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Tom Perriello | Fifth District Report

To mark the conclusion of Black History Month, I would like to present excerpts from the winning essays of my essay competition. I applaud these exceptional young writers and everyone who submitted entries.  

Children Category Winners: Siblings Jessica Harris (age 9) and Joshua Harris (age 4) from Palmyra

Jessica Harris, age 9: “Marion Anderson: A Woman of Courage”

From an early age, Marion Anderson loved music. When Marion was a child, she joined the Union Baptist Church choir and people were very impressed with her voice. She would even perform concerts to help support her family.

She was asked by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to perform at Constitution Hall, but some people did not want her to perform there because of the color of her skin. And again, this strong and brave woman did not let anything stop her.

Mrs. Roosevelt arranged for Marion to perform in DC at the Lincoln Memorial, instead. Marion showed her courage and her talent to the entire country. I bet Marion was scared then, too, and I bet there was danger for her, but I read that she had a great performance.

I am very glad that she opened the way so that everyone can perform. I am inspired by her because she liked to perform, and so do I. Even though things were not always smooth and even when she made mistakes, she kept persevering. She is an inspiration to all of us, no matter what our skin color is and no matter whether we like to perform or not, we can all learn how to persevere from her.


Joshua Harris, age 4: “Barack Obama”

I like Barack Obama because he is smart and nice. I like him because he makes me think that I can do stuff. He says “Yes We Can” and that makes me think that I can be President like him one day. I like that he cares about people and wants to help people. I care about peole and want to help them, too. I got to see him and hear him speak and it was cool. He made everybody feel happy and excited. I also got to watch him on TV when he became president. My sister and I were so excited, and my Mom and my Dad. He looks like a nice man. Barack Obama is my hero.


Teen Category Winner: Gabriella Dishman, Grade 12, George Washington High School from Danville

Many African-Americans are considered heroes in our society based on their influences. Martin Luther King was a significant hero of the past. His vision was one day all races would be able to live amongst one another equally. Barack Obama is a modern-day hero. He has shown that no matter what race you are, you are able to do whatever you put your mind to.

Generations are known for the legacies they leave behind them. The Civil Rights Era left the sense of equal rights among the citizens. The Hip-Hop Era left a music legacy behind it. Some music today is influenced by the style that was represented during this time. The generation we are in now is capable of leaving a legacy of empowerment. African-Americans from now on will be able to witness what the heroes before them have accomplished and feel like the sky is the limit.


Read the entire essays on my website,

Please feel free to contact me to share your concerns and ideas. You may write to 1520 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515; call 202.225.4711; or visit


– Column by Tom Perriello

augusta free press
augusta free press