Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be celebrated throughout the country this extended weekend. There will be parades, picnics, banquets, churches services and, of course, you’ll hear young and old recite Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech from memory.

The Galveston community will also hold similar celebrations acknowledging the civil rights activist’s birthday. He is known for the leadership in his nonviolent method, in the advancement in civil rights in the United States and the world.

I feel privileged and am proud to be a member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Writing Contest committee. Now in its 12th year, the contest encourages Galveston high school students to respond to a theme and share their thoughts as they relate to Dr. King’s dream. The 2013 theme is, “What Would Be Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream Today?”

Based on this year’s theme, student responses vary:

“He would stand in front of many people, say things that so desperately need to be heard. Martin Luther King would give women the strength and the confidence to stand up for themselves.”

“This last political election was a great representation of lack of unity in the nation, complete with great conspiracy, nervous lies and unlawfully restricted voting, otherwise known as bullying for grown-ups. This is a problem Dr. King would fiercely and gently dream and act for an end to.”

“Today, as we embark on expensive wars fought on credit notes, unjust killings of innocent Americans, indiscriminate teenage parenting and disproportionate wage earnings, we are providing Dr. King with ideas to dream about in order to combat the challenges to make us climb to the mountaintop.”

The idea to showcase our talented students in a Martin Luther King essay contest was initiated by Elise Stephens, chair of the Galveston Historical Foundation’s Education Committee, and Maggie Williams, a member of the committee. At the time, Maggie also chaired the Galveston Historical Foundation’s African-American Heritage Committee and served as chair of the Old Central Cultural Center Program Committee. Over the years, the program has continued to be an event presented by the Old Central Cultural Center and the Galveston Historical Foundation.

We send special thanks to those who encouraged students to take on this extra assignment: Carol Freeman, Galveston Boys and Girls Club; Christine Badger, O’Connell High School; June Pulliam, Pulliam Academy; and Michael Merriette and Edmund Hendon, Ball High School.

Join us at 3 p.m. Sunday to meet and hear the contest winners at Old Central Cultural, 2627 Ave. M., Galveston.

Guest column

Tommie D. Boudreaux is a member of the Old Central Cultural Center Board and Galveston Historical Foundation’s African-American Heritage Committee.

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