Editor’s Note: The Los Angeles Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) conducted student essay contests revolving around the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration this year at the middle school and high school levels.
Dior Naylor, 15, a sophomore at Vista Mar High School, won the high school competition.
An edited version of her winning essay is posted here.
I have decided to write on the 2020 election, the census, and how full participation in both helps build a “beloved community.”
Martin Luther King Jr. talked about what made Birmingham, Alabama a community.
“In any nonviolent campaign, there are four basic steps: a collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive, negotiation, self-purification, and direct action. We have gone through all of these steps in Birmingham.
“There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of police brutality is known in every section of this country. Its unjust treatment of Negroes in the courts is a notorious reality.
“There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in this nation. These are the hard, brutal, and unbelievable facts. On the basis of them, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the political leaders consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.” — MLK’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail
I believe a “beloved community” is a place that is filled with people that share “good faith” in one another, shaping them into an unstoppable group. It takes love and hard work to make a community. Once our beautiful black boys and girls learn how gorgeous they are in their skin, realize how powerful they are in this country and understand the “good-faith” they have inside of them, they will realize that they are more powerful than any white men in power.
Let me tell you what black love is:
“Standing together / When no one thought you would / Conducting a show / When no one thought you could / When people turned their backs / Thinking “this will never turn out good” / Not realizing black love makes sparks / Like firewood.
“Let me tell you what black love is / I was told that my standards / Were too high and unachievable / I didn’t believe that / I knew those weren’t facts / I wasn’t going to be stepped on / Like I’m some type of doormat / All for one and one for all / They will never see me fall / Because black love doesn’t allow me / To have my back against the wall / Never catch me slouching, always standing tall.”
Now, how will the 2020 election and full participation help to build a “beloved community?” The most simple answer is, go out and vote. When people “aren’t into politics,” they get left with a man who only cares for himself, brags about not paying taxes, allows his wife to steal the great words of first lady Michelle Obama and blames all of America’s mistakes on Mexican migrants.
There is a man named Sen. Bernie Sanders who is proposing to make college free and pay off all $1.6 trillion in student debt. He is also proposing funding to states, tribes and historically black colleges and universities to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees.
My dream college is Howard University, listed number one in sending black applicants to U.S. medical schools. The school has birthed the highest percentage of black doctors and surgeons. You can only guess what I want to be when I grow up, and these dreams will only be able to come true if the black community votes for our rights. Do it for yourself, but also do it for the generations after you.
What really caught my eye about this essay question was the 2020 Census. For three years, President Trump has been trying to kick “illegal immigrants” out of the country to lower the population.
How will full participation help build a “beloved community?” Define it first.
Google’s definition is “A dearly loved group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” This definition is politically correct, but depending on what your take is on a “community,” that is about the only thing correct about the phrase.
The census collects information on the population so that it can determine the number of seats each state will have in the House of Representatives. We in California have the most seats (53), and with our voices, we can make a change. I understand that you can feel like you are in a room full of vultures, but we have to stick together, like Martin Luther King said, and do it for our culture.