Announcing…
THE "VOICES OF THE PEOPLE"
brought to you by Rev. Al Sharpton and NewsOne

Would you like to get your work published on NewsOne?

If so, this Black History Month, tell us which local or national African-American figure has impacted your life and why, in 350 words or less.

Then tell your friends to come back to this page and VOTE! (Visitors may vote once per day.)

Whichever essay gets the most votes from readers will:

  1. Receive "Guest Blogger for a week" designation on NewsOne, with the opportunity to have two blogs published on NewsOne.
  2. Your essay discussed on the nationally syndicated Rev. Al Sharpton Radio Show.
  3. In addition, the top five (5) entrants who receive the most votes (includes the grand prize winner) will each receive a Malcolm X movie BLU-RAY DVD.

Read the contest rules here

To enter, write or paste your essay in the form below.

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During a visit to the local library, I came across a hardcover book that was peeking its way out of the tiny section of African American literature. It was a faded tone of red with gold lettering that read “How to Succeed Against the Odds” by John H. Johnson. Curiously, I opened it up and read the first line.

“Nobody succeeds alone or writes a book alone.”

I read a little further.

“….and I want to thank the people who supported the Ebony idea and helped me survive with honor.”

It was then that I realized I was reading the autobiography of the man who had created Ebony magazine- The magazine that remains a staple on the black woman’s coffee table. “How could something so loved by women have been created by a man?” I asked myself. I checked out the book and spent the next two days figuring it out. I could have never imagined how the story of a man who started a magazine with no college education and very little money would have such a great impact on my life.

Years later, while unemployed and sleeping on my parent’s couch with $10 to my name, I recalled those stories I read in that faded red book. They gave me just the fuel I needed to convince myself that the Women’s Lifestyle Journal (http://www.BrooklynAvenueJournal.com) I was creating was worth the effort.

John. H. Johnson created Ebony magazine with a $500 loan against his mother’s couch and I created Brooklyn Avenue Journal while sleeping on my mother’s couch.

Only time will tell if Brooklyn Avenue Journal will be as beloved to black women as Ebony magazine, but what I know for sure is that I have John H. Johnson to thank.

“Nobody succeeds alone”- John. H. Johnson
 
Name:  Christina
 
   
It is beneficial to demonstrate how a common voice can exists within the African American community and all others. Carter G. Woodson wrote in his book “The Mis-Education of the Negro”, that uniting forces of different backgrounds and politics would serve the communities best than having separate goals. The challenge in this case is for the “educated” African American, not to behave from an individualized perspective, rather in a collective manner to empower the race as a whole.
The following three quotes from The Mis-Education of the Negro, are very powerful to me as well because it describes many of the issues suffered by contemporary African Americans, who have appeared to have forgotten the struggle.
“Negros has learned from others how to spend money much more rapidly than he has learned how to earn it.”
“Such knowledge is especially necessary in the case of Negroes because of the fatal tendency toward imitation not only of the white man but the imitation of others in his own group.”

A business like Passionate about the Future was influence by Mr. Carter G. Woodson, and it can provide a concept of establishing a base of fundamental resources. These resources provide an opportunity for a large demographic to transition into the workforce. These resources include financial planning, reading and writing comprehension and public speaking; tailoring the needs of community, while providing attainable job opportunities and technical classes.

“[I believe that it is possible to dispose of beauty or of wisdom alike honorably or dishonorably; for if a person sells his beauty for money to anyone who wishes to purchase it, men call him a male prostitute; but if anyone makes a friend of a person whom he knows to be an honorable and worthy admirer, we regard him as prudent. In like manner those who sell their wisdom for money but whoever makes a friend of a person whom he knows to be deserving, and teaches him all the good that he knows, we consider him to act the part which becomes a good and honorable citizen.”
Socrates
 
Name:  Mrs Young
 
   
I've so proud of Maxine Waters and glad she belongs to us oh she's a bad MAMA JAMA and follow her on c-span when she appears, she is right on point and the the other way to show these gluttens (corrupt thieves) is to do what Martin Luther King did is to boycott their businesses which is the only way to their brains(stomach). We must stop feeding the beast that kills us,those same old folks that we fought in the civil rights didn't disappear some are still here and have added their posterity all about this country and this is qiute transparent .We also see that the judges don't have the GUTS to prosecute their thievery, it takes a ton of evidence to prove a case of discrimination still to this day and cases like Rodney King even with full blown evidence will those who still openly beat us with those varying types of whips continue to produce people like the republicants, they are so clearly seen for who they really are (demons)
 
Name:  RJ
 
   
Practical, bold, self abandoned, Dr Martin Luther King defined life and freedom for me. His life and teachings created in me the knowledge to understand why my father did not life his eyes to be level with certain people groups in our city and State.

Born in New Mexico, one would think that racism and prejudice would be non existent. Dr Martin Luther King defined racism in such a way that it meant freedom from unnatural feelings of insecurity and displacement. His work and legacy impacted my life in such a manner that I've been able to raise my family to believe that they can achieve whatever they set their hearts and minds to achieve.

Dr King represented more than equality, he presented to me the opportunity to be proud of who I was born, and to whom God had destined life. He helped me look inward and pull on the resources of greatness inside my own being. He made me proud to be both dark skinned and an American. Never again would I separate the two, I could be both and I was proud of being both.

Dr Martin Luther King is an icon in my life because he stood and died for what he believed, freedom! I am in that same quest today as I raise both voice and conscious to be a better, not bitter, person and give away whatever I again that others might also find freedom! Dr Martin Luther King impacted my life forever!
 
Name:  Earl D Johnson
 
   
I choose Rev. Jessie Jackson simply because this one man was bold enough to stand before the world and speak boldly about the plight of black people. This man has been so instrumental in just being a family man.....all his children are successful. Even though he made personal mistakes his family is still in tact. I love it! As a result of his perseverance many others have stepped up to the plate and are doing tremendous work. One person of this same standard is the Rev Dr. Al Sharpton another great man doing spectacular work and I wish him the best. Of course I can't leave out our President of the United States, Mr. Obama. Without him the world would never begin to look at the black male for what he truly is. He has opened the eyes of all people of the world.
 
Name:  Faithgirl
 
   
I would first of all like to support Cornel West as the Black figure that has consistently address issues that affect the so-called African-American community.I purposely use the term Black, becuse it expresses a certain frame of mind and spirit than African-American.I know plenty of AfricanAmericans that are not Black. Cornel West has in recent time exposed a couple of so Afican-American, for who they really are. Such as Barack Obama, and his hands off agenda for Black America as it relates to poverty. Then he comes back and puts Melissa Harris in the spot light, for her role in avoiding the black agenda, due to personal agenda, and political gains through white liberal media.As a underground on the rise urban gorilla; I find Cornel West as one the few Black intellects, that are not scared and shackled by the same system that usually takes our so-called leadership and buys them off, then exploits them as some form of speakers for our cause. I am not a advocate for Black on Black crime at any level; but Blacks demanding that African-Americans stand up and be counted for as Black, I applaud.The Black revolution in the sixties felled my generation in a most selfish way. It appears that most of our so called leaders have fallen for the old inclusion illusion, and really think they are making headway for the masses of their people,but the reality for me and millions behind me is that our leaders have failed to create an institution that will begin to take the shackles off the minds of so many African Americans that are still afflicted with the stench of oppression,that took up roots during the inception of chattel slavery. I believe that comrades like Cornel West who have the publics ear, and screams loud and firm, deserve reconition for not selling out to this new age of rainbow distraction. My issues are because I am Black, not multi-colored. So again I thank Cornel West for keeping the issues centered and on the front line.
 
Name:  JomilX
 
   
Marcus Garvey has influence me to most, because he taught me to do for self and not depend on anybody else. Marcus Garvey wasn't just about talk he set the example.

In the 1920's through his organization called the Universal Negro Improvement Assoication, Marcus Garvery built a chain of grocery stores, he built factories, and in his factories he was making black dolls for little black girls to play with. Not only that Garvey's built a hotel and he also started his own trucking company.

Marcus Garvey started 3 newspapers and his main newspaper was called the Negro World and this newspaper was published in French and Spanish.

Without the television, radio and internet Marcus Garvey was able to get 6 million people to join his organization, and he had branches in 22 countries.

Marcus Garvey said that as black people we should have our own political parties just like other races, and he later started his own political party called The Peoples Political Party.

Marcus Garvey doesn't get the credit that he deserve for his contributions, he's not mentioned in public schools in America so a lot of black kids don't know about him.

The sad part is even during Black History month you hardly ever hear anybody mention his name, but it's time for that to change.

Kenneth
 
Name:  Kenneth
 
   
Teachers are severely under-estimated and under-valued nowadays. But my old high school English teacher, Mrs. Carol Johnson, and the lessons she taught me inside and outside of the classroom are priceless.

She not only taught me the nuances of the King's grammar; she instructed me on the A,B,Cs of what it took to be a smart, intelligent, dignified black man. You see, neither my neighborhood nor my home life was conducive for healthy, intellectual growth. And that sophisticated, southern-bred Mrs. Johnson knew this. She worked well beyond the academic confines of the classroom to ensure that I made something of myself.

When she wasn't instructing me on subject-verb agreement, Mrs. Johnson encouraged me to purchase jeans that matched my waist measurements instead of those of Biggie Smalls. When I was afraid to go home because I feared a relative would hurt me or someone on the street would jump me, Mrs. Johnson always gave me a lift to the crib.

When I see all of the political backlash against teachers, I cringe. Sure, many are bad and need to be given pink slips. But I am willing to bet none of these politicians have ever met a Mrs. Johnson. She taught students who didn't want to be taught and met with parents who could give less than a damn.

What is fascinating about Mrs. Johnson is that she did give a damn-about everyone. If it was not for Mrs. Johnson, I would not have graduated from college to live the productive life I live today. There is a saying about teachers that goes, "Students don't care about how much you know; they want to know how much you care."

Well, Mrs. Johnson cared a lot about me. And, because of this, I know much more about grammar and life than she likely ever anticipated.

Thank Mrs. Johnson for helping me find my voice. Through my short prose, I hope people hear yours as well.
 
Name:  Thomas Smith
 
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