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TODAY IS MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY!

Martin Luther King Day holds significance to the Indian American community in two ways-

1. Because as people of color, we know we enjoy the freedom that we do in America due to the mass movement that he led, winning civil rights for all.

2. Because it was our Mahatma Gandhi that inspired the King to use nonviolent civil disobedience means for the advancement of civil rights. 

So on the occasion, we bring you award winning essay and art by two Indian American kids from Texas schools.  (Photo Credit: Wiki Commons)

DIVERSITY: OUR BELOVED COMMUNITY
ESSAY BY RAASHI KULSRESTHA, ART BY RIA NUNA

(Artist: Ria Nuna. Ria Nuna is a 7th grader in a Texas Middle School. This art won her 1st place in the district in her grade level category ) 

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DIVERSITY: OUR BELOVED COMMUNITY
BY: RAASHI KULSHRESTHA
She is an impressionable young girl: curious about the ways of the world, ready to imbibe all the knowledge she is offered. She goes to school every day, where she engages in the same learning experiences as the white girl who sits behind her and the black boy who sits to her right, all contemplating the same whiteboard, quite possibly even musing similar thoughts. Yet, she is only a child, and therefore remains oblivious to the battles fought, the stands taken, and the impeccable displays of pure courage that got her where she is today and will get her where she will be tomorrow. These battles, these stands, and this courage, is largely credited to one man, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His vision and his charisma started a mass movement, a movement of introspection, awareness, and change.
The broad perspective of gradual change in civil rights can be compared to that of a pawn moving from start to finish in a (slightly convoluted) board game, in which the start and finish may not be clear. However, one thing is certain: what that finish line means. Simply put, the finish line is, as Martin Luther King Jr. put it, “The Beloved Community.” This “beloved community” was more than just a dream to King, but rather a very possible reality that had yet to take shape. In order for his vision to be impactful, however, it needed to follow certain ideals. These ideals included eliminating racism, poverty, and militarism, or as Dr. King defined them, “the triple evils.” He acknowledged the idea that conflict would still exist; however, another of the ideals would be handling these conflicts with reason, not violence, so that justice may always overpower war. In this beloved community, Martin Luther King foresaw people of all races, ethnicities, and genders getting the chance for equal input on this planet, and in return receiving equal output from the planet. He inspired and motivated large masses of people. Together they created a movement.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the civil rights movement from the mid-1950’s up till his death in 1968. Yet, his dream lived on, slowly evolving and taking a more concrete form over the years. Today, that pawn which represents change has moved miles towards the finish line on the civil rights board game. Dr. King induced a widespread tolerance of humans from all corners of the world. This acceptance sparked an invitation for people of all races to come, sit down at the same table, and work together in building our world, so that we may come closer to achieving our beloved community. Even though we have yet to reach the metaphorical finish line, today, diversity is what defines us. Thanks to Dr. King, little boys and girls of all skin colors are granted the opportunities to write their own fate. Thanks to Dr. King, that little girl, who is so impressionable, looks at everyone around her as her equals. It does not matter what the color of her skin is. As civil rights lawyer Thomas Perez once said, “Our workforce and our entire economy are strongest when we embrace diversity to its fullest, and that means opening doors of opportunity to everyone and recognizing that the American Dream excludes no one.”
(RAASHI KULSHRESTHA IS A 10TH GRADER AT A TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL. THIS ESSAY WON HER FIRST PLACE IN THE DISTRICT IN HER GRADE CATEGORY) 

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