Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Honored Through Annual Student Essay Contest

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Four students in the Archdiocese of Washington were recognized as essayists honoring the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the archdiocese’s annual concert and Mass in Dr. King’s honor on Saturday, Jan. 16.

This year’s concert and Mass was celebrated at St. Augustine Parish in Washington. Bishop Barry Knestout, auxiliary bishop of Washington, was the principal celebrant and homilist for the Mass, gathering Catholics of all backgrounds to commemorate both the memory of Dr. King and celebrate the rich history of black Catholics in the archdiocese.

Each year, students from archdiocesan schools are invited to enter an essay contest co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington’s Office of Cultural Diversity and Outreach. This year’s theme was, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase,” based on the words of Dr. King. At the Mass, the students who had the winning essays this year were called forward to be recognized and were presented with an award plaque by Bishop Knestout. The following students were recognized:

  • First Place: Katelyn Booth, Little Flower Catholic School – Great Mills
  • Second Place: Anastasia Micich, St. Raphael Catholic School – Rockville
  • Third Place: Simeon Oluremi, St. Augustine’s Catholic School – Washington D.C.
  • Fourth Place: Betelhem Merga, St. Augustine’s Catholic School – Washington D.C.

“Throughout Martin’s life, he tried to show the importance of solving the nation’s racial problems. He relied on his faith in the goodness of people to take the first step, not knowing the outcome and not seeing the whole staircase,” reflected eighth-grader Katelyn Booth in her essay. “He fought the struggle without violence. He wanted civil rights for everybody. He had the faith to keep going.”

The students recognized the hopefulness Dr. King resonated in the civil rights movement. Anastasia Micich, eighth-grade, wrote, “Dr. Martin Luther King Junior didn’t know how his famed ‘I have a Dream’ speech would be accepted. He couldn’t see the future. People had many choices concerning how to react to this influential speech. They could ignore it, criticize it, or accept it and be inspired to change society and the way people communicated with one another. Micich continued that Dr. King “couldn’t see the future, but only a hope, a dream that what he and others had been fighting for all their lives could one day happen.”

Eighth-grader Simeon Oluremi took Dr. King’s message, and reflected on its pertinence in his own faith life and relationship with God. He wrote, “I’m sure Dr. King’s ‘staircase’ analogy means a lot of things to a lot of different people. However, in my life I’ve been taught to trust God with my entire heart, and lean not onto my own understanding, and He would direct my path.”

The students were encouraged by Dr. King and the lesson his legacy continues to teach, even after his death. “Dr. King walked with God even when his faith was tested,” eighth-grader Betelhem Merga reflected. “He walked with God even when he did not see the bright light ahead. He walked with God against all odds and even in his death. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left a legacy that one can only hope to surpass. He showed us that fear should not keep us from living.”


The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

CONTACT Lindsey Frechou
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