Local teen wins Princeton MLK essay contest

Essay encourages Americans to use their right to vote.   See Related Story: MLK ESSAY by Christian Ginez

By: Audrey Levine
   It’s all in the family for two South Brunswick students who found success in a contest celebrating late civil rights activist the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
   South Brunswick High School senior Christian Ginez and his sister, Sophia, a Crossroads South eighth-grader, will both be honored at Princeton University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration for essays they wrote for an annual contest sponsored by the university.
   Christian will receive first prize for 11th- and 12th-graders, while his sister earns honorable mention among seventh- and eighth-graders.
   This year’s contest will mark Christian’s eighth award as well as his eighth time participating in the contest. He said he competed for the first time in fourth grade in the poster contest and, save for one year, has submitted work every year since.
   The contest, sponsored by the Princeton University Martin Luther King Jr. Day Committee, accepts posters from students in grades four through six and essays from those in the seventh through 12th grades.
   "History has always interested me," said Christian. "The first time was a class assignment, but I thought I was better at writing than drawing. Then, when I entered seventh grade, I was allowed to write."
   Christian said this year’s topic, "The Power of the Vote," was especially interesting to him because he has always been fascinated by politics.
   "I am interested in how the government works and the people’s consent to be governed," he said.
   Christian said he looks at Dr. King’s work in this manner, explaining that the civil rights leader struggled to change people’s lives.
   "His legacy touches on much more than African-Americans," he said. "It was improving the lives of the people and how that interacts with the government."
   Christian said he is pleased that his sister is also being honored.
   He said Sophia has been competing since fourth grade, receiving a prize each year.
   "We have a running competition," he said. "She saw how much success I had and now she tries to challenge me."
   The winners will be recognized on Jan. 16 during Princeton University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. The celebration will also feature speeches from Marvalene Hughes, president of Dillard University in New Orleans, and the Rev. Charles G. Adams from the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit.
   In addition, Christian said he will receive a $100 prize.
   "It’s an honor to have my writing chosen by Princeton, which has such high academic standards," he said.
   Christian, who will graduate in June, said he has applied to 12 colleges, including Princeton and Yale, where he plans to major in political science.
   "I want to go to an Ivy League school," he said. "Eventually, I also want to go to law school."
   In his award-winning essay, Christian said that those who do not vote are forced to live by the decisions of others. He also discussed Dr. King’s peaceful methods of convincing people of the importance of casting their vote.
   "Without a doubt, today Rev. King would offer hope and encouragement to those citizens who oppress themselves by neglecting to vote," he wrote. "Let us carry on the work of Dr. King by fighting oppression. Let us carry on the work of Dr. King by voting."