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2015 Winner

Is It Freedom?

By Ben Busschaert

Colonial School, Pelham, NY



It is 1886. Tomorrow is supposed to be a wonderful day when the Statue of liberty opens. I asked my dad, "Are you going to the opening of the Statue of Liberty?" "We are not allowed to go there son. It is not what you think it is. We are not invited." He tried to explain.


"But I thought you helped make the platform?"


"I did son... it is that African Americans are not invited."


That does not make sense the name of the statue is the Statue of Liberty. I thought to myself. Then I tried to say something, but I was so mad and confused that the only thing that came out of my mouth was, "I do notundeblerwaht... But why?!"


"I don't know why, I don't know."


I remember that my dad told me that the Statue of Liberty was sent by France to America as a gift of 'freedom'. Anyways I tried not to think about it because it is already an amazing thing that I am living here. When my dad was a kid he lived in Africa and most people in the village    died because most of the water wasn't clean and was toxic so you could get sick and even die drinking it. His family walked hundreds of miles to reach the Atlantic Ocean which was really dangerous. From there they used all their life savings to take a ship to America and only my dad and his sister could go because of their poverty. Only three years later my grandparents could afford the money to come. So I am here because of their sacrifices and that touches me a lot.


Three months later 1887


My dad now gives speeches for everyone's rights, male, female. and colored or not. He goes to a meeting every week and gives speeches about every month or so. My mom sews clothes for the shop next block. I am now 13 and only now do I understand that African Americans are not treated with respect; I cannot go to normal school, use water fountains and even restrooms used by whites. The other kids make fun of me and bully me because I am 'different', but everyone is different. At least I can attend school.

20 years later. 1907


Now I am 33 and I do the same job as my dad did; fight for peoples' rights. I hope that more people do this until we are reunited as a country.


108 years later 2015


And that is a part of the story of my great grandfather that I thought was important. Without him I wouldn't be writing this today and even might not be in the same school as some of you.

2014 Winner

I could feel every bump and sharp turn the driver made, the hard cord floor the truck offered was not pleasing after the hours I had spent sitting there in pain. My baby sister screamed and cried all through our uncomfortable ride. My back ached and I wished again for the wish that was supposed to be coming true but seemed to never come. After every stop, I hoped we had finally arrived at our destination but it was always just to buy food or more gas to keep the truck running. Finally, the truck stopped. I began to stand but my parents told me to wait. Minutes, then an hour passed but I didn’t care. I knew this might mean we had arrived. The drivers boarded the truck again and tossed us some food and bottles of water. I couldn’t take it, all I wanted was to reach America and have the good life my parents had talked about for the past two years. When my sister was born, they decided we needed a better life and we would leave Mexico. The place where all of my relatives had lived and died. But I was glad we were leaving. America was a free country!


During the next few days, we stopped five more times, all of us hoping that we had finally arrived. But no, just more food was being consumed. Finally, the day came! The drivers put us in a special position and told us to stay very still. I froze while the inspectors searched the truck for people. When they left, the driver continued across the border. We had made it to America, and hopefully, a better life. We would bring our culture yet learn other people’s ways.