New York, New York. On May 21st, the National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights will make the formal announcement of the winners of their national essay contest, "Does Diversity Matter?" at a media briefing in New York City at 1 p.m.

The essay winner is Jody Leung, 17, of Union City, CA, and the winner of the short answer portion of the contest is Laura Machado, 11 years old, of Louisville, KY. Runners up are from Seattle, Washington; San Jose, California; Ithaca, New York; New York City; and New Orleans, LA.

"NCRCR launched the essay contest in response to the Supreme Court´s consideration of two cases from Seattle and Louisville that could overturn or curtail historical advancements to promote diversity in schools," said Marianne Engelman Lado, general counsel of the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. The Court´s decision in these cases is likely to be announced any time before July 2007. "These cases mark a turning point in the nation´s response to the Court´s unanimous 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that ´separate but equal´ has no place in the field of public education," said Cristóbal Joshua Alex, Campaign Coordinator for NCRCR.

The judges for the contest were Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Solis, Los Angeles based civil rights attorney Doreena Wong, former NBA All-star Kevin Johnson, and the American Civil Liberties Union´s Director of Racial Justice Program, Dennis Parker.

Over 1600 entries came in from around the country, with young people 12-17 writing essays on the question and kids younger than 12 sending in short statements about why diversity matters to them. "We were thrilled with both the number of entries and the thoughtful nature of the essays and statements," said Alex. "It is fitting that so many of our winners and finalists come from Kentucky and Washington, where these two Supreme Court cases originated," continued Alex.

"Our goal with this contest was to hear directly from students why they feel diversity is important in schools–and their response was loud and clear," Alex added. "These kids clearly expressed that diversity enriches their educational experience and makes the world a better place. We couldn´t agree more and we hope the Supreme Court does the same," concluded Alex.

The briefing will take place in New York City at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, May 21, at Fordham Law School, Room 430 B and C, 140 West 62nd St., NY, NY 10023. Contest winners and participants from Kentucky, the state of Washington, New York and California will be available for interview, and national experts will provide information on the cases.

The National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights is a non-partisan movement working to ensure that our courts protect and preserve equal justice, fairness, and opportunity. We achieve these goals through raising awareness, outreach, and building alliances.

For more information about NCRCR and the contest go to: http://www.rollbackcampaign.org

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