Congrats to Ruchama LaFontant, 2017 MLK Essay Competition 1st-place winner: Read her essay


C.B. Hanif

‘DEFEND THE DREAM UNITED’: The Hurricanes’ Ruchama LaFontant, a senior in the Medical Academy, took the first-place trophy for her essay addressing this year’s theme sponsored by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Coordinating Committee, led by Executive Director Edith C. Bush. Once again the organization recognized exemplary students in many competition categories. Other Cane winners were Victoria Lawrence, 2nd-place Oratory; Starlia Dormeus, 2nd place and Honorable Mention in Photography; and Rachelle Rene, Honorable Mention, Essay. Read Lafontant’s award-winning essay below.

“Defend the dream united; promote non-violence, social justice and positive behavior”


“Love is the only force capable to transforming an enemy into a friend.” 

 Martin Luther King Jr.


People are quick to protest against police brutality but won’t even give a second thought to problems within their community; quick to blame community problems on the police when change can start in our own homes. The first step is pointing out the problems within our community so that we can truly defend the dream and promote non-violence, social justice and positive behavior.


Bullying is one of the ongoing problems in our community and it is due to neglect. Kids who bully tend to have other problems when they get older like getting into fights, dropping out of school and using drugs and alcohol. How can we expect positive behavior if we’re not doing anything to promote it?


“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”


Some victims of bullying try waiting for it to stop, but patience slowly begins to become acceptance. Statistics show that approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying. They try to save themselves from the fear and humiliation that they face on a daily basis. How are they supposed to feel like they’re worth something when their own community turns a blind eye?


Witnesses of bullying, mainly peers, may not know how to react to the incident – whether to keep silent, tell an adult, or to stand up to the bully themselves. Some witnesses fear that if they interfere with the situation they will be targeted next, so they join into the bullying.


We need to work together in our communities to help not only the victims but the culprits themselves to find out why they act in such negative ways, before they end up as criminals, in a jail cell with no future, no hope and no solution.


“Be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.”


People sometimes put bullying in place of their social life, are not taught to think about how their actions affect other people, or simply get a lack of attention from friends and family. There are many ways to put a stop to bullying by taking action, knowing how to help, and setting a good example for others.


Social justice and positive behavior would soon follow if we just showed every individual at a young age positive attention. If we all were to love and respect one another as human beings we would be able to eliminate injustice, violence, and delinquency and defend the dream united.