Student pays tribute to late Sandra Parks at Marcus Center MLK Jr. celebration

MILWAUKEE -- There was an emotional moment Sunday, Jan. 20 at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the Marcus Center in Milwaukee.

A high school senior paid tribute to the late Sandra Parks, who participated in a citywide MLK essay contest two years ago. The 13-year-old girl was shot and killed on Nov. 19, when a bullet was fired into her home near 13th and Hopkins.

Ariana Cawthorn

"It was leaders like them that inspired leaders such as myself and the late Sandra Parks to be the change needed. Sandra knew that it started with ourselves -- to reach out to society and to be, as she said, our brothers' keepers," said Ariana Cawthorn, senior at Eastbrook Academy.

Sandra Parks

In her essay two years ago, Parks wrote: "Little children are victims of senseless gun violence and we must not allow the lies of violence, racism and prejudice to be our truth."

Cawthorn said she was inspired to promote change after reading Parks' essay.

"We're going through this dark area, and we just really feel like we need hope and a sense of light," said Cawthorn.

Every year, young people in Milwaukee who are inspired to make a difference through the work of MLK Jr. are honored at this ceremony.