Three 8th grade students from Open Window School in Bellevue will be honored Thursday at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle for their winning submissions to the King County Civil Rights Commission’s 16th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Writing Contest. The students were invited to reflect on Dr. King’s pioneering civil rights work, especially as it related to the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Contest winners are:
- Colin Cameron, first prize
- Audrey Witmer, second prize
- Emma Wineland, third prize
“The commissioners were impressed by the diversity of essay submissions received this year,” said Justin Walsh, chair of the King County Civil Rights Commission.”Incidents of racial injustice continue to occur even today, including through stringent voter identification laws and redistricting. Dr. King recognized the power of voting rights for all, and these students’ essays show that they are also well aware of the importance of this vital right.”
Sponsored by the King County Civil Rights Commission, this year’s contest was based on a theme from Dr. King:”So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind – it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact – I can only submit to the edict of others.”
The essay contest was open to all 8th grade students in public and private schools in King County. The contest encourages students to think critically about Dr. King’s legacy of peace and justice. All essays were judged on the author’s knowledge of Dr. King and his work in the civil rights movement, originality of ideas, insight, clarity of expression, organization, and grammar.
The public is invited to attend the celebration Thursday at the Paramount Theatre, which will feature Maria Gitin, author of the book “This Bright Light of Ours,” an oral history of the voting rights movement in 1965.
The celebration will also include musical performances by the duo of Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons. (end)