MLK Essay Contest

As part of our celebration of Black History Month at Mississippi State University, the Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion, Holmes Cultural Diversity Center and the African American Studies Program are sponsoring the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Change essay writing contest.  This contest calls for papers from local area high school students in Starkville, West Point and Columbus that describe the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  These essays will examine Dr. King’s life of social activism and intellectual work as it relates to the challenge of racial reconciliation in our currently divided nation.  Students will be asked to complete and upload a 3-4 page essay that exemplifies the ideals of social justice espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The three winners will be awarded cash prizes and invited to campus for a special luncheon with Mississippi State University’s President, Dr. Mark Keenum. 

2019 MLK Essay Writing Prompt

The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of positive social change in the face of overwhelming opposition.  Dr. King dreamed of a better society in which his “four little children…will judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  While we remember those powerful words as the aspirational appeal of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, they were also indicative of the serve challenge we faced as a nation in 1963 when King spoke them.  That was then as it is now the challenge of seeing ourselves and others as human beings first. 

Write a paper that reflects on King’s legacy as it relates to our present moment in history.  What are some of the unique challenges we face today in realizing King’s “dream?”  How do we foster reconciliation in a society that is increasingly divided?


1st : $1000

2nd : $750

3rd : $500


  • Essay must be 3-4 pages in length (not to exceed 1000 words) and submitted as a pdf file
  • Only one entry per person
  • Essay must be written using your own original words, thoughts, and ideas. Any use of primary and secondary source material must be accompanied by proper citation.  Any submission that does not properly credit primary and secondary source material or shows evidence of plagiarism will be disqualified from the competition.
  • Open to 9-12 th graders in the following counties: Oktibbeha, Clay, Lowndes
  • Winners will attend a special recognition luncheon held at Mississippi State University 

Submission Form: