• Black History Contest Winners

    In recognition of Black History Month, Cedar Street Times’ Black History Essay Contest challenged Pacific Grove High School students to write about some lesser-known figures in Black history.

    The essays from these young journalists are both educational and fascinating. Look for their photos in next week’s issue at cedarstreettimes.com this Friday 3-5-2021.

    Sophomore Chloe Coe’s First-Prize essay, “An Investment in the Human Soul”, was about Mary Jane McLeod, daughter of a former slave whose family after emancipation had to work the very plantation where they’d been enslaved until they saved enough money to leave. Then she endured a failed marriage; but went on to start a literary and industrial school for Black girls, started a clinic which grew into a hospital, founded or co-founded organizations for Black women and a Black college fund. She said “Believe in yourself, learn, and never stop wanting to build a better world.”

    Freshman Maryam Baryal’s Second-Prize essay “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is a tragic story about a Black woman who died from cancer, but who in a real sense lives on today, in that her cells taken for a biopsy were found to be immortal—the holy grail of cancer research—a human cell line that can reproduce forever. It is no exaggeration to say that her life has saved millions of lives worldwide, although she never knew of her contribution to medical science.

    Sophomore William Coen’s Third-Prize essay, “Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor”, is set in the 1890s. It tells the story about the only Black man to become a world cycling champion in a sport dominated by White men—and prejudice. He retired at 32 years old and lived in poverty for most of his life. However, he is remembered by his quote: “Life is too short for a man to hold bitterness in his heart.”

    Although we had only three prizes, some other essays were worthy of honorable mention, and we will publish them in a future issue of Cedar Street Times. We also regret that a few essays did not meet our deadline for submission due to the online system of the high school being unable to email us directly. This was an unexpected problem we will warn against the next time we conduct an essay contest.

    We thank all students who participated in the contest. I certainly learned something new about Black history and I hope you all did as well. We’d love to get your feedback on the contest, so please email us or write a letter to the editor at editor@cedarstreettimes.com.

    Gary Baley

    posted to Cedar Street Times on March 2, 2021

    Topics: Uncategorized

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