To view and read the submissions of the three finalists and the nine honorable mention winners, click on their names. Additional information about the contest can be found below.
Edan Armas, Grade 12, Lake Park High School, Roselle, Illinois, adult sponsor Youla Simos
Ifeoma White-Thorpe, Grade 10, Morris Hills High School, Rockaway, NJ, adult sponsor Dr. Carol Gill
Evan Lehmann, Grade 12, Parkway North H.S., St. Louis, Missouri, adult sponsor LuAnn Fallahi
Ashley Chico, Grade 10, Lake Highland Preparatory School, Orlando, Florida, adult sponsor Cece Scott
Ethan Davis, Grade 12, East Chapel Hill High School, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, adult sponsor Patricia Berge
Jonathan Johnson, Grade 12, Home-schooled, Irvington, NJ, adult sponsor Tracye Johnson
Layla Kousari, Grade 12, Parkway North High School, St. Louis, Missouri, adult sponsor LuAnn Fallahi
Madeline Kujabi, Grade 10, Bishop Grimes Junior/Senior High School, Syracuse, NY, adult sponsor Marni Nolan
Giana Moreno, Grade 11, Trinity High School, River Forest, Illinois, adult sponsor Margaret McNair
Brandon Oppong-Antwi, Grade 12, Eastern York High School, Wrightsville, PA, adult sponsor Natali Monaghan
Danielle Sanders, Grade 11, Pelham High School, Pelham, Alabama, adult sponsor Connie Hayes Nolen
Maxwell Turk, Grade 10, Northview High School, Johns Creek, Georgia, adult sponsor Camillie Janess
The National Liberty Museum launched the Selma Contest in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Selma march for voting rights led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in conjunction with the release of SELMA in January 2015, which high school students were required to see before submitting an entry. The purpose of the Contest was to empower students to speak up about their constitutional rights, the preciousness of our freedoms and how contributing to our democracy is the responsibility of all US Citizens. Students had to answer this question in their own, original speech and essay: “The movie Selma tells the story of how Martin Luther King, Jr. and others peacefully protested to advance voting rights. What do you think needs to be done today to protect individual freedom and self-determination? What are you doing or will do to peacefully advance those rights?”
At the age of 15, a young Martin Luther King, Jr. entered a high school public speaking competition with his submission called, “The Negro and the Constitution.” He was in his junior year, and he won the competition. On the bus ride home, young King and his three companions were told to give up their seats to a white couple who had just boarded the bus, and they stood for several hours on their way back to Atlanta.
It has been widely written that the high school speech Dr. King wrote inspired his “I Have a Dream” oration, since all of the concepts in his competition submission were encapsulated into the historic 1963 speech. There are striking parallels between the two writings.
The Museum received nearly 800 submissions from high school students of all different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and points of view. Entries were submitted from 43 states, as well as Washington, D.C., the Virgin Islands, Guam and military bases abroad. Each of the entrants took the Contest topic seriously, and every young person who participated is a winner. “It’s incredibly moving to see how passionate these students from all walks of life are about using the power of their voice. What they have accomplished here has given us great hope for the future of the United States.” Gwen Borowsky, CEO, National Liberty Museum.
We were also overwhelmed by all of the different individuals and organizations that spread the word about our contest, including many state departments of education, school districts, youth and service organizations and education associations across the country, SELMA Director Ave DuVernay, John Legend, Quincy Jones, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, Ian Somerhalder, Norman Lear, The Ford Foundation, VolunTEEN Nation, Bono’s organization (ONE), State Farm, MTV, and Google+.
The Selma Contest captured national attention and received more than 1.6 million media impressions from outlets across the country.
The finalists were chosen by an impressive panel of judges, including:
The Contest had planned to award three top winners and seven national finalists. The nominations were so impressive the finalists were increased to nine. The prizes are as follows:
Our cutting-edge Professional Development Workshops give educators the tools and educational resources they need to succeed. Registration for the first workshop on Saturday, October 21 is now CLOSED. The second workshop, on Saturday, November 18, is still accepting registrations. Learn more and register today.
The National Liberty Museum is proud to launch the inaugural Healthcare Heroes Awards, presented by Teva Pharmaceuticals. This international awards program recognizes inspirational heroes in healthcare research and treatment whose accomplishments have profoundly benefited their patients, their field, and the global community. The program will present an award to an outstanding honoree in four categories. The nomination deadline is November 3. Learn more.
The Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) is dedicated to providing the insights of scholarship on foreign policy and national security challenges facing the United States. The National Liberty Museum is hosting a series of FPRI lectures throughout the fall. The next lecture is on November 7. It is a Templeton Lecture on the role of the Orthodox Church in the conflict in Ukraine. Reservations are required. Learn more.