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Winning with words


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A special highlight of the 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Multicultural Celebration this year is the $27,000 in scholarships handed out to more than two dozen high school students from around New Mexico.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Multicultural Council has selected 27 seniors representing 24 high schools to receive a $1,000 scholarship to continue their education. They were chosen from several hundred applications from students who submitted 500-word essays expressing their understanding of civil rights, diversity and community pride.

A sampling from winning essays included:

– “Dr. King has given me the courage to stand up and show the world that life is a gift, and should be treated as such.”

– “I have had many struggles in my life, but because of Dr. King’s teachings I know it’s up to me to overcome them, no matter how hard.”

– “When you hear Dr. King’s name, you automatically think a leader, activist, heroic, smart and inspirational.”

– “One of the best ways to make yourself heard and taken seriously is to be peaceful and show, or tell, your dissent to an issue.”

– “Great things can happen in the name of equality when people from different cultures can come together peacefully and see past stereotypes.”

Scholarship sponsors include: Bank of America; Ethicon Endo-Surgery; In Honor of Anis Johnson; In Memory of Christopher M. Torres; In Memory of Milton S. Hall; In Memory of Tony Pakinkis; Kruger, Mitchell, Olsen and Richardson; Modrall Sperling Roehl Harris & Sisk P.A.; NM Council of Teachers of English; NM MLK JR. State Commission; PNM; Rio Rancho Community Foundation; Second Presbyterian Church; Smith’s Food & Drug Stores: UNM Division for Equity and Inclusion; Wayne A. Johnson, Bernalillo County Commissioners; and Wells Fargo.

The scheduled guest speaker at Monday’s celebration at Congregation Albert was Professor Alfred Dennis Mathewson, the Henry Weihofen Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law, delivering excerpts from “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”

Mathewson 25 years ago provided legal guidance and assistance as the Council first began awarding scholarships. In 1991, five high school seniors received scholarships and that number has continued to grow in terms of number of students, geographic area and number of schools represented.

Applications for next year’s essay contest are expected to be posted online in April at