|The image of a rainbow under construction formed the centerpiece of Kathryn T.’s poster, winning second place in the elementary poster competition.|
We ask you to trust and obey,
But with brotherhood and sisterhood this is the future way.
We work together as a team of one mind,
So put away any differences you may find.
We don’t have to hold hands with one another,
But act like a family, like a sister or a brother.
We have our laws and equal rights,
With informative dignity we can see the light.
By Andrew M., Middleborough Elementary School
Using pens, keyboards, paint, paper, and glue, students participating in the annual Brotherhood/Sisterhood Competition expressed their thoughts about how “all dreams are possible if we work as brothers and sisters.”
|Brandon S. of Perry Hall Elementary celebrated unity with images of faces around the globe and won first place in the elementary poster competition.|
This competition begins each year during February’s Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week. During this week, citizens are asked to remember to treat others with dignity and respect regardless of racial, ethnic, and religious differences. Baltimore County Public Schools and its Minority Achievement Advisory Group join The National Conference of Community and Justice in this nationwide celebration.
As part of Baltimore County’s celebration, students are challenged to participate in poster, poetry, and essay contests ending later in the spring. All entrants receive a certificate of merit. First, second, and third place winners at elementary, middle, and high school levels receive plaques and are honored at a Board of Education Recognition Ceremony.
|Winning second place in the high school poster competition was this design by Edidiong U. of Towson High School.|
Following is an excerpt of the first place high school essay by Jenna B. of Towson High School:
When I switched high schools at the beginning of sophomore year, I began the slow composition of the amoeba that makes up my group of friends – an amorphous blob of humanity, ever shifting and changing, splitting and replicating. Our resume is impressive, collectively – we are sports stars, artists, writers, musicians, stellar students, and so on. We are of many different ages, races, religions, political affiliations; we all have different hobbies and friends outside of the amoeba, who are conveniently sucked in from time to time. What we have in common is a goal.
Each and every one of us, in our own way and often together, is fighting for social justice. It’s a vague term, but it’s a term that I, and the people that I am privileged to work with, have devoted much of our time to, and plan to devote the rest of our lives to. Philosopher John Rawls proposed in the 1971 work A Theory of Justice that “Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others.”
|Winners of the 2006 Brotherhood/Sisterhood Contest|
In the name of this idea, we have taken up causes such as prisoners’ rights, working with groups like Amnesty International against the death penalty and worldwide human rights abuses, fighting for a living wage with the United Workers Association, volunteering and lobbying for homeless rights with the Student Sharing Coalition, and on and on. We have marched against the war in Iraq and for World Bank and IMF reform. We have volunteered on community supported agriculture farms and worked to raise awareness regarding the genocide in Sudan and gay rights, especially in countries like Iran, where being gay warrants the death penalty.
I have learned two overwhelming lessons from my involvement with these incredibly important, interconnected movements. First of all, fighting for social justice, for freedom and rights for all human beings, is not idealism. It is the natural course of action, for me, upon witnessing injustice. Second of all, the countless efforts of men and women working to make the world a better place would not have any effect if all of those people and movements were struggling on their own. It is the cooperation of efforts that is slowly wearing down injustice, like waves wear down stones on a beach. If Martin Luther King Jr. had marched on Washington in 1963 all by himself, if only Rosa Parks had refused to move to the back of the bus, it is most likely that segregation would still be in place in this country. It was the work of the masses, the thousands of people working together as brothers and sisters, fighting for justice, who ended the era of Jim Crow and brought King’s dream into reality. Likewise, it is [an] amoeba of friends and strangers all pushing for the same positive changes that will, in time, bring about a better America and a better world.
Story by Diana Spencer, communications officer. Photos of student artwork courtesy of the Office of Equity and Assurance.