News & Events African-American History Month Essay Contest Winners

Published on April 5th, 2016 | by editor


African-American Heritage Month Essay Winners Argue for Equality

Which lives matter? This deceptively simple question was the prompt Wright students were asked to address by English professor Michael Petersen and African-American Heritage Month Committee Chairperson Reina Williams in the 2016 African-American Heritage Month Essay contest. Responses came from students of all backgrounds, provoking some very interesting ideas regarding equality.

Each essay chosen for recognition at the African-American Heritage Banquet that capped off Black History Month at Wright thoughtfully addressed the challenges faced by minorities in the United States today. Uriel Saldivar took home first prize and a $200 gift certificate for his essay “Who Matters.” In it, he acknowledged that “the struggle for equality in minority communities has always challenged institutional racism,” while offering a hope that these “efforts will culminate into ending the devaluation of minority lives.”

Many essayists argued for a focus on humanity rather than race including second place honoree Marisol Lay, who wrote “in order to create a legal system of justice, security of civil rights, and for all citizens of the United States, Americans must begin to think of the human race and not ancestral lineage.” Honorable mention winner Azuka Okasili had a similar position that “the call for ‘Black Lives Matter’ is for change,” but that “there are no true black or white people, but shades of people.” Tatiana De La Cruz addressed the need for a movement saying “it’s not that using “All Lives Matter” isn’t right,” in her honorable mention essay, “but (that) it isn’t relevant to the problems that the “Black Lives Matter” movement is trying to fix.”

Third place winner Amanda Jiang asserted that parents “should teach (children) the greatness of a diverse community” in her essay, and that “it is through cultural diversity that all our lives our fruitful and interesting.” One certainty is that the cultural diversity at Wright makes our campus a fruitful and interesting place for students, faculty and staff alike. Congratulations to all the winners on this wonderful achievement!

Please check out the gallery of our honorees as well as their winning essays via the links below, but be aware there is some explicit language due to the sensitive nature of the topic.



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