FARMINGTON — Some may say Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is not yet reality, but the ideals King espoused in that speech and many others, are getting new attention with the rising generation.
Students from around the state participated in an essay and video contest related to King’s work, sponsored by the Educational Equity department of the Utah State Office of Education.
State winners and their teachers, principals and parents were honored at a luncheon hosted by Davis School District last week.
Seven of the 14 student winners were from Davis County schools.
“We feel (the contest) helps the students learn about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement, it’s challenges and accomplishments,” said Amanda Charlesworth, program specialist for the state equity department.
“This gives the kids the opportunity to look at the world through a different lens,” she said. “It helps them be advocates where needed, and helps them know they need to speak up when necessary.”
The message came through for Connor Kleinman, a Woods Cross student who shared the video award with fellow seniors Davis Johnson and Alex Sutherland.
Their video, as all others in the competition, was based on King’s quote about service:
“Everyone has the power for greatness,” said King, “not for fame, but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.”
The Woods Cross team wanted their video to be as deep as the quote, said Conner, so they filmed in the hills over Davis County, with broad vistas to “evoke the emotion of the quote.”
“The more you think about it, you can start to understand his purpose and how incredible he was,” said Connor. “It’s amazing how true it is and how greatness really is defined by service.”
Rebecca Doud, a student from North Layton Junior High, won the grand prize for the esssay contest in the seventh to ninth grade category.
Her essay, which she read at the luncheon, compared the people of the world to a symphony, where every person has a part and can “make an impact even if we’re not noticed.”
Some people provide the melody, like King, she said through her essay.
But those who add harmonies in support or provide the percussive beats by small acts are also important.
The keynote speaker at the Wednesday luncheon was Nadia Crow, a news anchor and reporter for ABC’s channel 4.
Crow spoke of those who inspired her, both at home and in the workplace, and said civil rights are not just an issue of race, but of religion and gender.
“Dr. King’s legacy matters to all of us,” she said. “His legacy is the way we treat people and the way we carry ourselves. Dr. King’s legacy still lives in all of us regardless of our skin color.”
At the start of the luncheon, Bryan Bowles, superintendent of Davis School District, outlined King’s passion for education, including that he started school before he was technically old enough and that he started his college studies at age 15.
“It’s a wonderful experience to study his work,” he said, “to study his writings and to write yourselves.”
Bowles said a statement made by King has always resonated with him: “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” said King.
Bowles encouraged the kids to live up to that challenge.
“You are in the position – each of you – to stand up, to speak up,” said Bowles, “to continue in the path of education and to continue to always speak up.”