Click HERE to watch the essay winners receive their awards.
As Black History Month draws to a close, Pathways Danbury Youth Ministries has selected the winners of its annual Black History Month Essay Contest. The topic for the 700-plus-word essay: “what Black History Month means to me.”
Ethan Hutchins, a 6th grade students who attends The Academy, was awarded the grand prize ($50), while Paris Ortiz-Torres, a freshman at Danbury High School who is a mentee through Naomi, earned second prize ($25).
In his essay, Ethan recounted the life stories of his grandpa, granny and dad, as they grew up, respectively, in the south, in Belize, and in New York City. In each of their stories, Ethan shared how they overcame racism and stereotyping to reach their dreams.
“In the dictionary, the word ‘opportunity’ means ‘a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something,’” Ethan wrote. “When I think about Black History Month, I think of opportunity and the circumstances that have made it possible for me to have a chance at success.”
He said it was “frustrating to hear these sad stories,” but he said, ultimately, “I am glad they happened for two reasons. The first reason is that I now have people who can bless me with wisdom to overcome my own challenges. I am also glad that it has happened because it makes me want to prove to everyone that I can succeed too. The stories of my family and black history inspire me to continue to be the best I can be.”
In her essay, Paris said “Black history month is the time of year where the black community comes together and celebrate, appreciate and honor what their ancestors did to change the way how blacks are viewed in society today. Black history month is about courage, perseverance and vision. Everyone and anyone should be thankful for their ancestors…”
Clara Perkins, who oversees PDYM’s after-school program, said that 10 students entered the contest. She said that one entry, although it was not a winner, demonstrated the wonderful growth of a young student who, when he first came to the after-school center, had a less than favorable view of blacks. But now that boy, she said, having spent time with black students, has had a change of perspective. Black History Month, she said, provides a valuable opportunity to have those kinds of discussions, she said.