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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.

University of Idaho Third Annual MLK Art and Essay Contest

Call for Submissions

“By undermining or degrading humanity, we also undermine or degrade our ability to protect the environment.” Martin Luther King Jr

To recognize the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., University of Idaho undergraduates, graduates and professional students enrolled for the Spring 2017 semester are invited to write a short essay or create an artistic piece in the medium of their choice.

This year’s focus is Environmental Justice. As Martin Luther King, Jr. understood, living in a healthy and safe environment is a human and civil right. When he was assassinated, King was in Memphis supporting striking sanitation workers who handled toxic waste. Poor people and minority peoples have often been subjected to environmental injustices. Environmental Justice is the struggle for equal protection and a healthy environment for all.

Examples: An American-based chemical plant explodes in Bhopal, India, killing thousands; toxic and contaminated waste is shipped to Haiti and other poor countries, or dumped near poor and powerless people in America; hazardous waste on the Hanford Nuclear Site threatens the homeland of the Nez Perce; migrant workers are poisoned by pesticides sprayed on the crops they are picking; sewage contaminates the water of Syringa Mobile Home Park, Moscow, Idaho.

Essay (600-700 word)

These are some examples of environmental problems compounded by environmental injustice. Describe a specific environmental problem faced by a global, national, or local group of people then offer what you think would be a possible solution for it. Include a list of your sources (Possible resources: EPA Environmental Justice Website; the Indigenous Environmental Network; websites on lead in water, disposal of hazardous waste, global warming, etc.).

Art/Creative Writing/Video

Create a poster, collage or a video portraying the struggle for environmental justice or write a song, poem or short story about it.


By 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, submit physical copies of art to:

College of Law
Dean’s Office
Menard Law, Room 101

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 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 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.

Saturday, Feb. 11, 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.

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”)

Contact Us

S.J. Jung, Chair

Mailing Address: