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Winners of annual MLK essay contest announced

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By Becky Cassell, Editor

More than 200 entries were received for this year's "I Have a Dream" essay contest sponsored by Greater Campbellsville United and the Central Kentucky News-Journal in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is celebrated today.

First-place winners of the "I Have a Dream" essay contest are: Devin Powers, children's division; Joshua Percell, teen's division; and John Stone, adult's division.

Powers and Percell each received a $20 cash award and two passes to Green River Cinema 6. Stone won a dinner cruise for two at Green River Marina and two movie passes. Each of the three winners also gets a year's subscription to the Central Kentucky News-Journal.

The winning essays accompany this story.

Judges said this year's contest was the hardest yet to judge.

"The teen's and children's divisions in particular had so many wonderful entries. All were extremely well written and were very high quality."

Many of the essays recounted the history of Martin Luther King Jr. and his accomplishments. They also touched on peace and nonviolence and that they wish for both in the future.

In addition to today's front page, the winning essays are also published on the News-Journal's Web site at www.cknj.com.

During a civil rights march on Washington in 1963, King gave one of his most famous speeches, the now infamous "dream" speech: "... I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character ..."

Greater Campbellsville United and the Central Kentucky News-Journal asked participants to think about King's dream and how it has been accomplished. Then, participants were asked to think about their own dreams for a better future for their community, state, nation and world.

Entries were to be no more than 500 words and include the phrase "I Have a Dream" and/or refer to the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in some part of the text.

- Editor Rebecca Cassell can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 227 or by e-mail at editor@cknj.com.

By Devin Powers, Children’s Winner

I hope 20 years from now the world will be a better place. My wish is there be no more fighting and wars where so many innocent people get killed. If people help each other and are kind to each other, we would have a better world.

So many young people die because they are using drugs or kill somebody and end up in prison. This hurts families and communities.

We need strong leaders for our communities. We need strong leaders for our country. Martin Luther King Jr. was a good role model for his children and our nation. He preached for peace and freedom without violence.

It doesn't matter what the color of your skin is, we are all created equal under God.

I try to work hard in school so someday I can get a good job and can pay all my bills and feed my family. I treat people the way I want them to treat me.

Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a peaceful world and so do I. All it takes is for people working together and showing love for each other.

By Joshua Percell, Teen Winner

In a world of violence and greed, we live in the defying face of success without ease. We stare into the eyes of the needy and wonder, "Where is the dream that Dr. King saw?" Yet we climb the hill of pride and are only what others say we can be, and live our lives of weakness and mediocrity.

I have lived in the palm of failure long enough. I want to live in prosperity, with the promise of new hope. We as people have many dreams, but feel as if we will achieve them through the tricky hands of fate.

Yet, when we look and ponder on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, we see that when he envisioned his dream, he knew it wasn't something he could just let the world handle. He realized that it was something that had to be handled right then. He said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter."

Dr. King taught me that race is not an excuse for our downfalls, yet our character and work ethic, work and speak for themselves.

Twenty years from now, I want to be free and successful. Free from what you may ask?

Free from the bondage and slavery of the mind in order to achieve dreams beyond imagination. I want my children and grandchildren to see the glory of success and taste the zest of hard work, working to get what they want and realizing nothing in life is given to them freely. I also want for them to not deny themselves from the greater things in life because of the color of their skin or background.

If all my dreams came true, this would be a much better society. Like Dr. King, my dream of non-violence still hasn't taken full affect, yet we have made great strides.

My dreams are also for people to never see their dreams as impossible. I can achieve my dreams by being an example to the following generation to do big things with small resources.

There are wonderful things in store for each and every one of you reading this essay, but until you tap into your dream as Dr. King did, we will always be the same people we were years, months and days ago. Your future I base on the dreams you have today.

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable ... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."

-Martin Luther King Jr.

By John Stone, Adult Winner

These words sound as if they were taken from Shakespeare himself. They are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As we reflect back on the 20th Century, one could see that nonviolence, a word not considered as a weapon of war, has had as much impact on American society as the atomic bomb had on the Japanese.

Dr. King acquired the weapon of nonviolence from Mahatmus Ghandi's beliefs, that there were peaceful solutions to major problems. Dr. King said, "along the way of life, someone must have sense enough, morality enough, to cut off the chain of hate. To retaliate with hate and bitterness would do nothing but intensify the hate in the world." President Harry Truman once said, "That men make history, and not the other way around."

Dr. King certainly made history. At no other point in recorded history has one man ever accomplished so much in so little time, without war, threat or violence.

Oh wait! There is one man, Jesus Christ. Dr. King's beliefs were rooted in his relationship with God. The majority of Christians in this world agree that the main lesson from the New Testament is love. In John, Chapter 15, verse 13, Jesus said, "Greater love have no man than this, than a man lay down his life for a friend." Dr. King had no greater love. He gave his life for people, for his belief. Jesus Christ, as we all know, also gave his life, and rose again, for people, for love. If Dr. King read this essay he would say he was not worthy of the comparison.

In today's world, it is hard to say if anyone alive is as honorable of a man as Dr. King was. History does a better job of bestowing honor on people than present day does.

At the present time, we find our country at war. A war where violence is ever present. Right now, our country stands in great trials and tribulations. Maybe not problems of slavery or segregation, but problems that are severe and laced with evil.

History will not remember me, not as a great man like Dr. King. I am not worthy to be mentioned in the same breath. But I have a dream. A dream, beaming with enthusiasm and zeal. I have a dream that all mankind will grasp Dr. King's idea of nonviolence. I have a dream that all nations, not just this one, will shout liberty and peace. I have a dream that all men and all women will lay down their weapons for love. We should, history says, that love can and will win.

Today is the history of tomorrow; we are all in charge of it. So let's take the steps to encourage one another to make history. If Dr. King were here now, we could stand on top of Stone Mountain in Georgia, together, and hear freedom ring.