The following essay submitted by Mykayla Fernandes, age 17, grade 12, won first place in the Stuttgart Community African-American/Black History Month Essay Contest, in which submitters were asked to describe how they feel the Civil Rights Movement has helped unify and strengthen the community.
“Strengthening Our Community Through Unity”
By Mykayla Fernandes
The Civil Rights Movement has helped unify and strengthen our community through diversity. Many have come to know and understand through history, that all civil rights activists were not only African American. We have been unified and strengthened through our acceptance and tolerance of each individual background and cultural differences. A community is only as strong as the people who live in them. With the right kind of thinking we may achieve the right kind of outcome suitable to all who come and live in our community. Strength, I feel, is through unified acceptance of one another’s neighbors. The Civil Rights Movement helped open the eyes of the world to the equality of people and through the unity of people, the civil rights help many to see that we are different in some areas but similar in many other areas.
Military families are a great example of social awareness and unity. We as a people, meaning military communities, have a broad and diverse group of people that work together daily. Whether at home, school or work, we see to it that each person in our community join together to help and assist one another whenever and wherever needed. My family recently came here from the states where I was in a magnet school. It definitely had its advantages academically but I was missing something. Once coming here to a totally different environment, living on a military base and going to a DoD school, I saw what I was missing, unity with diversity. I have been so excited about the different things going on in the community with each culture. We have the opportunity to learn more about one another, understand why certain things are done in each culture, and participate in some of the activities. This is a place to indulge in unity through diversity. It also shows the strength we have as a community with the willingness of all those involved willing to come together and share their native authenticity with others in their community.
Hardships have a way of bringing people together. No matter their background, occupation, or gender. When one shares a similar cause, those demographics no longer mean anything. What is important is that they work together to support a common cause – a cause that personally affects each of them, and therefore, creates an unbreakable bond. The Civil Rights Movement did just that. The fighting and chaos that was going on affected many people in many different ways from all ethnicities – not just African Americans – and brought them all closer together through the pain and suffering they had to endure. The Civil Rights Movement is one that we will never forget. We as a people welcome more Dr. Martin Luther King’s and Malcom X’s. If this is what it took to get us to come together and stay unified years later and for years to come, I feel, the Civil Rights Movement is a success that shall live on forever.