Carnegie Mellon University hosts its 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Writing Awards
The event features the winners of the contest, high school and college students from the region writing about "difference and diversity."
Issues addressed this year, according to a press release, include racial and sexual identity and "the current political climate."
The awards program was founded and is directed by Jim Daniels, a CMU English professor and acclaimed poet and fiction writer.
The first-place winner in the high school prose category is Emma Steckline, 15, a CAPA High School student who wrote an analysis of LGBTQ representation in the media.
“Last year I finally came to terms with the fact that I am gay, one of ‘those people,’" she writes. "‘Those people’ who every single day are reminded of our minority status. When we see our world powers we are looking in a misprinted ‘Where’s Waldo’ book except the stripes on Waldo’s shirt are rainbow colored and they forgot to print his picture on any of the pages. And there are different versions of the book: ‘Where’s Waldo Book Two: Can You Find Any Queer Singers?’ ‘Where’s Waldo Book Three: Can You Find Any Queer CEO’s?’ ‘Where’s Waldo Book Four: Can You Find Any Queer People in Government?’ The list goes on and on. America sits on copies upon copies of books with no representation for centuries, and I know it isn’t just us.”
Other winners included Marina Lopez, a CMU graduate student whose "Penance After DACA," a reaction to President Trump's repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, won first place for college poetry.
Winners receive cash prizes, have their pieces published in a booklet and will read their poems and essays at the awards ceremony.
The ceremony takes place at 4:30 p.m. Mon., Jan. 15, in CMU's Cohon University Center Rangos Ballroom. Campus music groups will also perform. The event is free and open to the public.