Olivet College
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This first-place essay was written by junior Ramal Wilson for the MLK Oratorical Contest. Ramal is from Ypsilanti and is majoring in sociology and anthropology. In addition, he is a member of the Alpha Phi Kappa fraternity.

Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X and Rosa Parks are but a few people that are considered the faces of the civil rights movement. Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. But where are our leaders in 2018? Who holds steadfast to their morals and fights on the side of all things good and virtuous? Who can we look up to in this day and age, knowing that he/she is the embodiment of what social change is? What issues can we bring to the forefront of the conversion that will light a fire in someone’s soul to stand up and speak out against injustice?

Well, I found the answer to my question while washing my face. I see ourselves stuck in a loop of waiting for someone else to make a change, but never taking that first step. I had to realize that I was a part of that trend. I turned a blind eye to the things I could change in my life because I thought someone else would speak for me, but no one did. While looking into the mirror I thought back to a quote that says, “Open your eyes, look within yourself, are you satisfied with the world around you? If not, change it.” So I’m asking you now, can you look into your own eyes and lie? Are your comfortable knowing that someone somewhere is facing inequality, discrimination or prejudice? If not, change it. Say to yourself that you will stand up as strong as an oak tree and be the roots of reconstruction for our society.

We as a people have gotten lost in greed, power, lust, perversion and so forth. We’re living in the era were your genetic makeup defines how you are treated in this world. We’ve rekindled the cycle of the rich ruling our nation and the poor being treated as less then human. We have become complacent to the basic rights of a human being when they go to prison. We allow people in high places to destroy the works of those who fought to build global relations. No more can we allow our younger siblings and children to grow up ignorant of the troubles in this world. Who will be that change?

With that being said, no one in this world knows what goes on in your mind. Only you know what you’re thinking, and that’s one of the most beautiful things of being a human. What I’ve learned so far in this short 20 years of living is that somebody out in this world could be thinking the same thought, but they haven’t gotten to the point where they want to act on the change that they’re thinking about. You could be the voice that makes them want to speak out, and when one person speaks, then the next will and so on. It’s on us to be that rock in the pond that causes the ripple morality, incorruption, integrity and HOPE. Change of ANY KIND begins with you.

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