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Challenges to the Dream
The Best of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards at Carnegie Mellon University
Jim Daniels, ed.; Jim Daniels, intro.




Carnegie Mellon
2017 • 200 pp. 6 x 9"
Literary Collections - American / Literary Criticism - African American

$19.95 Paperback, 978-0-88748-628-9



Brave, honest writing about race and difference by young people trying to make sense of a world in which they encounter discrimination

This anthology celebrates the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards at Carnegie Mellon University, a poetry and prose writing contest that, since 1999, has invited Pittsburgh-area high school and college students to write daring, eloquent, and inventive poetry and prose to help explore and break down issues of difference in our lives.

This anthology will be of interest to readers engaged in discussions about race, gender, and sexual orientation in America. With its focus on student writing, it could be of particular use in classrooms.

Reviews / Endorsements



“It is consoling beyond words to witness these young writers wrestling with the realities of race, and bringing solid thought and well-wrought language to bear upon that process. This is the mortar that will mend our nation's spirit. These are the minds and hearts to whom I feel safe entrusting our collective future.”—Tracy K. Smith, Poet Laureate of the United States, Pulitzer Prize Winner

From the Book:

For a Day the Air Is New

by Claire Matway

We trundle along in our yellow school bus,
eighth-graders with the world
high above our heads. Hot sun
blows through our open windows
with the last breezes of spring, gloriously harsh light
on rough, potholed streets.
We're seated as usual:
a cluster of black kids in the rear, white kids
sprinkled along the middle, a few mixed groups in the front.
The day smells like new leaves and we
breathe it in.
Someone says,
"Hey!"
Here, a sudden shift in the atmosphere's texture! Here,
words move like paper airplanes: "Hey, you—
white kids! Come back here!" choruses
from the black kids in back, and
we turn around, grinning.
"Why're none of you back here? Come on!" they say.
The season changes
and it is time for our migration—
"Yeah, let's go!" we yell, and stumble through
the congested aisle, brown rubber of the seats
slick under our palms.
We smash in five to a seat,
shouting back and forth, exploding in laughter,
skin warm in the air.
Reorganize the layout, destroy the map! We are together for today;
if only for today, our own voices
have allowed us to break the rules.
When the bus' tires slow
against the gray of the road, we surge outside,
blinking sunlight into our eyes, then walk to the school's doors
in a quickly formed chain
(black, white, black, white),
holding hands and
singing, singing-we are young, we are spring-filled,
we are spirit-filled, we are eighth-graders with the world
high above our heads; we are linked together and we
are laughing.



JIM DANIELS, Baker Professor of English, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.



Sat, 2 Dec 2017 12:29:07 -0500