[LBJ Library photo by Yoichi Okamoto, A1030-19a.]

LBJ Foundation Announces Student Essay, Documentary Contest

Nov 10, 2014

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

"This right to vote is the basic right without which all others are meaningless." - President Lyndon Johnson

CONTACT: Anne Wheeler
LBJ Presidential Library
[email protected]
(512) 721-0216

AUSTIN, Texas – The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 as a result of the widespread disenfranchisement of countless Americans who were denied the right to vote based on their race, gender, or class. The Act guarantees the freedom and protection of every citizen's fundamental right to vote. Because of his strong personal beliefs that every American should have an equal opportunity to succeed and have a voice in government, President Lyndon Johnson used the full weight of his political power to push the Voting Rights Act through Congress. As a result of this momentous law, there have been several U. S. Supreme Court cases that both strengthened and weakened the Voting Rights Act.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of this groundbreaking legislation, the LBJ Foundation announces the 2015 "Voting Rights Today" Essay and Documentary Contest. The competition is open to all 12th grade Texas students attending public, private, charter, parochial, and home schools. The first-place winners for essay and documentary will receive $2,500 and travel expenses to the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, to attend an award ceremony in April 2015. The winners' sponsoring teacher will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and will also be awarded travel expenses and accommodations to attend the April award event. The second-place winners will receive a cash prize of $1,000.

Last year's first place essay winner was Nick Dauphine, who was a senior at Claudia Taylor Johnson High School in San Antonio. "As a result of my participation in this contest, I was surprised to realize that civil rights is still a huge topic in America. Students should create submissions for this contest not only because it holds a great opportunity for a scholarship, but also because you can actually learn a lot of interesting historical facts."

Either by writing an essay or creating a documentary, students have an opportunity to express their personal experiences while providing historical context. Topics are: how voting rights remains an enduring issue in society, and one aspect of the Voting Rights Act that impacts their life today. Submissions will be accepted beginning January 1, 2015, with a deadline of midnight January 26, 2015.

"As we continue to debate universal equality, people of all ages, genders, classes, and race are impacted." said Larry Temple, Chairman of the LBJ Foundation Board of Directors. "We hope that this contest will inspire students to critically discuss the importance of equal rights and opportunities for all Americans."

The contest is co-sponsored by the LBJ Presidential Library, The University of Texas at Austin College of Education/Social Studies Program, and the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

More information is available on the LBJ Library website, http://www.lbjlibrary.org.

About the LBJ Foundation:
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports the LBJ Presidential Library and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. Through the fundraising efforts of its Board of Trustees, the Foundation provides support to the Library that enhances quality programming, expands educational outreach and exhibits, and administers grants for researchers and scholars.