BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Three winners were chosen for this year’s Black History Month Essay Competition at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC) Chase Perrotta, 6th grade, Pioneer Middle School; Lotoya Willis, 7th grade, Lauderdale Lakes Middle School; and Ta’Daja Graham, 11th grade, Plantation High School were honored during a Feb. 22 ceremony, where they each received a Kindle Fire tablet and a $50 gift card from sponsor Best Buy in Davie.

In January, Broward County Public School students were invited to submit an original essay in celebration of Black History Month. This year’s theme was “Describe a       monument, historical site, event or notable individual in Florida that is associated with the American Civil Rights struggle. Describe its (or their) historical impact on the Civil Rights Movement.”

Chase Perrotta wrote about Harry T. Moore, founder of the first chapter of the NAACP in Brevard County, FL. He writes, “In 1937 Harry filled out his first lawsuit to equalize black and white teacher salaries, even though the case was lost it sparked 12 other lawsuits.” He also wrote that Moore was killed by a bomb placed beneath his bed after he succeeded in setting free four black men accused of raping a white woman.

Lotoya Willis wrote about civil rights leader Dr. Robert B. Hayling. “In September 1963, Hayling and two others were nearly beaten to death at a KKK rally. However, despite these attempts, Hayling’s protesting eventually resulted in the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Ta’Daja Graham wrote about educator Mary McLeod Bethune, saying, “With her improvements to black society and culture during this time, it helped blacks to realize that they could go beyond statistics, and graduate college and become whatever they wanted to become; including teachers, physicians, lawyers, etc.”

In addition to awarding prizes, the ceremony also included two performances by Parkway Middle School and a dance performance by a community dance group—the Wild Bulls. A reception following the event was sponsored by the Friends of the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center.