LIVONIA, MICH. – Nekold Jones, MBA student, graduate assistant for University Advancement and Communications, and Crusaders track and field athlete, won the MLK Essay Contest sponsored by the City of Livonia's Human Relations Commission (HRC). Students who submitted essays were asked to address the following questions: Dr. King used the concept of allyship with regard to his fight for Social Justice. Explain the importance of allyship with regard to social Justice. Who is your ally and what has that journey been? What do you do to be an ally in your community?
Essays were submitted by eight students. The MLK Event Planning Committee chose the top four and forwarded them to the HRC. Denise Collins-Robison, HRC member, announced Jones as the winner during the MLK Celebration on January 17. Pictured here with Jones (center) are (L-R) Chris Dougherty, president; Richard Glover, HRC Chair; Collins-Robinson; Jones; Livonia Mayor Maureen Miller Brosnan; Jesse Cox, chief diversity officer; Chris Benson, vice president for student affairs and mission integration.
Jones read, with passion, the following excerpt from her winning essay:
Being a Black woman, my journey in fostering allyship unfolds through various channels. Previously, holding the position of vice president of the Black Student Union at Madonna University, I actively worked to cultivate a supportive community, advocating for the needs and voices of my fellow members, while offering a sense of belonging. Through my contributions to my school newsletter, I feel as though I amplify marginalized perspectives, providing a platform for storytelling. Engaging in conversations across campus, even when I find myself as the lone Black presence in the room, shows my resilience and commitment to broadening understanding. I take the initiative to speak first during uncomfortable discussions, recognizing the power of my voice to encourage others to share their experiences. Beyond the racial dynamics, I actively advocate for and support the rights and equality of all genders. As a feminist, it goes beyond my personal experiences. By promoting gender inclusivity and challenging norms, I contribute to creating a more equitable and just environment for everyone.
Moreover, my support for the Black community extends to uplifting and celebrating the achievements of fellow Black individuals. “Rooting For Everybody Black” is not just a slogan but a genuine expression of solidarity, recognizing the importance of unity and collective progress. My fist raised while saying “Black Lives Matter” or “Black Power” is not rage. I am standing in unity with who we are as people. Learning my history, being one with myself, and loving the skin that I am in. I am not an angry Black woman; I simply just want to be treated better.
Speaking out against societal wrongs is not just a choice but a responsibility I am willing to shoulder, as I strive to be an ally who challenges and confronts injustices on every front. So, this is not just an essay; it is my plea for understanding, empathy, and a reckoning with a past that refuses to loosen its grip. Every word I write carries the weight of my history, a history that has silenced us.