LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Today, dozens of people gathered at the Lansing Capitol Library for the ACT-SO competition. It’s an Olympic themed essay writing and poetry competition for high school students. The event was hosted by the Lansing branch of the NAACP.

ACT-SO stands for the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, Scientific Olympics. It’s a part of the NAACP. The goal of this event is to recognize young people who can demonstrate academic, scientific and artistic achievement and today that’s exactly what they did for students in Lansing.

The ACT-SO competition took place at the Lansing Capitol Library where black history, black culture, and poetry were not only showcased, but also celebrated.

“We must know our history learn our history to have proper perspective about where we are now and what the future holds for us,” Community Member Dennis Burnside said.

ACT-SO was founded in 1978 by author and journalist Vernon Jarrett. Jarrett had a vision of helping young black people pursue their creative talents and academic dreams. Burnside came out to support the program and said he believes it’s having an impact.

“I think it’s giving young people and idea of what their potential is and giving them positive reinforcement,” Burnside said.

Competitors submitted their essays before the competition and today, judges were able to ask questions about the submissions and scored the students on their writing skills. Robbin Bell was one of the judges. She said that what these young people are doing is bigger than just a competition.

“But just being a representative and being able to express your meaning and your philosophy,” Bell said.

Anastasia Thomas-Cruz won 2nd place and Mickala Martin won third place. They said while they’re feeling so many different emotions, they are simply proud of their history and culture.

“A lot of people have worked very hard for this and to show that their work has been passed on to our generation and to see that we are working hard to show our efforts. It’s very important,” Cruz said.

Martin agreed saying, “When people talk about culture and history they don’t really share the importance of black culture and history and I think it’s important that everybody should start to know the truth.”