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#MLK50 Essay #3 - Alicia V. Hilliard
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I was a 19-year old college student in Baltimore, Maryland when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. We had met when I was younger. He had brought civil rights activists to Cornerstone Baptist Church of Christ on numerous occasions. It was my family's church. I had entered the Miss Baltimore pageant that spring and was going to perform a modern dance. We were just beginning rehearsals when word spread about Dr. King's death.

Hours later, violence broke out in several U.S. cities, including Baltimore. Curfews forced pageant officials to secure special permission for contestants to attend rehearsals. I didn't feel like dancing anymore, and I began to write about how the March on Washington and the "I Have A Dream" speech had changed my life. It was one of the reasons I was bold enough to enter a beauty and scholarship pageant that had never welcomed a black woman. I gave my speech about Dr. King's influence on me. I won First Runner Up to Miss Baltimore, and I still have my beautiful trophy.

In September 1968, the Miss America pageant was picketed. It was also the time that the first Miss Black America was chosen.

Lastly, and most of all, it was the time that I decided to become a journalist.

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