Civil Rights Today Essay Contest
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law by President Johnson, is considered one of the most sweeping civil rights reforms since Reconstruction. The act guaranteed freedom and rights for all Americans. Because of his strong personal belief that every man, woman, and child should have an equal opportunity to succeed in the United States, President Johnson utilized the full weight of his political power to push the Civil Rights Act through Congress.
As we continue to work towards universal equality, people of all ages, genders, classes and races are affected. The LBJ Foundation invites 12th grade students in Texas to explore the enduring issue of civil rights as it impacts them or those around them in the 2014 "Civil Rights Today" Essay Contest.
"We're pleased to provide students with an opportunity to reflect on the relevance of Civil Rights in the new millennium,” said Larry Temple, Chairman of the LBJ Board of Trustees. “We hope that this essay contest will inspire many conversations about the importance of equal rights for all Americans."
$2,500 First place award, plus airfare and accommodations for the winner and his/her parent to attend one day of the LBJ Presidential Library Civil Rights Summit in April 2014
$1,000 Second place award
$1,000 Award to first place winner’s sponsoring teacher, plus airfare and accommodations to attend one day of the LBJ Presidential Library Civil Rights Summit in April 2014
The winners and three finalists will each receive a copy of The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963-1969, by Lyndon Baines Johnson. All contest participants will receive a Certificate of Participation.
The topic of the essay is "Civil Rights Today." Civil rights are personal rights guaranteed and protected by the U.S. Constitution and federal laws enacted by Congress, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Civil rights include, for example:
- freedom of speech
- the right to vote
- due process of law
- equal protection under the laws
- protection from unlawful discrimination
Issues related to civil rights include health care, religion and belief, voting, housing, employment, gender equality, immigration, racial justice, domestic violence, public accommodations, gay rights, Americans with disabilities, and others.
For this contest, essays must articulate (1) how civil rights remains an enduring issue in society, and (2) one aspect of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that impacts the writer’s life today.
Eligibility and requirements:
The contest is open to 12th grade Texas students attending public, private, parochial, or home schools. Students must include the name of their nominating teacher on the registration form. Complete information about the contest can be found here.
We have prepared lesson plans and a list of primary sources for teachers and students. They are available here.
Essays must be submitted via email by midnight on February 10, 2014. Click here to register and submit your essay.
Winners will be contacted by telephone and in writing by March 10, 2014. All students will be notified of their status by the end of April.
Criteria for judging:
Representatives of the sponsoring organizations will read and evaluate essays based on the following criteria:
- Understanding of the topic
- Original thinking relative to the topic
- Effectiveness in presenting a personal point of view
- Literary style, grammar, and spelling
The 2014 "Civil Rights Today" Essay Contest is co-sponsored by the LBJ Presidential Library, the LBJ Foundation, The University of Texas at Austin College of Education, and the LBJ School of Public Affairs.