Photos and video contributed by Gavin Guerra
Sabrina Guerra, a ten-year-old autistic non-speaker, was honored by Senator Chris Murphy on February 11 for her winning entry to the senator’s seventh annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Essay Contest.
Senator Murphy said nearly 2,000 entries were received from elementary, middle, and high school students across the state. Winners were selected in Connecticut’s congressional districts.
The senator spoke at a reception honoring contest winners, read from Ms. Guerra’s essay, and noted its focus on disability rights.
Agents of Change and a March Toward a New World
by Sabrina Guerra
Grade 5, Virtual ACCESS Academy
Martin Luther King Jr. aspired to bring peace and equality to oppressed people. I share this dream. I am of a marginalized group fighting for our right to be heard, the right to define ourselves, and the right to belong. I am an autistic non-speaker and I’ve been subjected to mistreatment and segregation because of prejudice and ignorance. Like MLK Jr., I have an inextinguishable flame for justice.
Ableism is a damaging force in society, destroying souls and sowing division. Ableism looms over America’s education system, saturates our medical institutions, and shrouds our media. In my lived experience ableism usurped my right to an equal education.
MLK Jr. made history by a tireless campaign toward progress. He refused his challengers’ insistence that he and his people patiently wait for justice. As was right and bold then, our revolution is now. Disabled voices must be amplified over those who have no authority to speak for us, define us, nor deny us access.
On countless occasions my mind has sailed to feats of unyielding courage of Martin Luther King Jr. and his peers. Many stinging, similar offenses and parallel dreams tie my aspirations to their journeys and leadership. My advocacy is a fire that burns within my damaged yet proud and beautiful soul.