On Friday, January 27, in the City Hall council chamber, the Minneapolis City Council honored nine Minneapolis students who were chosen as winners of the 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest, sponsored each year by the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights and the Minneapolis Commission on Civil Rights.
Eight-grade winners are Conlan Olson (Anthony Middle School), Kulle Basha (Anne Sullivan School) and Virginia Rendler (Anthony Middle School).
Seventh-grade winners are Giselle Durand (Anthony Middle School), Emily Van Ryn (Anthony Middle School) and Fartun Hassan (Anne Sullivan School).
Sixth-grade winners are Shukri Isse (Learning for Leadership), Naimo Hussein (Learning for Leadership) and Saabiriin Mohamed (Learning for Leadership)
Read the first-place winners’ essays below:
The right of children and families to adequate food sources
By Conlan Olson
Anthony Middle School
Norman Borlaug, an American agronomist who was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for advancing farming productivity and thereby increasing the food supply in developing countries, once said, “…The first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind.”
Many people share his opinion that in a fair global society, every human should be provided with food if they cannot provide it for themselves. This especially applies to children in impoverished families.
If the parents of a child don’t earn enough money to sustain the family, many countries have systems that provide the struggling family with food. The guarantee to an adequate food source is an essential human right that we must work to protect.
In America, if a family is not getting the food they need, there are programs to help them. The child could be fed through free-and-reduced priced school lunches, the family could be given benefits by the government through the Food Stamps Program, or a local food shelf, which is often subsidized by the government, could provide food.
These programs are designed to lighten or eliminate the cost of buying food for a family who can show that they cannot afford their own food. These programs are especially applicable to children, who can get food from their school, or be provided food by another government system when their parents cannot sustain them.
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written by the United Nations, states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services…” This article says that all countries should provide, among other things, adequate food for people who need it.
However, some counties are unable or unwilling to do this effectively. In many extremely impoverished parts of the world, such as Pakistan, many children are malnourished, and the government either doesn’t provide food assistance programs, or the assistance programs are not effective enough to help all families.
Twenty four percent of the Pakistani population is malnourished. This lack of proper food is because the government in Pakistan cannot provide the support that is needed to overcome the poverty, limited resources, and rough geography that prevent people from getting enough food.
America differs from less developed countries because we have a highly developed country and a stable government that is able to provide enough support to successfully fight hunger in America. Other countries may not be able to provide as much help as America, even while their people need more support than Americans.
Another difference between developing countries and America is that many developing countries rely heavily upon international service organizations, such as UNICEF, as support for their hungry people, while America has programs within our own government. This self-sufficiency allows America to remain independent and allows the help that we give to be tailored to the specific need of Americans.
However, these less developed countries are similar to America because we all recognize the need for assistance programs, and are attempting to fight hunger. Hunger and malnutrition are worldwide problems that must be addressed. It is a right of all humans to have access to enough food to stay healthy and properly nourished.
Countries should provide support for people who either cannot afford food or do not have access to healthy food. However, many countries fail to provide enough support, because of factors such as limited government resources, excessively high hunger rates, or inaccessible regions.
To help countries around the world in giving their people the support they need, the U.S. and the United Nations should increase support for international, nonprofit organizations such as UNICEF, Feed My Starving Children, and Oxfam. These organizations help needy people around the world with getting enough food, and could become more effective if given more support.
Another way to help countries struggling with food supply would be to support agronomists, like Norman Borlaug, in working to increase the amount of food a farmer can produce.
Adequate food for all people is a “baseline” right in a healthy global society. The world cannot improve in other ways without hunger being dealt with first. Having access to nutritious food is a right of all humans, and we must work to uphold this right all over the world.
Human rights mean equal treatment for all
By Shukri Isse
Sixth-grade essay contest winner
Learning for Leadership
People sometimes don’t have human rights. Human rights are considered a law in the United States. Many places in the world are not as lucky as we are. I’m lucky that I have human rights.
I have a right to live, and to live in freedom and safety, as everyone should. Because I live in the United States, my rights are protected, but people who live in other places aren’t always so lucky.
In Minnesota I have the right to say what I want to say and think what I want to think. In some other places, people can be punished just for speaking out against their governments or thinking the wrong thing. Sharing their beliefs and ideas can be harmful and what they say can get them in trouble.
Someone who lives in a country where human rights aren’t enforced may have some great ideas that would help others, but if they feel threatened, they might not share what they think because they’re afraid of getting in trouble.
I’m so happy that I live in Minnesota, because people don’t judge me because of the color of my skin, where I am from, my ideas, or my religion. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, no one can judge you or discriminate against you for these things.
Human rights mean that every human is entitled to the same treatment no matter who they are or where they live. As a Minnesotan, I am protected by the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Bill of Rights. Now that I know more about my rights, I know I am lucky to live where I do.