Cumberland County Middle School Students Win Essay Contest Writing about Women Civil Rights Activist


AMMD Pine Grove Project sponsored its 2nd Annual Women’s History Month Essay Contest during the month of March. Cumberland County Middle School students had the opportunity to write an essay on the topic, “What woman, historic or present, in Cumberland County inspires you most and why?

“Visualize having a voice so powerful that it saves a part of history.”

“You can’t stop! You have to continue to make sure that everybody’s rights are the same.”

These were the opening sentences that captivated the scoring team to read more of Kamira Holman and Alana Johnson’s essays; both 7th grade students at Cumberland County Middle School. Receiving perfect scores, both Kamira and Alana, were 1st place co-winners. These students poured their hearts into their essays and evidenced research to support their topic on the women who inspire them most.

Alana chose to write about her great aunt, “Aunt Dot” who was a student during the Massive Resistance Movement of 1959 in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Alana is inspired by her Aunt’s tenacity, community service, and accomplishments having served on the Board of Directors for the Robert Russa Moton Museum to her published book, “Educated In Spite Of”.

After having heard about Muriel Miller Branch during her class discussions of Cumberland natives, historic and present, in her History class Kamira asked her teacher if it would be possible to conduct a phone interview with Mrs. Branch. “I chose her because she inspires me to work hard, use my voice and actions to make a difference.”

These young ladies did a phenomenal job capturing the essence of why Dorothy Lockett Holcolmb and Muriel Miller Branch inspired them. Kamira wrote, “Mrs. Branch has that voice that speaks to me and makes me want to dream to do better.” Alana shared, “Aunt Dot was the light in the dark, during the time of segregation; she was the hope for peace. She inspires me to speak up and not stay silent when I see injustice. One's voice and few words can impact the lives and futures of many generations.”

Dorothy Lockett Holcolmb and Muriel Miller Branch were civil rights activists, and as expressed in the essays, the common thread is women using their voices to empower others and promote equal justice.

Kamira and Alana were awarded $100 gift cards and a copy of “You Need A Schoolhouse” written by Stephanie Deutsch to read as a part of their classroom instruction in preparation for the culminating event, a Tuskegee-Rosenwald School Tour. The collaboration with two History teachers at Cumberland County Public Schools, Mr. Longenecker and Mr. Ronemus, is part of the AMMD Pine Grove Project Partners in Philanthropy Program funded in part by Virginia Humanities.



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