By Christopher T. Matthews
Three college students were selected last Saturday, February 25, 2017, by the Black Lives Matter Organization held at the Frederick Douglass Community Center. Washington Muhammad explained, “We took a look at our community and we decided that we were going to take a different approach regarding social justice. So, we decided to approach our young college students, and challenge them to write an essay on what Black Lives Matter means to them. Over 30 student from BGSU, UT and UT’s Early College submitted essays and all of the essays were highly emotional, profession, and academically charged.”
Washington Muhammad, a member of Solidarity Response of Toledo, also the committee that selected the winners, continued saying, “It was the hardest job to decide which three students would the winners and recipient of 1st place prize of $1000.00 and 2nd place prize of $500.00 and a third place prize of $250.00, so we are here to acknowledge them today. We have an awesome volunteer staff of young people who are here to help make a difference in the community. I would like to thank a couple of our sponsors from Black Kite- to the Young Democrat Party, The Lucas County Green Party, The Toledo Journal and those not mentioned and/or who did not want to be Identified, we want you to know that we are supremely grateful.”
Alonia Lewis, first place recipient, of $1000.00 is a University of Toledo junior student is majoring in African American studies and women in gender, said, “I am grateful for the opportunity to be a recipient and I think the movement in itself and how the community has come together in solidarity not only in the black community but in the Islamic communities as well is very profound, I feel being here today and being honored by this particular organization means a lot to me. Because, they are very much about what they say they are about, so it means a lot to me that they chose my essay to be the #1 essay out of all the people who submitted essays.”
Justin Tapp, UT political science major, who was the second place recipient, receiving $500.00, was humble and grateful to be a recipient of the Black Lives Matter Scholarship. He never expected to be chosen. He feels as though there are so many more people, who would have known more than him, on the subject matter. Justin, said, “I don’t know that much about the Black Lives Matter movement, but it hit me when Travon Martin was murdered, and the movement, itself, took off at that point. And, I didn’t realize at that time, that it would be what it is today. We have come a long way since then and we have so much more to do, and all black lives matter.”
Toledo Early College High School senior student, Tierell McBeth, received the third place scholarship of $250.00. He feels the Black Lives Matter Movement is a powerful movement that has highlighted racial issues across the country. “It has helped us, as a people, to wake up to things that have been going for hundreds of years. So now that we are in this new age and we have technology, at our disposal, we are able to disseminate the information faster thus making it easier for other to become more aware of the social injustices that we face as a race,” he said.
David Ross, artist, mentor, and community advocate explained, “The Black Lives Matter College Scholarship Give-Aways are significant and extremely necessary. Because in society, where we fall short on academic funding for African Americans, this Scholarship opportunity is creating a way for the growth and development of young students soon to be professionals.”