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This year, The USTA/Midwest Tennis & Education Foundation held its second annual Black History Month Essay Contest for our National Junior Tennis and Learning Chapters. Getting children really thinking about the importance of Black History Month and how it relates to them is vital! So we asked 3 questions for grades K-5 and 3 questions for grades 6-Up. Check out their awesome responses below!

Kindergarten - 5th Grade

Question:

At one time in our country, black and white people could not drink from the same water fountain, enter a building through the same door, sit next to each other in a movie or even go to the same school. It was called separate but equal. How would you feel if you could not use the same things as your friend or go places together?

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I would be very sad if I could not be friends with my bestfriend Marcy. We go to school together, eat lunch together and play at the playground together. I believe everyone should be kind. No one should dislike someone because of the color of their skin. I love everybody!

Alia O.

Age: 7

The Ace Project

I would feel very sad if I could not go to school with my friends or go to McDonald's together. I believe that we are all brothers and sisters. We should all be kind. I feel that black and white people love each other and get along today.

Mia O.

Age: 7

The Ace Project

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Not been able to use the same things as my friends or go to the same places together because of the color of my skin will make me feel not only sad but also angry at the people that have the systems put in place. 

Separate but equal is not only BAD; but also Unjust and as a society we should not be judged by our look or what we look like. This situation is not just unfair but EVIL. Thank you 

Adrian O.

Age: 9

Inner City Tennis Project

Question:

Do you think it is important to celebrate Black History Month? Why?

It is very Important to celebrate Black History month because of all the amazing things African Americans have done that I haven’t learned in school. I learned from my dad that a black man invented the super soaker water spray, and black women invented the first closed circuit tv for home security. A lot of cool things have been invented by people of color and it should be celebrated and admired by all Americans.

London C.

Age: 10

Inner City Tennis Project

Black History month should be celebrated because black kids need a row model to look up to so that nobody forgets the accomplishments of black people. 

Black History month should be celebrated because kids need row models to look up to so that they never forget the things that black people did. For example people like Barack Obama. If we didn't celebrate the things Barack Obama did we would forget everything he did and his hard work to even become president. That's why black history month should be celebrated because it informs the public the public about the amazing and wonderful things that black people have done. 

To conclude this essay black history month should e celebrated because it says to the public that black people matter too. 

Yomi A.

Age: 10

The Ace Project

I think black history month is important because it teaches us about black people’s achievements in history. Teaching people about black people’s achievements is important because it tells us their story of how they achieved success although they started out as slaves with no independence. it’s a time to reflect on famous black people that invented daily things and about black people who fought for justice for black people. It plays a part in telling us about African Americans helping build America and that is why I think black history month is important.

Chase M.

Age: 10

Opportunity Tennis Academy

I believe it is important to celebrate black history month because we’re a Minority group that has grown. We get to celebrate people of color that open doors for us to live completely free. It’s also a form of respect to are elders that sacrifice their life for are freedom. We as color should be proud to have a month just for us.

Mackenzie L.

Age: 10

Metro Detroit Youth Clubs

Question:

If you could have dinner with one famous African American in history, who would it be and what would you want to ask them?

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I would ask Martin Luther King JR. out to dinner because I would want to ask him if he ever gets tired of walking/marching. I would also ask him if he ever walks with a group of people or if he marches by himself. The reason I ask that is because if he were to walk be himself he would not have the protection he needs to protest. The last Question I would ask him is has he ever brought his grand kids out to protest with him stop segregation.

Tavian D.

Age: 10

Todd Martin Youth Leadership

If I could meet a famous person it would be LeBron James. He is the best basketball player ever. He is totally awesome. I would ask him to teach me how to play basketball like him. I would ask for an autograph too and a jersey. 

Semaj J.

Age: 7

The Ace Project

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I would like to have dinner with Martin Luther King Jr , if he was still alive. Why did you choose to stand up for others and would he do it all over again

Michael M. 

Age: 10

Metro Detroit Youth Clubs

6th Grade and Up

Question:

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Not everyone fights as hard as King did for change. He was arrested 29 times, threatened and tragically assassinated. Is there anything you would fight for as much as King did for Civil Rights Change?

There is not a doubt about Martin Luther King Jr being one of the most well-known civil rights activists. He is taught to kids around the world of all ages and all ethnicities. Practically everyone knows about his, “I have a dream” speech, but several people know who helped him along the way. The people who helped keep him up as a foundation to give African Americans like me an opportunity to succeed in the country of the free. This is to say we know famous people like Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and MLK but what about the hidden figures that did not reach our textbooks? What about those people like Bayard Rustin who helped Martin Luther King Jr . organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and taught him about Gandhi's aspects? I feel like we need to acknowledge the people who work in the background. There is no question of how hard he fought for our rights but unlike being well known as MLK, I want to help the secluded communities of society. 
To play tennis seriously, you need financial stability and dedication. With the help of the Inner City Tennis Project, kids from less fortunate families have the opportunity to find something that not just passes time but can help them out in the future. Seeing how much of an impact just one program can make, I want to fight for more diversity in the game of tennis.  
When I’m asked what sport I play, I get raised eyebrows and questions like “ Well you are tall, why don’t you play basketball?” or “ What club do you go to practice?”. I was not sure how to answer either of these questions, especially what club I go to. My family never had the money to pay for practice at clubs and that's one reason tennis needs to be revamped. I am just an African American playing a rich person sport. When it comes to communities inflicted by poverty, there are many basketball courts and players on them but not so much tennis. I want to change that stereotype.  
Martin Luther King Jr helped break through so many obstacles to pave equality for future generations. Although there are still many issues around the world. I feel like tennis can unite us together. He is one of the major activists, however, we need to educate ourselves with the people behind the scenes. . “It takes a whole village to raise a child”, so I would love to fight for equal opportunities to be successful with any financial background for the game of tennis like ICTP did for me.

Ibrahim K.

Age: 17

Inner City Tennis Project

I would stand up for equal rights for young ladies ability to dress the way they would like to dress and not be punished or ridiculed for their choices. It sometimes feel that society gives a pass to young men in fashion options, and shames young ladies if it is not considered to others as normal. Young ladies should feel free to express themselves without judgment.

Lauren C.

Age: 13

Inner City Tennis Project

What I would fight for more is helping homeless people. I would do this by making a program that takes homeless people and put them in big houses with other homeless people. They will get 6 months to get a job but before then will receive an income of 500 dollars every week. When they find a job they will still receive an income, but it will be less according to how much money they earn. After a while they should be earning more than 500 dollars a week and then I would start taking money from them so that they still only get 500 dollars a week. I'm only taking money from them because if I wasn't I would run out of money eventually. Once they have enough money to move out I would give them 1000 dollars because paying your own bills takes more money.

Joah D.

Age: 14

Tennis Opportunity Program

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Question:

Famous basketball player Michael Jordan once said “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”. What does that quote mean to you?

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This quote symbolizes to me that your mistakes are a stepping stone for you to succeed. Your mistakes are constantly guiding you towards the path of success. With each mistake you take step closer to what you are aiming for. For example, in my computer class, we were learning how to code an application. We would have to test out the different codes to try and make a functional application that also followed the requirements. At first, I couldn’t get my application to work as I couldn’t figure out the right codes for it to function. I had to keep trying different things. After trying various codes, I was able to get my application to work by keeping track of my mistakes and errors I had made and trying the things I hadn’t tried before. Keeping track of my mistakes allowed me to get closer to my goal by not having me continuously make the same choice. After many tries, I was able to make my application functionable by relentlessly trying new things and learning from my mistakes. This experience allowed me to be successful during my class and serves as a valuable lesson to me in the future.  

Jawahir S.

Age: 12

Todd Martin Youth Leadership

To me, Michael Jordan's quote is a sign of perseverance and inner strength. Not everyone has the strength to try something when they know they might fail the first couple of times and not everyone has the perseverance to keep trying despite their many failures. I believe it's a true testament to a person's character when they can keep trying despite the difficulties they face and not only overcome them but thrive in the face of the challenges they overcame. I believe that true success comes from one's failures and learning to grow and accept them but not letting them define you. And to me, Michael Jordan's quote embodies those beliefs that I hold and that's what defines a champion.

Jayna D.

Age: 16

Tennis Opportunity Program

Famous basketball player Michael Jordan once said “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” To me this quote is an awakening call for when you try to do something and fail at it. This awakens people into the real world of success and failure. Failure can only lead to success if you correctly learn from it and face failure head on. Success can also only be reached by setting short and long term goals that ease your way into success. But, just because you can only fail to succeed doesn’t mean you should aim to fail, you should always aim for success and you might possibly receive failure on the way. The moral of this story is, success isn’t possible if you don’t keep trying… 

King J. 

Age: 11

The ACE Project

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Michael Jordan’s quote “I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeeded.” can refer to a variety of things. One of them is learning from your mistakes. People often think of mistakes as the end of the road. In reality, mistakes are the obstacles we must overcome in order to achieve our dreams. Like any road trip, we pass by many sites to get to our destination. At some sites, we stop to take a closer look at them. Mistakes are like those sites. They force you to stop and rethink your path, and inevitably, teach you something new. Likewise, mistakes provide opportunities to succeed by making you address your prior errors and build off of them.

 

Gnaht C.

Age: 13

Inner City Tennis Project

The quote that Michael Jordan made means that failing can make you succeed if you can learn from failing. Failure gives you the opportunity to begin again. It helps you to see your mistakes. I compare it to my personal experience playing tennis. You can get better with more practice. It gives you the chance to start over. When you practice you are guaranteed improvement.

Maurice T.

Age: 12

The ACE Project

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To me, the quote by Michael Jordan means failure is a part of life, it is inevitable. It should not stop anyone from pursuing or accomplishing their goals. Everyone experiences failure at some point and to be honest we fail often. The quote to me means that it doesn't matter how many times you fail, it is important to never give up. To me, failure helps me learn from my mistakes so that I can be a better person, better brother and better tennis player. I also feel that failure is a part of the learning process and how we deal with failure helps us make better life choices. Also, failure tests your individual strength because it can determine how far you are willing to go to achieve greatness. Ultimately, failure leads to success.  

Jeremiah L.

Age: 16

The ACE Project

When I read Michael Jordan's quote on failure, I can directly apply it to learning to play tennis. In order to get better in tennis or any sport you my practice and fail or miss the shot repeatedly. Learning the forehand, backhand, slice and serve all are different skills where you may be better at some then others just like Jordan and basketball. Every stroke is a learning opportunity to improve and become successful. It's all about persevering through the the difficulty.  

Massimo O. 

Age: 11

Milwaukee Tennis & Education Foundation

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Question:

If you could have dinner with one famous African American in history, who would it be and what would you want to ask them?

If I could meet any famous African American in history, it would be Rosa Parks. I choose Mrs. Parks because I admire her confidence and strong will power. I also appreciate the sacrifice she made so that all Black people from around the country could have a better life. Though she was small in size and very soft spoken, I learned from her that we all have the power to stand up for our beliefs. Based on the World today, I would ask Rosa Parks if she would change her decision to not give up her seat?

Alisia P.

Age: 13

The ACE Project

If i could have dinner with one famous African American in history, it would be Frederick Douglass. I pick Frederick Douglass because he is very important. One of the questions i would ask him is what was his childhood like. I would also ask him what do you mean by "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." The last question I would ask him is how did you escape slavery?

Jesus M.

Age: 13

Inner City Tennis Project

If you could have dinner with one famous African American in history, who would it be and what would you want to ask them? I would have dinner with Arthur Ashe and I would ask him how was it like being a black person playing a sport that usually white people play and why he played even though there was segregation during the time Arthur Ashe was playing in United States Davis Cup and because this happened to many other professional black tennis players for this reason to this day they are remembered for fighting for black tennis equal rights.

Wes K.

Age: 11

Inner City Tennis Project