Sixth grader Ernie Davis III received the 2023 Capturing the Vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for the State of Ohio on January 12, 2023. This award recognizes young Ohioans who exemplify leadership, nonviolence, and a commitment to excellence and interracial cooperation.
Recipients of this prize "demonstrate impressive leadership in carrying on Dr. King's legacy by bringing their communities together," said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. "We are incredibly grateful for their work to keep his dream alive and encourage unity among all Ohioans."
Ernie is a force for good in Greater Cincinnati at only 11 years old! As a Wyoming Middle School student, he spends much of his time studying and playing on his basketball team. In his spare time, he volunteers as Professor Ernie, teaching kids about Black heroes and she-roes of today and years past.
Each month Ernie reads books from the library, organizes his thoughts into a slide deck, and teaches K-8 students about one hero and one she-ro. He began Roots presentations in 2018 as a 7-year-old in Chicago. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he taught his Roots program virtually. Since the summer of 2022, Ernie and his mother, Judith, have been teaching classes in-person at the College Hill Branch of the Cincinnati Public Library.
Ernie's dedication to his community goes beyond his Roots program. He helped raise funds to donate books from diverse authors to his local library, developed a set of anti-bullying recommendations for his school, and developed the first Diversity Day at this elementary school. After winning first place in the Frederick Douglass National Historical Site Oratorical Contest in 2019, Ernie shared tips on memorizing and delivering orations to other young people participating in their first speech contests. Ernie intends to become a lawyer and advocate for those oppressed by systems of inequity.
The winners of the annual MLK Awards were recognized during the 38th Annual Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration at Trinity Episcopal Church. A rebroadcast of the ceremony will be available on The Ohio Channel.