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Senior Melainah Alford — Martin Luther King Jr. Scholars Essay Contest Submission

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Olivet College annually hosts the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholars Essay Contest. Students are invited to submit a 500-maximum-word essay under a theme relating to diversity, equity and inclusion and a value or quote from Martin Luther King Jr. This year, students were prompted with King’s quote, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” They were asked to consider the definitions of diversity, equity and inclusion and why these values be a shared responsibility on campus and beyond.  

Senior Melainah Alford, a business major with a concentration in marketing and a psychology minor, received third place with her essay submission. Melainah serves as president of the Nu Gamma Xi sorority, and she is a member of the Gospel Choir and the Women’s Leadership Institute.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote the following: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This quote represents the unity that we need to have with each other. Dr. King taught us that we need to work together to make the world better. Even though the quote directly references the mistreatment of African Americans, injustice affects us all. If people step up and say something is wrong, it can help make the world a better place. Conflict is not suitable for anyone. As people, we should work together to get through life because it makes things easier for everyone.

Dr. King was significantly ahead of his time because he wanted everyone to live in unity. So, in January and February, we celebrate the hard work that he did up until he died. Dr. King assembled many peaceful protests filled with people who were White and Black. He taught us the importance of working together and that although our skin color may differ, we are all human. Dr. King was an example for the Black Lives Matter movement and showed us that we can change the world without violence.

Our responsibility is to change the world and make it a better place. We have a choice to treat everyone equally or mistreat others because of the color of their skin. Unfortunately, some people choose to make a group of people feel like something is wrong with them because of the color of their skin. If we see something wrong, we should stop it. Why would it be different when someone treats a person like they are inferior because of their skin color?

Children are taught many things at a young age by their parents, including beliefs or how to swim. We are products of our parents, and this affects our view of the world around us. For example, it is our parents’ responsibility to raise us to look at everyone as an equal, but that doesn’t happen for some. The cycle of being taught that inequality is justified can keep going with each generation until someone speaks up.

In the past, there weren’t many people of color in power. To make change happen, you need the help of people in power. Change can’t happen without a lot of people behind you. Having connections with different people can help with the legal system or everyday life. When you speak up against things that aren’t right, it can cause positive change because it can teach other people to do the same. Before our time, Dr. King and many others showed us that change can happen; it starts with just one person.

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