TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Area students in 5th-12th grade wrote poems of their own inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and performed them at the annual MLK Poetry Competition.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." That's the theme of this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Poetry Competition.
It's also what inspired Blaine McVey to write his poem titled "Silence."
"I thought why is silence bad, and I just put the reasons why you shouldn't be silent," he said.
McVey is an 8th grader at Washburn Rural Middle School.
He was joined by students from other Topeka school districts who all made their voices heard Tuesday night.
"It's wonderful to hear the thoughts and the passion that a lot of our young children share with us," said speaker Carolyn Wims-Campbell.
Martin Luther King Jr. wasn't the only inspiration for students though.
Akkina Johnson, a 7th grader at Jardine Middle School, said Ruby Bridges inspires her.
Johnson used her poem to share a personal experience.
"I was nervous to go to an all white school being the only black kid and being so young. So, when I wrote this poem I knew that was the first thing that came to my mind," she said.
Campbell said getting the kids to speak out on these issues is exactly what the competition is about.
"We need to encourage our children at a young age to be able to express their thoughts, their love, their cares, and their concerns," she said.
If Dr. King were here today, Campbell said, "He would be so pleased to see all different races participating and sharing his life through poetry."