“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior,” wrote Elie Wiesel in 1992. “All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.” The professor, Nobel Laureate, Holocaust survivor and activist passed away in July, but the impact of his work to end hate and discrimination endures.
This year the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage Stop the Hate® Youth Speak Out $100,000 essay competition encourages Northeast Ohio students to draw inspiration from Wiesel’s human rights legacy while responding to a prompt inspired by the words of this advocate for tolerance.
In 500 words or less, share an incident when you or someone you know was treated unfairly or you treated someone unfairly based on race, socioeconomic status, gender, religion, etc. Why was this judgment wrong? How did the experience affect you? What have you done and what will you do to help end intolerance and create a more inclusive community?
“The world is filled with inequities and injustices that trouble many of us, but having the courage and motivation to combat those forces is what sets upstanders apart,” says Maltz Museum education director Jeffery Allen. “This competition reinforces the responsibility of the individual to effect positive change and celebrates young leaders who are ready to put their vision into action.”
Since it launched eight years ago, Stop the Hate® has empowered more than 20,000 students to stand up for what they believe, awarding $800,000 in programmatic anti-bias grants and academic scholarships. Past winners have gone on to become public speakers, form nonprofits, launch businesses, conduct medical research, pursue advocacy and help shape public policy.
The Stop the Hate® Youth Speak Out contest is open to Northeast Ohio 6-12th graders in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull and Wayne counties. Students can attend a public, private, religious, home, online or charter school. Entries are due Fri 1/6/17 for 6th-10th graders and Fri 1/20/17 for grades 11-12. Twenty-five finalists will appear at the final judging and public awards ceremony on Tue 4/25/17, affording the public a chance to hear students from different corners of the region take a stand against the injustices they see around them.
“Providing a platform for a diverse cross-section of students to share stories and ideas that could influence each other in positive ways is critical to promoting inclusive communities,” says Maltz Museum executive director Ellen Rudolph, because, as last year’s $40,000 Grand Prize Winner Nupur Goel wrote, “Education, love and acceptance are the first steps to breaking down barriers.”