As Thanksgiving approaches and people around the nation are gathering and reflecting on the meaning of family and community, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and the Heather Heyer Foundation continue their call for entries in a nationwide ‘Stand Against Hate’ youth essay contest through which three winning essayists (ages 14-20) will earn $5,000 scholarships or grants for community projects. The three top essayists—representing the next generation of American activists and community leaders—will also be flown to Los Angeles and have the singular opportunity to ride on AHF’s 2018 Rose Parade® float honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his death.
Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, a civil rights advocate and counterprotester who lost her life during a violent white supremacy demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this year, will be among the judges of the essays and will also ride on the float with the three young essay contest winners.
The youth essay contest asks the question: “What are you doing to stand against hate in your community?” Essay submissions must be between 500-1,000 words each, and the deadline for essay submissions is now Monday, November 27th. Entry is free, and essayists can find more information about the contest and upload their entries here:
- StandAgainstHate/ Keep the Promise youth essay contest
This is the seventh year that AHF will take part in the Rose Parade®. AHF’s 2018 float is titled ‘Keeping the Promise,’ and will highlight community heroes by honoring the courage and sacrifice of civil rights and social justice activists and advocates throughout history—from iconic Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Ms. Heyer, who was tragically killed in the violent white supremacy demonstrations in Charlottesville, VA earlier this year.
“My daughter Heather stood bravely for unity and against hate and always believed in dialogue and discussion as the keys to peace,” said Susan Bro, mother of slain activist Heather Heyer and Co-founder of the Heather Heyer Foundation. “We are honored to continue Heather’s legacy by partnering with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and encouraging young people across the country to promote peace.”
“As families and friends gather to celebrate around their Thanksgiving tables this week, and many young people enjoy time off from school, work or other pursuits, we thought it a perfect time for young advocates, activists and future community leaders to reflect on what they are doing today to stand against hate in their own communities and what they are doing to foster and promote peace and community,” said Alfred Wilson, director and co-founder of the Heather Heyer Foundation. “Thanksgiving offers both inspiration—and an additional few days—for young people to dig deep and share with us some stellar essay submissions from anywhere around the nation.”
“This year marks the 30th Anniversary of AHF’s founding. Fighting for the voiceless and winning remains the cornerstone of our Foundation. As both a public health and social justice organization, we will continue to Stand Against Hate in all its forms. The youth of today are raising their voices for change, and through this youth in action essay contest and think tank, AHF will help ensure that their voices are empowered and heard. We value partnering with the Heather Heyer Foundation, and other leading celebrities, influencers, and activists as together we fight to win equality for all. It is attainable. This is just the beginning,” said Samantha Granberry, Vice President of AHF Worldwide Marketing Division.
Background on #StandAgainstHate
In the three days immediately following the attack on Charlottesville, AHF launched its #StandAgainstHate campaign both to honor those who were already standing up in the current white supremacist environment (like Heather) and as a call to action for others to join her in standing up to hate. AHF spread the message to #StandAgainstHate with billboards, a robust social media campaign, and town halls in Los Angeles; Miami; Brooklyn, New York; and Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. AHF worked tirelessly in and with these communities to honor those who have lost their lives, inspire the community, and work toward salving the wounded spirit of a divided America.
Background on AHF’s 2018 Rose Parade® Float
The AHF float will recreate the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which King and other icons of the civil rights movement marched across in 1965 in what became known as ‘Bloody Sunday,’ when armed policemen attacked civil rights demonstrators with billy clubs and tear gas. Rising at the back of the float will be a rendering of Lei Yixin’s ‘Stone of Hope’ granite statue of MLK. AHF and Heather Heyer Foundation officials also believe that its “Keeping the Promise” theme effectively dovetails with this year’s official Tournament of Roses theme: “Making A Difference.”
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to over 820,000 individuals in 38 countries worldwide in the U.S., Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia.
About the Heather Heyer Foundation:
The Heather Heyer Foundation was founded in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, to honor the memory of Heather Heyer, who lost her life on August 12, 2017, when a car plowed into a crowd of counterdemonstrators who were protesting a white nationalist rally. The Foundation provides scholarships to individuals passionate about positive social change.