Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - Updated: 3:31 pm
Bitter cold temperatures did not stop the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration Jan. 20 at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.
One of the highlights is announcing the winning student essays and posters at the event, sponsored by the Race and Reconciliation Dialogue Group. The group is a faith-based organization dedicated to combating racism in the church and society. Its members are comprised of cathedral parishioners as well as those from St. Benedict the Moor and St. Charles Lwanga parishes.
Student contestants include those in elementary and middle-school grades.
This year’s essay winners included: Rocco Bristow, sixth grade, St. Maria Goretti School; Alexa Glinski, seventh grade, Northside Catholic Assumption Academy; and Marcus Jones, eighth grade, St. Maria Goretti. Poster winners included: Nahblia Dinga, fourth grade, St. Maria Goretti; Peter Ducruet, fifth grade, East Catholic School; and Johanna Pickell, third grade, St. Maria Goretti.
Students were asked to address the slain civil rights leader’s message of equality and racial harmony in American society.
Glinski wrote in her essay, titled “Martin Luther King Jr.: The Struggle Continues”:
“Dr. Martin Luther King was very brave. He fought for an end to racism by doing peaceful protests. He didn’t want anyone to get hurt, but he wanted to prove a point. ... He died for what he believed in.”
“Every protest was a life or death situation. He always had to watch his back. He knew his job was dangerous, but he felt that something had to be done. He wanted his kids to have a better childhood than him, with no racism,” Glinski wrote.
Jones’ essay was titled “America’s Continuous Dilema.”
He wrote: “Racism still exists to this current day and may even continue to flow through people’s veins until the pure of heart can cure them. ... Even though he was imprisoned for his actions that didn’t stop him from fighting for what was right. He single-handedly got many other people to fight against the corrupted laws. In the end, he did make a change. He got rid of those laws and gave future generations the life that he never got to experience.”
Bristow’s essay was also titled “The Struggle Continues.”
He wrote: “Our school is pretty diverse. But about 40 years ago, everyone was Italian. I am Italian and a lot of my family is. They were also made fun of because of the country they came from. Racism is still around and our generation needs to be the one to put it down.”
“He (King) wanted to see blacks and whites and all of the other races holding hands and playing with each other. But he wasn’t going to do this violently, he was going to do this verbally,” Bristow wrote.
Dr. Mary McKinney, contest chairwoman, presented awards, and Ronald Saunders was master of ceremonies. Both are longtime members of the dialogue group.
Prior to the program in the cathedral’s basement, a Mass was offered by Father Kris Stubna, cathedral pastor and rector, and Father David Taylor, senior parochial vicar of the East End parish grouping consisting of St. Bede, St. Charles Lwanga and St. James, known as the Catholic Community of the East End. Father Taylor is the sole African-American priest serving the Diocese of Pittsburgh.