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MLK Art & Writing 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 poem, or create an artistic piece in the medium of their choice in response to a prompt about economic justice.

Throughout his life, Martin Luther King, Jr. strove for economic justice and an end to poverty. In the last year of his life he promoted a Poor Peoples’ March to bring attention to the condition of those who lacked life’s basic needs and to suggest ways for us to improve their economic welfare. This year, our art and writing contest draws attention to this aspect of King’s work.

"The curse of poverty has no justification in our age…The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, indirect and immediate abolition of poverty…The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by…the guaranteed national income.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.


Respond to the above quote by Dr. King, Jr. and create an essay, poetry or art piece that offers a solution or illustrates the struggle to end or alleviate poverty.

Essays, poetry and art are due by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28, but may be submitted any time before that. $500 scholarships will be awarded to winners and $100 scholarships will be awarded to honorable mentions. Winners will be announced at the keynote Black History Month event sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Black Student Union.

Essays and poetry should be submitted by email to Essays should be no longer than 1000 words.

Art should be submitted in person to Ian Leibbrandt at the Menard Law Building Administration Office, Room 101. Any form of art is accepted. Art will be displayed at the keynote Black History Month event and must be picked up from Ian in the Menard Law Building by Feb. 28, 2019.

All art and writing entries will be judged by Fugue readers and editors and esteemed faculty at the University of Idaho.

Past Art and Essay Contest Winners

Undergraduate Writing

  • 1st prize:  Izaiah Dolezal for his essay "Building a Resilient Community: from 'Me' to 'We'"
  • Honorable Mention: Emily Wesseling for her poem "Somewhere"
  • Honorable Mention: Ayomipo Kayode-Popoola for her poem "Color of My Soul"

Graduate Writing

  • 1st Prize:  Courtney Cooper for her essay "The Value of Relationship in Resilient Water Futures"
  • Honorable Mention:  Alex Sosa for his essay "Together We are Bound, Together We Are Resilient"


  • 1st Prize:  Megan Cosdon for her piece "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"
  • Honorable Mention: Alayne Chipman for "Fires of Opposition"
  • Honorable Mention:  Riley Hilel for "Slain by Sniper" 

Undergraduate Essay

  • Winner: Cruz Rodriguez
  • Honorable Mention: Danny Bugingo

Graduate Essay

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


  • Winner: Stacy Miller


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

Contact Us

Jan Johnson, Chair