The first place winner in the Middle School Essay Contest division is Reese Proctor. He is a 7th grader at Sierra Madre School, where Ms. Nepf is his English teacher. We would like to thank Principal Mr. Newsom for encouraging his students and staff to participate this year in the contest.Below is Reese Proctor’s essay, reprinted by permission.
How a Dream Can Shape America Today and Tomorrow
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dreams in a speech on August 28th, 1963 and today those dreams have shaped America in many ways. First, he has influenced our country by pointing out how important and crucial it is to have free education for all children. Second, while there have been many improvements, our country continues to fight the existence of racism today. If we solve this problem, Americans will be one step closer to fulfilling Dr. King’s dream. Lastly, I believe that our nation’s future is affected by how our leaders live up to Dr. King’s cry for “dignity and discipline.” All three of these points will continue to change shape in the future.
In  Dr. King gave a speech about how important it is for everyone, black and white, to have an education. The more educated Americans are, the better our future will be. Now all races can go to school together without segregation. In order to keep Dr. King’s dream alive, we need to pay our teachers more money and give them more incentives for their work. Dr. King described education as the civil rights issue of our time.
I think Dr. King would be surprised at how much more needs to be done to improve how we treat people of different races. His dream has encouraged many to treat others more fairly, but today Americans are still working on improving our community relationships. The problem is not just how our country treats African-Americans, but also how we behave toward Asians, Hispanics, people of different religious beliefs, and even people of mixed races, like myself. I believe that in order to stop racism, we need to have more community events and programs that put different people of different races together. For example, I play on a football team that has Asians, African-Americans, Hispanics and Caucasians. I’ve gotten to really know and have become good friends with my teammates. If I were not on this football team, then I probably wouldn’t have ever known them. I believe that the more time you spend around people from other races, the more you learn to judge them not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, just like Dr. King dreamed.
I believe that our future is in good hands as long as we keep moving forward and remember Dr. King’s dream. One way that Dr. King can influence our future is when our present day leaders remember him and how he fought peacefully without fear. When our government leaders make decisions they need to remember that they are making them for the people, not for themselves or for power. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The most dangerous criminal may be man gifted with reason, but with no morals.” I think that’s why it’s so important for our leaders to be honest. Dr. King’s dream may also affect the future by making us and our leaders be more aware of education not just in America, but also in other countries such as Sudan and Nepal who don’t have free education. Education is so important because a nation without public or free education, results in a bad economy and a higher rate of illiteracy.
Education, equal treatment and the need for moral character all intertwine to keep Dr. King’s dream living into the future. A good education needs to be shared by all races, equal treatment only comes with honest leaders and great leadership only comes with strong education. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
Even today we must truly appreciate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for all his struggles and sacrifices. It’s one thing to remember all he did in order to make the world a better place, but it’s even more important to fulfill Dr. King’s dream with action. Action today will not only change, but also improve, our tomorrow. ♦ Reese Proctor
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