If all Americans learned "about the richness of black culture, our nation would become more open, just and compassionate," a seventh-grader from Fountain Valley wrote.
Tricia Michels, author of that essay, will be honored Friday with others as African-American Citizens of Distinction from Orange County.
The reception, co-sponsored by Santa Ana and the Orange County Chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, will be held at 8 p.m. at Southwest Senior Center, 2201 W. McFadden Ave. in Santa Ana.
Tricia's 200-word essay, "Who Celebrates Black History and Why?" was selected from more than 50 across the county in a contest co-sponsored by the African American Council of the Historical and Cultural Foundation of Orange County and by the city of Santa Ana.
Tricia, a student at First Southern Baptist Christian School, will receive a $500 savings bond.
Fran Williams, the city's community events coordinator, said Friday's honorees represent "leadership in the African-American community."
A committee from the city's staff and the NAACP selected the names from nominations submitted by the community.
The honorees are: Ron Harding, owner of a moving company in Anaheim; Rev. Wilford Alexander, pastor of the Gospel Light Church of God in Christ in Santa Ana; Rev. John McReynolds, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Santa Ana; Connie Jones, executive director of Southwest Community Center; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. for its volunteer work; Marne Glass, attorney; Horace Mitchell, a vice chancellor at UC Irvine; Adleane Hunter, founder of the Orange County Black Actors Theater; Earl Fields, an advocate for the homeless; Michael Mumford, internist; Clarence Spence, a family practitioner and gerontologist, and Jackie Slater, who plays for the Los Angeles Rams.