in it and was aware of it and actually placing when low-key I was just doing it for a grade. It humbled me,” Hunter said.

The competition was also an opportunity for students to share their ideas in personalized ways.

“My teacher told me there’s a contest and I’m a little competitive. So I was like, ‘That’s a perfect role for me.’ When I found out that it was about MLK, I was like, ‘Oh, okay, that’ll be easy then,’ because I think very deeply about things,” Warner said.

Johnson, Hunter and other competitors felt that this competition was an opportunity for people to create things with a meaning. Not because they were told to, not just because they had nothing better to do, but because there was a message that they wanted to share.

“Feelings are like a roller coaster and life goes up and down like a roller coaster. I said some stuff about how hopes and dreams and MLK gave us that mindset and that strength to have focus on things and to have positivity; to always be working on our own instead of having other people do things. MLK said not to choose violence, but to choose positivity and actually work with yourself and make yourself known instead of choosing negativity,” Johnson said about her submission.

Hunter saw this competition as an opportunity to tell the world what she saw. 

“In my poem … the whole thing was about how, every year everybody’s talking about Martin Luther King, they talk about the March, they talk about everything that he said but those same teachers will have microaggressions toward African American students. I feel like what I wrote about was that everyone keeps talking about it (MLK’s message) but no one really means it. Don’t be like, ‘Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream’ and then discriminate the next month. We’re still out here. Black people are still out here fighting for our lives,“ Hunter said.

Thompson and Warner said that they wanted their work to be up to the viewers’ interpretations. They showed how they were inspired by MLK and how they wanted to inspire others. They wanted something that would make the world a better place, something that would open peoples eyes and remind them of the fight that it took to get here.

Multiple of the winners were very surprised and grateful that they had won. They had entered not expecting to get an award, but still wanting to enter because of themselves. This contest was an opportunity, an opportunity for people with a dream. It was a speech at the Lincoln Memorial for all of the people that wanted to share their dreams for their world. 

“Take advantage of anything. When you’re given an assignment or something that doesn’t go into the gradebook, you should still do it. Because maybe it’ll lead to something that you won’t expect,” Johnson said.

Ella Conway

Sophomore Ella Conway is a new staff writer for Cedar BluePrints. She is interested in majoring in art during college and hopes to become a professional artist. In her spare time she is a part of the Cedar book club, math team, and Beta Club. She also participates in track and field as well as volleyball. Conway’s favorite thing about journalism is working with cameras, photos and visuals.

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