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MLK Art & Essay Contest

To commemorate the life, work and 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.

Fifth Annual MLK Art and Essay Contest

Call for Submissions

"If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Resilience is the ability to adapt to and move beyond the effects of internal and external stressors, maintaining psychological wellbeing in the face of adversity. It is the unique ability to “bounce back” from difficult or traumatic experiences. Resilience is not an innate characteristic—it involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed. Resilience is about managing crises or stressful situations, turning divisions into opportunities for unity, and retaining strength of purpose. Being resilient is about recognizing and leveraging the strengths that perhaps we never knew we had, until we have to draw upon them. The more we practice, the more resilient we become.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a model of resilience, continually turning crises into opportunities for action, and bringing polarized groups together to work towards a common goal. Using the theme of resilience, write an essay, poem, or create an art piece that describes concrete strategies for creating and fostering resilient communities that are adaptable to change, promote common goals, and that ensure the wellbeing, safety, and inclusion of all.


Jan. 31, 2018 at 4:30 p.m.

Please submit physical copies of art to:
College of Law
Dean’s Office
Menard Law, Room 101

Please Submit Essays, Creative Writing and Videos to:
Jan Johnson at

All University of Idaho degree seeking undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled for the spring 2016 semester are invited to enter. All students wishing to enter the contest must submit a student permission form along with their essay/artwork.

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

Essays (600-700 words) 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, creative writing and video 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 scholarship 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 scholarships of $100 will be given in some categories.

Saturday, Feb. 10, 2017 in the Pitman Center International Ballroom

Awards presentation will precede the University of Idaho Signature Event: Shades of Black. Winners are expected to attend and all entrants eagerly invited. All entries will be on display at the event.

2017 Winners

MLK Essay - Undergraduate

  • Cruz Rodriguez - Winner
  • Danny Bugingo - Honorable Mention

MLK Essay - Graduate

  • Alexander Sosa - Co-winner
  • Ashley McDermott - Co-winner

MLK Poem

  • Stacy Miller - Winner


  • Geoffrey Dasher - Co-winner
  • Keegan Lawler - Co-winner
  • Kelli Fry - Honorable Mention

Contact Us

Jan Johnson, Chair

Mailing Address: