Caleb Campbell

This year’s local MLK Scholarship recipient said he’s proud he was chosen to represent Martin Luther King Jr. and what King means, through the scholarship.

Caleb Campbell, 18, a senior at Danville High School and son of Nathan and Lisa Campbell, is the recipient of the $4,000 scholarship.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee started giving scholarships to high school graduating students in 1997. The selection of the scholarship recipient by the MLK Committee is not based on any racial, religious, ethnic or cultural affiliation.

“I’m planning to major in mechanical engineering,” Caleb said of his plans after high school.

He’s currently undecided for what college he’ll attend.

His high school involvements have included orchestra, show choirs, scholastic bowl, and he was going to play football, but couldn’t due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said he was “overjoyed” when he learned he received the scholarship.

“I know it’s an honor to receive this scholarship. It really does mean a lot to me,” Caleb said.

He said MLK didn’t just stand for one thing or another. He stood for principles of Christianity, and everyone is created equal, “and I really believe that.”

Caleb said this year’s MLK scholarship essay topic was about how MLK’s speech has been so influential in American history.

He said he focused on how MLK was a Christian, and he is too.

“It’s not so much what everybody else looks like and how they appear, (but it’s) mainly their actions and their words, and that is the most influential and important part of a person,” Caleb said.

Caleb said he was a little nervous to read his essay at Monday’s MLK celebration at St. James United Methodist Church. This year’s celebration was streamed live due to coronavirus restrictions limiting the number of those who could be in-person.

Caleb’s essay: “Martin Luther King, Jr. has and will continue to show his legacy, even through death. He gave many speeches, preached many sermons and wrote several books, all based around one concept: Christianity. He wanted America, the land that was and is under God, to act like it was. Started by religious men who knew what was right at heart, America hasn’t always appeared that way, enforcing slavery, killing innocent Native Americans, and suppressing women’s rights, but Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to change that. His most famous speech, ‘I Have a Dream,’ shows this. He states, ‘I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.’ That creed is that all men are created equal. We may look, sound and act different, but we are all human.”

“At the time of ‘I Have a Dream,’ America was in a time of trouble. It was nearly 100 years after the Civil War, and while conditions for African-Americans had progressed, it was nowhere close to where it should’ve been. People were segregated from each other in everything, from schools, to work, to the bathrooms and water fountains used. Thanks to many, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 balanced the scale for people of color. Equal but separate became a phrase of the past. While segregation became illegal and outdated, there was still tension between people.”

“Growing up in Danville, I have been fortunate enough to go to Danville High School and garner an excellent education. With that being said, I have also been fortunate to have two loving parents who have insisted I go to church from a young age. Aside from both of these, I have also played football and participated in show choir at Danville High School. Through all of this, I have met people from all walks of life, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I have learned that a person shouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin, or their appearance at all. What truly matters is not outside, but inside, in their actions and words. The old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ comes to mind. While this should be commonplace now, our nation is still plagued with problems of this type. As a Christian, I believe we must love everyone, regardless of how they appear. I believe Martin Luther King agreed with this statement, and actively worked towards that goal. Even though ‘I Have a Dream’ was spoken over 50 years ago, it still carries relevance and meaning to this day. The profound words spoken by Martin Luther King are words we should strive to live by. Martin Luther King may have passed, but his dream will live on for generations to come.”

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