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Beacon Academy

Beacon Academy serves low-income students living in Boston and surrounding urban areas. Most (80%) of our students’ families live below the poverty level and the remainder of them live just above it. They don’t always have money for food, often experience instability in their housing, and are plagued by job insecurity. Of our 247 graduates and 22 current students, 57% are Black, 28% Hispanic, 9% Biracial, 3% Caucasian, and 3% Asian. 140 are female-identifying and 129 are male-identifying. Most students become the first in their families to finish high school or complete college, and many break multi-generational cycles of teenage parenthood and adult poverty. In short, Beacon students represent the most underserved Boston residents; yet they have the grit, talent, and determination to change the trajectory of their lives.

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MLK Essay Contest Winner

A Hero for Equality

by Valerie Rosario, Beacon ’18

Martin Luther King Jr., the rebel, the warrior, and the hero, has inspired America to find their voices. Fighting for our rights, he opened doors and motivated kids like me to do the same. In 1963 when Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech the world began to finally believe that racial equality was possible. Now fifty-five years later, he has inspired us to fight for equality with regard to gender, sexuality, religion, and—still– race. As a young Latina, the life I have now is owed to Dr. King and his ambitions.  

I thank MLK for taking the first step in our fight towards equality. Although we have come a long way since the Jim Crow Laws, this nation is still not “Justice for all.” The US is no longer the land of opportunity; instead it has become a place where immigrants are belittled. My mother was a college professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, one of the best universities in the Dominican Republic; here I have had to observe as she is taken advantage of because of her lack of English. I have had to observe how managers are on the lookout when my dad enters a jewelry store. I have grown up observing the inequality in America.

But I am no longer an observer. Now I speak up about gender issues, undocumented immigrants being referred to as “illegal,” racial discrimination, and, most importantly, the lack of unity as a nation.

Two years after the “I Have a Dream” speech, MLK said, “Our lives begin to end the day that we become silent about the things that matter.” I believe that immigrants, Muslims, gays, Jews, and all minorities matter. Dr. King found courage and strength to break the silence that held minorities captive. Progress in this nation is impossible without unity. And unity is not possible if we don’t have equality. It is up to the youth to actually make America great. It is our turn to speak up.