BGS Writing Prize

By focusing his entry on the story of Anthony Ray Hinton, the writer provides his reader with a poignant example of perseverance in the face of adversity. This piece is a meditation on hope and the many forms it can take: patience,  strength of character and open-mindedness. The motif of light within darkness brings a tenderness to a challenging subject matter, evidence of a mature sensitivity at work. 

How can a man live in a nation whose justice system is deeply rooted in oppression? In the face of severe injustice, what use does hope actually have? In the wake of the murder of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter Protests such questions are yet again being brought up. They are not new. They tell a story of shattered dreams, broken hearts, and unimaginable loss. It’s a wonder people are left standing. But as there always is, a light can be found among the darkness. A light that brings with it the message of hope.

In the face of adversity, there is perhaps no greater legacy of hope than that of Anthony Ray Hinton, an African American man sentenced to death for crimes he never committed. In the subsequent 30-year struggle for justice, Hinton came to embody the most defining aspects of hope with his patience, open-mindedness, and raw human spirit. His story of endurance in the harshest of places is one from which everyone can draw hope.

From the moment the judge swung his gavel hope was all Hinton had. He watched men and women led to their executions every single week and endured not only the deaths of beloved friends but that of his own mother who never saw him a free man. Despite the unimaginable trauma and hardships Hinton never once stopped fighting, stating in his autobiography he had two choices: ‘to give up or to hang on.’

In all the adversity that you might face, never lose sight of who you are and what you stand for. Your spirit is what makes you. Never relinquish your grip in spite of the adversity life might throw at you. Let others help mould and shape it but never surrender complete control. Debate your ideals, allow external factors to play a part in shaping you, but throughout your turmoils and triumphs retain who you are as a person. That is what hope is all about.

Year 10 student