1st Place Winner - Keturah Nix

"How I Plan to help the world by being a Future Black Leader"

The dream for our country from our founding fathers such as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson was that every man should have the right to "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."1 The dream for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and many others was for blacks to experience these rights freely. Taking into account both dreams and incorporating my own, I find that as a leader it is important for me not to just say that I will do my best to see these dreams carried out but believe in my heart that these dreams are attainable. In order to achieve this, first, I will emphasize the importance of education, hard work, self-respect, and faith by reflecting it in my own life so that I can serve as a positive role model in my community. Second, I plan to encourage the younger generation to stay in school, to be non-violent, and to remain drug-free. I especially plan to emphasize these points within the black community since this is where our future black leaders are raised and taught. My message would be an alternative to the current, catch phrases and lyrics from popular hip-hop music and videos that are usually based on money, clothes, cars, sex, and violence - images that have negative effects on growing minds.

Our country has come a long way from the public displays of discrimination and outward forms of oppression; however, there are new forms of oppression and slavery that make it unfeasible for people to become free to fulfill their dreams and realize their full potential. The same negative effects that violence, drugs, and crime have on younger minds have the same negative effects on the minds and lives of adults. According to various surveys, the increase in homicides due to gun possession is rising among African-American men. In addition, federal and state penitentiaries have become a gathering place for many of these black boys and men. Johnnie Cochran stated, "It frightens me that our young black men have a better chance of going to jail than of going to college."2 Moreover, a rising problem among our young black women is the idea that being involved in different relationships, wearing revealing clothing, and having illegitimate children is a sense of accomplishment. All of these situations are contributing to the latest forms of slavery and oppression.

Third, my role as a future black leader is to be the best that I can possibly be to get others involved in the new struggle for freedom. Many people have died for the right of freedom, for the right of citizenship, and for the right to vote. Freedom is America's most precious heritage, and I will work diligently to make sure that this heritage is protected and preserved for all people.

While working in my community now as a youth leader, I listen to my peers and their dilemmas regarding school, home, and relationships, and I try to give them encouragement and advice to the best of my knowledge while being led by the inspirational voice of God As a youth today, it is difficult to not fall victim to the many temptations in the world. It is especially hard to maintain character, integrity, and morality. However, I believe that with God all things are possible. Therefore, as a future black leader I will encourage Americans to accept the challenges of the future by maintaining faith in our country, faith in each other, and faith in God.

1 Morris, Richard B. "The Declaration of Independence." The World Book Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. Chicago: Scott Fetzer Company, 1987.76-8.
2 Newman, Richard, compo African American Quotations. Oryx Press: New York, 2000.