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Date01 January 2021
Publication year2021
Vol. 46 No. 4 Pg. 30
Vermont Bar Journal
Winter, 2021

Fourth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School Poster-Essay Contest

The centerfold of this Vermont Bar Journal features thumbnails of the record number of submissions by middle school students for our 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. poster-essay contest. Our blog story about the successful virtual ceremony is reprinted below (ICYMI), as a companion piece to the winning posters, submission images and winning essay, all printed in this issue. What is clear from the volume of thoughtful submissions is that the chosen quote by Dr. King not only resonated with students, it also sparked some incredibly profound introspection among Vermont’s youth during these turbulent times.

The VBA, along with its Diversity Section and Young Lawyers Division, hosted the fourth annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School Poster-Essay Contest. Each year, a committee comprised of representatives from the VBA, the VBA Diversity Section and the VBA Young Lawyers Division, chooses a quote by the late Dr. King to inspire the students to participate in the contest. This year’s quote: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends” served as inspiration to over 70 students who submitted a record number of entries!

The committee had a daunting task as 2020 came to a close of having to choose the top 3 Poster-Essay combinations, based on criteria such as relevance to theme, spelling and grammar, content, quality of design and creativity. Given the quality (and quantity) of this year’s submission, this was no easy task! The contest winner, first runner-up and second runner-up are ordinarily invited to an in-person ceremony conducted by the Governor at the Statehouse and the Justices of the Supreme Court in the Vermont Supreme Court building. This year, however, the ceremony had to be conducted virtually due to the pandemic, but the students and families took it in stride.

VBA President Elizabeth Kruska kicked off the ceremony with introductions and a bit of history about the contest and the chosen quote. Next, Chief Justice Reiber continued the opening ceremony with some remarks about the importance of celebrating the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday every year and how his message resonates today. Vermont Superior Court Judge Nancy Waples, who was the first chair of the VBA Diversity Section when the MLK, Jr. Poster-Essay Contest was established, then expressed how impressed she was that all o f the submissions dealt with the subject of racial inequality with such insight, despite most not having experienced the discrimination that she and other people of color have experienced throughout their lives. Next to speak was Justice Beth Robinson, who had the honor of awarding the trophy to the contest winner. Justice Robinson emphasized how Dr. King’s words and life’s work are especially resonant during these tumultuous times and expressed hope that the students looked to have the qualities and power to “save us all” with their thoughtfulness and commitment to the values of Dr. King and their deep understanding that silence is complicity. And on to the winners…

William Cunningham and Elizabeth Cunningham from Edmunds Middle School won the contest with the first place traveling trophy for their...

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