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MLK Art & Essay Contest

To commemorate the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., University of Idaho undergraduates, graduates and professional students enrolled for the spring semester are invited to write an essay or create an artistic piece in the medium of their choice in response to a prompt about equality and social, racial and ethnic justice.

Save the Date: January 2017

2016 Contest Details

The 2016 University of Idaho MLK Day keynote speaker was award-winning activist and organizer Alicia Garza. Credited with inspiring the "Black Lives Matter" slogan, Garza is known for her work to create caring community in her hometown of San Francisco.

Along with being co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Garza is the executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and has rallied behind numerous causes to end police brutality, racism and violence against minorities.

Taking inspiration from Garza’s work, students were asked to write a short essay (three pages double-spaced) or create a piece of original artwork that imagines how we might work to create a more caring community on the University of Idaho campus.

Contest winners to be announced.

All University of Idaho degree-seeking undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled for the spring 2016 semester are invited to enter.

Students must submit a student permission form along with their essay or artwork.

Essays will be judged on understanding of the topic, original thinking, effectiveness in presenting a personal point of view, literary style, grammar and spelling. Undergraduate and graduate/professional entries will be judged separately.

Art entries will be judged on how they evoke understanding on the part of the observer as to what civil rights issue or event or related message is being presented. Art entries may be submitted with an up to 250-word introduction.

A $500 award will be given to the:

  • Best undergraduate student essay
  • Best graduate/professional student essay
  • Best undergraduate student art entry
  • Best graduate/professional student art entry

Honorable Mention awards of $100 will be given in some categories.

An awards ceremony will be held in Feburary, during which all entries will be on display. The presentation will precede the UI signature event Shades of Black.

Winners are expected to attend, and all entrants are invited. All entries will be on display at the event.

More details coming soon.

2016 Winners

The winner in each category receives $500, and each honorable mention submission receives $100.

Undergraduate Art

  • Winner: Hunter Van Bramer (“I Am”)
  • Honorable Mention: Molly Pittman (“Death Unites Us”), Abby Johnson (“A Right to Humanity is a Bridge . . . Love Letter”), Jessica Bovee (“Struggle”)

Undergraduate Essay

  • Winner: Leanna Keleher (“Choosing to be an Ally”)
  • Honorable Mention: Izaiah AB Dolezal (“The Ever-Looming Reality”), Ivan Mucyo Ngabo (“Finding a Way Forward in the Past”)

Graduate Art

  • Honorable Mention: Caleb Parker (Equ[ALL]ity)
  • There was no winner in this category.

Graduate Essay

  • Winner: Maria Florentina Mejia (“¡Viva la RevolucioĢn! Long Live the Revolution”)
  • Honorable Mention: Evy Sotelo (“Indulging the Diversity of Beautiful Minds”)

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Erin James, Chair

Mailing Address: