OPRF freshman wins MLK essay contest

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Oak Park and River Forest freshman Morgan Varnado wrote the winning essay for OPRF's annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Assembly— just the "second time in recent memory, and the second year running," a freshman has accomplished the feat, according to a district statement.

"Morgan's essay, about a Stevie Wonder song entitled "Black Man" from the artist's 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life, was supposed to describe a song that he felt celebrated diversity. 

"First man to die / For the flag we now hold high [Crispus Attucks] / Was a black man," notes the song's first verse. "The ground where we stand / With the flag held in our hand / Was first the red man's."

The song repeats several stanzas in that vein ("Incandescent light / Was invented to give sight [Thomas Edison] / By the white man") before the refrain, "This world was made for all men." 

In his winning essay, Morgan highlighted the song's emphasis on the lack of equity in the country and the absence of minorities in history books. The freshman will present his essay at two school assemblies on Friday, Jan. 15.

The essay contest has been sponsored, in part, by the Oak Park Regional Housing Center (OPRHC) for five consecutive years. The OPRHC funds the annual prizes, which include $200 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place. Sophomore Grace Johnson and Sydney Jackson were second and third place, respectively.

— Michael Romain

Email: michael@oakpark.com

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