High School Essay Winner

"Keep hope alive!" Throughout my childhood, I've heard these words from the echoes of my ancestors and from the stories of my grandparents. My parents have memories of marching in the streets and fighting for what they believed in. They all fought for peace, justice and brotherhood. As I journey into adulthood, I wonder what my generation will fight for. The dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been realized and lost within today's youth.

During the 1960's, teenagers would march in the streets, carrying picket signs, facing dogs and hoses to fight for Dr. King's Dream to be made real. The children of those very same freedom-fighters are now forgetting that very important fact. Today's generation has forgotten peace while playing violent video games. Justice is shunned every time a young black man is imprisoned for a crime he was wrongfully accused of due to "mistaken identity." Gang wars tear our neighborhoods apart, pulling us further away from brotherhood.

While our parents have fought to give the Dream life, we are slowly killing it by regressing back. It's more socially acceptable to fight for a seat in the back of a bus rather than to proudly take one up front. Students today are pressured into throwing away the education that past generations have fought to recieve. Our voices are silenced when we don't exercise our right to vote. Television and radio immortalizes drugs, sex, and violence. This would be seen as lewd and immoral by the followers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Even the English language is misused in the mouths of today's youth. The use of the "N-word" is commonly used among black teens to address one another. In the past, this word was used to oppress and instill feelings of inferiority among African-Americans.

How do we as today's African-Americans carry on in the spirit of the Dream? First, we must love. Love our neighbor, love ourselves, and even learn to love our enemies. Second, past generations need to teach respect and instill a certain sense of pride within young African-Americans. Finally, by realizing it is not only our right, but obligation, to rise up and not only realize the Dream - we must live the Dream.

Kaylyn Hawins (11th grade)