D300 essay contest winner shares insights about MLK
By Emily McFarlan Miller email@example.com March 12, 2013 5:36PM
Hampshire High School sophomore Immanuel Hartsfield of Gilberts won this year's Black History Month essay contest, sponsored by District 300 and the African American Parent Advisory Committee. March 12, 2013 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Winning District 300 Black History Month essay
By Immanuel Hartsfield
Sophomore, Hampshire High School
As an African American student who feels that talking about Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy is always brought up and he is the only African American leader most Americans know of. I cannot deny, nor forget the great contribution he has had on not only African Americans, but Americans altogether. In my opinion he is the most inspirational and influential leader of all time. He has contributed a great deal and has given America what they needed at the most opportune time. Reverend King gave his life to the people of America and changed the course of our history forever.
Most people feel that blacks were the only ones bound during slavery and during civil rights times. They feel this way because, blacks wore visible chains and were physically tortured by whites. But after processing many lessons on African American history and learning lessons of life throughout the years, I have come to a realization that whites were enslaved as well. Caucasian Americans were enslaved to a hateful heart, which in my opinion kept America from progress. They could not see past blacks’ color, and missed the benefits of an integrated culture, due to hate and ignorance they suffered from. For many years they could not share love with their “brother from another mother”. They could not reap every benefit of black people’s creative ideas and intellectual theories making them miss out on the chance of being further along as a society. Since they held the blacks down as a people altogether; it did not allow them to achieve the way they can today. This is the very reason why God allowed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to be born, and lead so many hearts to a truth we are still striving to unravel today: freedom.
Dr. King grew up as an intellectual genius helping him get into college much sooner than most students. Like many he had to suffer from the slavery that still bound up all Americans even after Abraham Lincoln “abolished” it. But what made Dr. King different from everyone else, was how he dealt with this problem, and his ability to recognize the love preached by Jesus in the Bible and Gandhi’s ways of peace, as a path to set things right in America. Dr. King touched the lives of the American people; helping them to see that it’s not a fight between black and white; like Malcolm X described it, but it is battle between right and wrong, good and evil. He lead us to see that “We the people of the United states, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility,” must have loving hearts, and judge based on the contents of one’s character.
He would like us to realize that we can only progress as American people, if we work together in love and brotherhood. This is why it breaks my heart every time I see on the news that kids have been gunned down in the city of Chicago. I am saddened when gang violence is so prevalent that Innocent victims can die any day from it, when gang related rap has reached the young people of rural areas and suburbs of our nation. We missed the whole lesson Dr. King labored so hard to give us; the lesson he believed so much, that he was willingly martyred for it. He described to us that we must to turn the other cheek, and act with love towards hate and injustice. He preached that we have to stand up for what is right, and in my opinion we need another leader to help lead us out of our rebellion to his goal for this nation.
But not everyone has missed the lesson preached by Dr. King his whole life, which is why he’s at the top of my list of people who made the biggest contribution to American society. Because of Dr. King we can say major progress has been made towards equality for every American citizen. Barack Obama President of the United states is a symbol for this progress; God has used this man from both black and white cultures and put him on top of the America. This is because of Dr. King’s willingness to teach us about the love he learned from God’s word and from a number of just leaders. Reverend King’s dream, even though it has not been reached completely yet, has shaped America’s society today. Our response to Dr. King could be thank you for teaching us that everyone’s equal, we are grateful for your ability to help us recognize and see that all God’s children deserve a chance. You have shaped how we think as a people today and because of you Dr. King, America is at a place that we could never have reached without your contribution. Martin Luther King Jr. will never be forgotten for the work that he paid so dearly for, without his contribution, there is no telling where we would be and both whites and blacks could possibly still be in chains.
Updated: April 16, 2013 3:14PM
HAMPSHIRE — Immanuel Hartsfield, 16, of Gilberts didn’t want to write an essay about Martin Luther King Jr.
As someone who wants to become a doctor or follow his parents — whom he calls his “mentors” — into ministry, it’s the contributions of doctors like Ben Carson that Immanuel focuses on, he said. And it feels like King always is brought up — that he is the only African American leader most Americans know about, he said.
But as the Hampshire High School sophomore worked on his essay for the contest celebrating Black History Month in Community Unit School District 300, he said, he realized no other leader had been more inspirational or influential. And that’s not just for African Americans, but for all Americans, he said.
“Reverend King gave his life to the people of America and changed the course of our history forever,” Immanuel wrote.
That “heartfelt and sincere respect for the legacy that Dr. King left for the future generations” is what led District’s 300 African American Parent Advisory Committee to choose Immanuel’s essay as the winner of its contest late last month, according to AAPAC President Paul Dodson.
“We need all young people to remember as Immanuel does,” Dodson said.
This is the second year of the essay contest, sponsored by the committee. AAPAC also partnered with the Carpentersville-area school district to lead about 50 students from all three district high schools for the first time on a Presidents Day field trip to the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago.
Immanuel, a member of AAPAC’s Student Advisory Committee, said he decided to enter the essay contest this year to show someone his age “can understand the problems in the world and explain how I feel about Dr. King’s contributions, as a kid.”
“A lot of kids don’t know a lot about Dr. King and his contributions — or care — and I want to talk about it and understand it and address it.”
Students in suburban schools, like those in Hampshire, don’t always learn a lot about black history, he added, and he felt it was something he, as an African American, needed to understand. He wanted to know what contributions others had made, and he wanted to “feel happy that my people have actually done something and are not just in Chicago on the South Side, throwing their lives away.”
The gun violence in the city that claimed 500 lives last year -- and, this year, that of high-schooler Hadiya Pendleton — is something Immanuel said he has followed in the news. And it’s something he mentioned in his essay, calling for another leader like King to carry the work to completion.
“We missed the whole lesson Dr. King labored so hard to give us — the lesson he believed so much, that he was willingly martyred for it,” he wrote. “He described to us that we must to turn the other cheek, and act with love towards hate and injustice.”
“He preached that we have to stand up for what is right, and in my opinion we need another leader to help lead us out of our rebellion to his goal for this nation.”
King also showed it’s not just about black and white — it’s equality for everyone, Immanuel said. And it’s not just black Americans who were bound by slavery but also white Americans, “enslaved to a hateful heart,” he wrote.
And the Hampshire High School student wanted to show “Dr. King’s contribution just can be the start — that we can start progressing from there.”