Newburgh - Each year, the "Keeping the Dream Alive" Award Committee challenges students throughout the Greater Newburgh Area to write an essay focusing on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Two students from the 6th, 9th, and 12th grades are awarded for their interpretations of King’s struggles, achievements, dedication and how he lost his life pursuing equality, freedom, and justice for all people. This years essay topic was "Keeping the Dream Alive."
Christina Clyburn, a 12th grade student in Mrs. Reifenhauser’s class at Newburgh Free Academy, received a $250 award, a plaque, and her name engraved on a permanent wall plaque on display in the lobby at NFA for the following essay.
Keeping the Dream Alive
By Christina Clyburn
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential people of our time. Forty-five years ago he inspired millions of people to unite for freedom and paved the way for many minorities to arise and become powerful leaders. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream impacted the hearts of men by serving oppressed communities across the nation and sparking a movement of freedom for all mankind. In spite of the hatred and violence he received, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers remained nonviolent. His dream of freedom, justice and equality for all can only be realized when we each do our part to serve our communities and support one another without prejudice.
"We must all remember that...we still have a choice today; a choice between nonviolence or non-existence. This may be our last chance to choose between chaos and community." In this statement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that if we don’t step up and unite as a community there is no reason for even existing. Many more problems may arise if we as people stay separated and segregated, ultimately resulting in chaos within our neighborhoods. Service to your community is extremely important because the community acts as an extension of family, which eventually becomes a support system. Giving back in service to my community is a part of who I am. I love to help others and tend to put others ahead of myself. I am currently an active member of the Town of Newburgh volunteer Ambulance Corps. Volunteering as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) is one of the best things I could have possibly done with my life. I am prepared to assist medical specialists on emergency calls that can save lives. All the training that I receive will someday help my community when they need me the most.
".. .Nonviolence is the answer to crucial political and moral question of our time - the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed with all his heart that nonviolence was the only way to fight back against oppression and violence. He made it a point in saying that nonviolence is the answer. I too believe in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of living in a nonviolent world. In September of 2009 I had the opportunity to participate in a major nonviolent campaign called Project S.W.A.G. which means. Society at War Against Guns. In lieu of the gun violence in a local inner city, the mayor sought out local organizations, community volunteers and residents for ideas to combat the violence. D.I.V.A.S. of Sister 2 Sister inc., (a youth empowerment organization) of which I am a member, created Project S.W.A.G. The mission of project S.W.A.G. is to combat violence in the community by empowering young people to make wise decisions, develop leadership skills and get involved with positive activities throughout their community. Project S.W.A.G. mobilized over a thousand community residents, over twenty-five local organizations, city and state officials to take a stand against violence and support "PK 4 LIFE." During this free event, anti-violence workshops for youth of all ages took place; basketball tournaments, crafts, career exhibits, free makeovers, haircuts, college recruiters, and entertainment were all available at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, NY. It not only grabbed the attention of the community but also people throughout the region; it brought everyone together to make a difference to fight against the violence in the community. I was overwhelmed by the fact that for that day, close to two thousand people came to support each other and show everyone that violence needs to stop. It was a day of which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been proud.
I believe with my whole heart in the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and everyday I strive to keep his dream alive. Even though I wasn’t born around 45 years ago, his legacy continues to empower and his spirit lives on today. I am proud to know that what I do for my community is helping us stay strongly united against many problems that come against us as a whole.