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Our Opinion: Essay contest provides a platform for the youth

On Tuesday morning, Hormel Food Corporation North hosted the winners of the ninth annual Hormel Foods MLK essay contest.

Organized by the Hormel African American Resources Group (HAARG), this contest encourages students from 20 schools from across the nation where Hormel has a presence. This wide scope of entries included more than 1,000 submissions.

The three winners this year included Nailah Beachem of Atlanta, Georgia, Sinan Sarihan Zafer Elvin of Atlanta and Ashlyn Rose Bryant of Little Rock, Arkansas.

The winners read their essays, with each submission conveying the optimism of Dr. Martin Luther King’s message and vision of unity. They conveyed an amazing clarity of the social issues of yesterday and today, while at the same time setting the stage for optimism of tomorrow.

These were visions seen through the eyes of the hopeful and the thankful and we can do nothing but commend these three winners for their voices and the way they related them.

In a world filled with uncertainty, it will be the youth we will need to look to effect conscious and positive change. Beachem, Elvin and Bryant provided the hope that when we level this work on the young, they will be able to take it up and press forward with the change needed.

We also want to commend HAARG and Hormel Foods for providing this platform for youth to share their voice and their vision for the future. Without this platform and other platforms like it, we will lose out on the possibility of hearing new ideas. At this point in time we can’t afford to let go of the fresh ideas from those that will one day inherit our issues.

Effective change will begin with innovative ideas and being able to realize King’s own vision is one part of that. He preached one people and one country, to overcome our differences and instead celebrate them in communities undivided by something so natural as skin color.

We hope the ideas shared by those taking part in the essay contest will take strong root from the seeds planted Wednesday morning and that we won’t be afraid to include children in the planning of our future.

Congratulations to all three of the winners announced Wednesday and thank you for having the strength to share your convictions.