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Essay winner delivers message on justice

Kristen Darling Lake Villperforms with The Source youth dance group from Word Life Church Beach Park Dreamer's Breakfast Central Middle

Kristen Darling of Lake Villa performs with The Source youth dance group from the Word of Life Church of Beach Park at the Dreamer's Breakfast at Central Middle School in Zion. | Special to the News-Sun

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Updated: April 19, 2013 2:20AM

It was her essay on justice and words from Frederick Douglass that propelled eighth-grader Imani Bah to the top at the recent Dreamer’s Breakfast at Central Middle School in Zion.

The student stood tall upon accepting her prize — an iPad, courtesy of the Illinois Beach Sunrise Rotary Club.

Her essay began with part of Douglass’ famous 1886 speech: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

One hundred top eighth-grade essay writers at Central, who answered the question “What is Justice and How does it affect me?” and their parents enjoyed a southern breakfast cooked up by Soul 4 Real in Zion. Entertainment was provided by The Source youth dance group from Word of Life Church in Beach Park.

Many of these same students also took part in the very first essay contest in which they wrote about “kindness in the community.”

The essay-winner announcement in which Lake County States Attorney Mike Nerheim participated, was preceded by designating five individuals as Drum Major’s for Justice, a moniker given to those serving humanity, and named for one of the great speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. just two months before his assassination.

The Drum Major’s for Justice included Zion Elementary School Superintendent John Ahlgrim; modern day abolitionist, poet and artist Christopher “Brother” Blanks; attorneys LaTonya Burton and Torri Mark Newsome; and Beverly Mull, paraprofessional at Central Middle School.

Zion City Commissioner Shantal Taylor said the individuals appropriately fit the title as they are “an extraordinary help and hope to citizens of Zion.”

Taylor invited Tio Hardiman, director of CeaseFire, to talk to the students to help give them guidance and inspiration in a world where there is high drop-out rates from school, poverty, crime, premarital sex and drugs, she said.

The event was jointly sponsored by the Zion Grade School District and the Illinois Beach Sunrise Rotary Club, a supporter of literacy.

Taylor called the event, “exciting and heartwarming,” and said she is hopeful to continue the program annually.

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