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A Better Partnership

Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Legacy Contest


Warner Norcross + Judd LLP once again invited Grand Rapids sixth graders to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of peace and justice – with a few new twists.
The 16th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Legacy Contest – formerly the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest – was open to all sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools district and asked students to identify and react to a racial social justice issue meaningful to them. New this year was the diverse format in which contest entries could be submitted: photo, painting, video, song, article, quote, essay, poem, spoken word and book, among others. In past years, only essays in response to specific prompts were accepted.
The goal of the contest is to encourage students to think about how King’s legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live. Each student was able to submit one entry. For an artistic entry such as photography, painting or sculpture, the student was asked to provide a recorded or written statement describing the overall vision of the piece, the inspiration behind it and how the piece relates to today’s world.
The submissions were evaluated by 40 Warner firm members on the basis of connection to the contest theme, personal connection, message and overall impact.
This year’s winners are:
  • Trinity Talbert, North Park Montessori – grand prize for “Alone,” a digital drawing that depicts a girl who has been through a lot because of her skin color. 
  • Malachi Eddie, Center for Economicology – first runner-up for “Talking to Kids About Race,” an essay that highlights the importance of teaching children about skin color for their development.
  • Triston Thompson, Grand Rapids Montessori – second runner-up for “A Free Verse Poem of Freedom,” a poem that offers steps everyone can take to bring about the change King sought.
An additional 11 students received honorable mentions. They attend C.A. Frost Middle High School, Center for Economicology, Grand Rapids Public Museum Middle School, North Park Montessori and University Prep Academy.
All winning and honorable mention students and their parents are invited to attend the 35th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Commemoration at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18. This year’s event will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The winners of this year’s contest will present their submissions through a pre-recorded video.  
Each winning and honorable mention student will receive a gift card to Schuler Books & Music and all others will receive a personalized certificate of completion.
The winning submissions are available here.

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