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Speeches offered Sunday at Highlight Church
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Minnie Diallo knew that she wanted to get the youth of Lathrop involved with Black History Month.

Using the platform of the recently formed Lathrop Black Caucus, Diallo – the granddaughter of longtime Lathrop African-American Pastor Rev. Maurice Cotton – put together an essay contest and had Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal choose the two $100 scholarship recipients out of the five entries that were submitted for consideration.

While Diallo knew that her community had long taken the step of honoring Black History Month with a proclamation acknowledging the contributions of African-Americans to the local community and society at large, having the financial backing of the local community and the interest from residents at large motivated her to grow the essay contest in coming years to ensure that students across the community have a chance to be represented.

“I think that it’s fantastic that we received the support that we did – it was standing room only at the meeting, and it was amazing to see so many people come out and support these young people,” Diallo said. “We are diverse community, and this shows that we honor and respect that here in Lathrop.”

Local businesses like Comcast donated money to help seed the first annual contest, and local residents and Diallo herself also donated to make the vision a reality.

Four of the five entrants will again give their speech on Sunday, Feb. 17, at the Black History Month celebration at the Highlight Church of God in Christ, located at 287 Lathrop Road (on the corner of Lathrop Road and Rev. Maurice Cotton Drive). The event will begin at 6 p.m., and high school students Tasja Peterson, Barbara Cotton, Eghosa Ogbeide, and Funmmilola Olamijulo will present their submissions as will 9-year-old Dasani Brown of River Islands Technical Academy.

“We’re thankful for the support and look forward to growing the scholarships so that we can involve more students,” Diallo said. “Lathrop is growing, and we’re hoping that by doing this event and by promoting a Juneteenth celebration – which honors the end of slavery in the United States – we can reflect the unique and diverse community that Lathrop is.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.