• Evan Jones

MLK Day commission hosts first annual art contest


Mark S. McDaniel Legacy Scholarship finalist Siham Hassan presents her painting at the Broad Art Lab.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission of Mid-Michigan presented its first art contest, asking Lansing-area middle and high school students to symbolize those nine words.

Commissioner and East Lansing Fire Chief Randall Talifarro had the idea to add the art contest to the holiday commission's annual agenda. The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum partnered with the commission to sponsor the event.

“Each year we’ve done an essay contest and this year we wanted to bring in a new element,” Talifarro said. “We have about 1,600 people we anticipate attending this year.”

Everett High School senior Siham Hassan, an essay contest finalist, accompanies her mother in running the nonprofit organization the Najwa Foundation. The foundation administers humanitarian aid to the Republic of Sudan.

Hassan was born in Sudan, and spoke to a lack of awareness about the ongoing conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Hassan received $2,500 from the commission's Mark S. McDaniel Legacy Scholarship. She submitted a painting into the art contest, and the contest judges decided to display her painting at the event. 

“You’re prioritizing what’s important and leaving out what’s distracting,” Hassan said of her work. 

Winners of the art contest received $500, while second and third place received $350 and $150 respectively.

Contest winners include Elijiah Burch from MacDonald Middle School in the sixth-through-eighth grade category, followed by second and third place winners Elaina Secord and An'Torianah Crockett, both from Pattengill Biotechnical Magnet School.

In the ninth-through-12th grade category, Anica Saint-Jean from Sexton High School took first place, followed by Tobi Robinson from Everett High and Emma Granger from Lansing Christian High School.

On Monday, the commission hosts its annual luncheon, which will feature former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder as the keynote speaker. Wilder was the first African-American elected governor in U.S. history.

The commission has hosted an annual luncheon since 1981, two years before Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established by federal law.

“We thought this would be an opportunity to expand our horizons and broaden our reach," Talifarro said.