Rosa Parks Essay Final Four

Rosa Parks Essay Final FourCongratulations to the 10 finalists of the Rosa Parks essay. When I first started thinking about an “Essay Contest” I wanted the students to really think outside the box. For those of you who do not know, I am a single father. I raised my son since he was 10 months old. He was in grade school when his teacher said that he would not be able to do complex math because he wasn’t fast enough, little concentration, lack of focus. I knew my son wasn’t dumb, so I purchased an IBM XT. I had him play math games online. Today, he is an Aeronautical Engineer for NASA. He started working at NASA during the summer of his Junior year in High School! He has a 27-year tenure with NASA, now. I was hard on him, and I want to be hard on each of you. I wanted each of you to be the best you can be and to ask more of you than you thought you could do.

I thought that it was necessary to push students to become better writers and to do better research. I wanted the students to be inquisitive, asking questions of your parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and teachers of what it was like to live when they were growing up. I was looking for derogatory phrases like “Colored Only”, “Wetback”, “Braceros”, “Chink”, “Gook”, “WOP” what did they mean and who used them? I was looking for phrases that were used like “Better Red than Dead,” “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

I was hoping that at least one student would bring up the name of Viola Liuzzo, 1965. She was a white Detroit Homemaker, a Civil Rights Activist who was shot and killed by the Ku Klux Klan, the same day the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, led 25,000 people to Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery from Selma to protest the denial of the voting right for blacks. She tried to make a difference and the consequence was not in her favor. Then there was John Millis Menard, the first back elected to Congress. The white Congress refused to seat him. Or, how about the 1968 Olympics with Tommie Smith and John Carlos, a black glove and a fist raised high in the air, they were suspended from the US Track & Field. Mohammad Ali chose not to go into Military Service and was stripped of his boxing title. However today he is remembered as one of the greatest boxers and most beloved by his fans.

You have the chance for a do-over! You have a chance to use part of your summer studying, researching, writing. You are living in a time that many will not forget for years to come. They say history repeats itself. What happened during the 1918 pandemic? Have we learned anything from what they did then and what we are doing now? I would hope that each of you that will be in grades 5 through 8 will be able to better research, make better arguments when I provide the topic next January! When I was in college we had to write tons of papers. Our professors would use the term “Critical Thinking.” Thinking outside the box; write with a new perspective, a new way of looking at the same issues.

In no particular order, the four winners are:
• Alexander Diaz
• Olivia Ritchie
• Jose Quesada
• Fey Olawale

I will announce where each winner placed in July. I am hoping that we will be able to gather together, maybe still wear masks but come to take pictures, eat some cake and celebrate with your parents, teachers, Principals and whoever wants to come. Congratulations to each of you!

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