Winner! First Annual Photo Empowerment Contest!

LeadershipAliyah Cofer, 12, submitted this photo which was selected as the first place winner in the National Urban League's 2011 Youth Photo Empowerment Contest, below is her commentary on the photo:

The photograph I selected to represent leadership features a group of white pawn chess pieces surrounding the one individual black king chess piece. When I staged this photograph I knew I wanted the image to say that even though there may be people who ostracize you for being different, stand strong with purpose and confidence. A true leader has a certain presence and statue that differentiates them from the group such as the position of the black king chess piece.

I was often criticized because I was always the rue-follower and the good girl in school. This picture is signifigent because this experience helped me understand what being a leader means. I learned after giving in their criticism, you have to find the strength to stand firm in your convictions. A true leader rises above the group with the ability to gain the trust and loyalty of the group by being in control and taking ownership of issues. Having learned this lesson about true leadership, I had more of an emotional connection to this photograph and wanted to share this with others. A leader must master self-awareness because before you learn how to lead others, you must first know yourself.

You can see other winners of the contest here: National Urban League's 2011 Youth Photo Empowerment Contest