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Junior wins MLK essay contest!
Congratulations to GMU junior Emma Peck, whose entry in the “Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest” placed first among high school students!
Emma Peck (1/2024)
"We had a number of great entries but felt that this submission particularly captured the spirit and legacy of Dr. King,” said Chelsea McCracken, Faculty Associate for SUNY Oneonta’s Office for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, which sponsored the essay contest for area elementary, middle and high school students.

Emma’s essay, which is below, focused on her community and how it displays the ideals of Dr. King. She will be honored with other essay award-winners during a breakfast and ceremony from 8-10 a.m. Monday, January 29, at SUNY Oneonta’s Center for Racial Justice and Inclusive Excellence in Lee Hall.

Dr. Jelani Cobb, an American writer, author, educator, and dean of the Columbia Journalism School, will be the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony, which is open to the public. Advanced registration is required to attend. The registration form is online at

Imagine a World
By Emma-Alexis Peck
Imagine a world in which the news was filled with stories of greatness, compassion, and kindness toward all people; one in which there were pictures of smiling faces and hands of all colors, shapes, and sizes reaching for one another in gestures of love and peace.

Nonviolence can be defined as using peaceful means, rather than force, which was one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s core beliefs. King believed in loving thy neighbor as we love ourselves. Despite differences in race, religion, or political affiliations, it is possible to look beyond the conflict, doubt, and fear to better understand one another. For a community to work well together through good times and challenges, it must first be able to do so with peace, love, and selflessness.

Change is often a hard obstacle for some, especially if it involves new challenges or ways of doing or thinking about things. Accepting others' thoughts and ideas can be difficult and uncomfortable. Like many small villages, towns, and hamlets that exist in upstate New York – as well as in various other parts of the country – Gilbertsville is susceptible to this hurdle but faces it with remarkable grace and fortitude. For example, the merger of school districts with neighboring towns in order to create better opportunities for students of both towns was not seen by all as a positive step forward. Long-standing family-owned-and-operated businesses faced their demise as larger corporations emerged in close proximity. These circumstances could have paved paths of bitterness and animosity, but they did not. People joined together instead to form friendship bonds and lend a hand as needed.

Fear, a powerful emotion common to everyone, can often mask itself as discrimination, hatred, and selfishness, but the human need for togetherness and belonging is just as powerful and can outweigh the negative effects that often accompany fear. It is uplifting when people adapt and evolve to stay united, to hold together that which really matters; community!

Community carries a sort of bonding feeling with the very utterance of the word. It can be seen every day in most villages if you look for it, but Gilbertsville exudes the feeling without having to look too hard. It is a place that strives to be inclusive through annual welcome dinners for new residents, holiday get-togethers for all ages, and picnics in the park for which all are encouraged and invited to attend. Free, outdoor concerts with different genres of music each week celebrate diversity and present opportunities for cultural exposure.

Gilbertsville has had its share of losses but has shown time and time again its compassion for neighbors, friends, and strangers in times of need. Even when the enemy is Mother Nature, Gilbertsville’s citizens unite to help, to serve, and to care, often putting aside or delaying their own needs to do so. It is widespread to observe people helping others over themselves almost daily.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideals show up in my community in a multitude of ways. People strive to live with the very morals that were so prominent throughout his life. Imagine a wonderful world where all people live together in harmony.

Posted 1/23/2024 ... Updated 2/1/2024