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2016-17 MLK Essay/Poetry/Spoken Word Winners


1st Place Middle School

Kassandra Munguia
8th Grade
Poplar Grove Middle School

As I hear about the marching and the speeches,
I put myself in their shoes, and suddenly, I’m a part of it all.
I’m next to Rosa Parks as she’s arrested for not giving up her seat.
I’m walking in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, protesting to end segregation on the bus.
I’m in the front row of Martin Luther King’s ‘​I hav​e a Dream’ Speech.
I was lost in it all, and that’s when I understood what he stood for.
They thought the idea of justice and democracy for all was achieved,
But how can that be if you’re judged based on the color of your skin or your race?
With the peaceful marches and empowering speeches, he was our voice,
He was the one who led us to our rights and freedoms.
He was the one who showed that segregation was unconstitutional.
He was the one who was shot by a man who didn’t believe in justice and democracy for all. He was the one who died for equality for everyone, not just African-Americans.
He was the one who finished the race.
He was Martin Luther King Jr.


1st Place High School

Mia Webb
11th Grade
MLK Magnet High School

The most frustrating thing about being a 17 year old in America is the amount of helplessness I feel. Not being able to voice my opinion through voting makes it tough to be heard by the leaders of our country, and there seems to be nothing I can do as a teenager to help fight injustices in my community. After discussing this topic with some of my role models, I have compiled a list of actions that I can take to promote equality and love in Nashville. By purchasing The Contributor for just $1, I can become more informed about the homeless population in Nashville and help provide support to people who may not have other means of making money. Through volunteer work with The Campus for Human Development, I can provide meals for those who visit the Luke 14:12 Soup Kitchen. NOAH (Nashville Organized for Action and Hope) is a program whose main focuses are affordable housing, economic equality, and criminal justice. If I contribute to these causes and participate in events orchestrated by this foundation, I will become more informed about the injustices that my city needs to remedy. While these organizations all encompass the diversity Nashville needs to reach in the coming years, the easiest way for me to help create a sense of tolerance throughout my city is to stand up for what I believe. Simply defending the rights of minorities in social settings can help promote change and foster greater diversity in the world.


1st Place Spoken Word

Griffin Klein and Alan Lui
11th Grade
Ravenwood High School

Change is not achieved by standing still, change is not achieved by relying on an oppressor’s goodwill.
Change can only be achieved when we work together, when we put aside our differences and learn to love one another.
Progress is not something achieved effortlessly, progress is not something achieved thoughtlessly.
Progress is something ceaselessly sought after, achieved through a continuous fight wherever and whenever.
It is only through the continuation of a tireless war that change and progress can be achieved.
But let that war be not violent but vocal, spoken not silent, with words not weapons.
At a time where we celebrate and show appreciation for the work and actions of a revolutionary, we must also remember that the best way to uphold the legacy of this visionary, is to do as he would have done, to fight for what is right.
The past generation is gone but has left us a nation reborn and their dreams and hopes and wishes shall live on, but only if the current and future of this nation does not surrender itself.
On this day, let us thank this hero and all those in our past.
And let us continue to work to ensure that their legacies endure and last.