Call to Action

MLK student essay contest shines light on injustice

March 2021

The Martin Luther King, Jr., Sacramento Region Essay Contest was created to engage youth in King’s legacy, vision and leadership. Reflecting on Congressman John Lewis’ fight for civil rights through peaceful protests, youth writers were asked to (with COVID-19 health guidelines in mind) “describe an injustice that you see in today’s society and what you can do to address the issue and advancement of John Lewis’ call to action.” The contest was open to middle and high school students in Sacramento, Yolo, Placer, El Dorado and Sutter counties. Inside Sacramento is pleased to publish the top two winning essays:

First Place (High School Category)
By Hang Trinh

In today’s society, adults often experience various forms of injustice at work and in public. Likewise, children also undergo injustice in the form of bullying at school. In the case of bullying, an individual with more power unfairly harms one who is more vulnerable. In primary school, while waiting for my parents, I witnessed a scenario where an older student picked on a younger student. Witnessing the unjust act, I told myself that I could not remain silent even if it meant involving myself in trouble. Thus, I intervened and explained to the older boy how his actions could profoundly hurt the younger boy. Taking in my words, the older boy understood and quietly walked away. The younger boy then headed towards me with a relieved face, embraced, and thanked me. At home, I told my parents the story. Coming to my cousins’ house, I told them the same story and the injustice behind bullying. By talking to my cousins, I realized that I have the power to influence others to end such an act of injustice. From there, whenever witnessing bullying scenarios, I step in and intervene. When interacting with younger kids, I inform them about bullying and its consequences. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Congressman John Lewis selflessly risked their lives to advocate for equality. As I support their mission through the simple acts of continuing to intervene in bullying scenarios and spreading the word, I hope that you can join me in ending bullying as well as other acts of injustice. Amid this health crisis, remember to practice social distancing and put on your mask before taking action! Together, humanity can further Dr. King, John Lewis, and other heroic activists’ mission in promoting equality. May the end of injustice come in the near future.

Hang Trinh is a ninth-grade student at West Campus High School in Sacramento.

First Place (Middle School Category)
By Jack Simon

Since the importation of African slaves early in America’s history, an implicit bias of Black Americans was created. Currently, racism appears as violent killings of unarmed African American men and women. Additionally, the struggle to get necessary PPE to Black Americans to survive the COVID-19 pandemic safely is a symptom of racism. Racism has sparked mostly peaceful protests across our country like the Black Lives Matter movement. Today, racism continues to be an injustice, which is commonly fought within peaceful protests. The COVID-19 pandemic was just appearing in the U.S. when the news of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery surfaced. He was simply on a jog when he was shot by two white males in a pickup truck. In the summer, an iPhone video was released of three police officers on top of George Floyd, which resulted in his death. There were large marches to honor George Floyd and for people to voice their opinions about systemic racism in America. With COVID-19 roaring, the protests of George Floyd’s death against racism set an example of peaceful and safe protests. Many protestors wore masks and other PPE, setting an example for others to stand up for what is right, but also to protect fellow Americans. Just like MLK and John Lewis, peaceful and safe protests are the key to fixing what is wrong in our country. The legalization of gay marriage and other LGBTQ+ rights resulted from peaceful protests. What I can do to combat racism is to attend peaceful protests and other forums against racism. The countless protests against the killings of unarmed black men and women have led to laws being created to outlaw chokehold and no-knock warrants. Therefore, I should join peaceful and safe protests to combat racism in my community.
Jack Simon is an eighth-grade student at a private school in Sacramento.

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