This summer, EJI dedicated a marker to commemorate lynchings in Letohatchee, Alabama, and the corresponding essay contest was open to high school students living in or attending school in Lowndes County, Alabama.
The first place prize of $3000 was awarded to Central High School 10th grader Yamiri B. Mants (pictured) for his essay, "Things Remain the Same."
Kiara Coleman, a 10th grader at the Calhoun School, won second place ($1500) for her essay, "Annette Butler, Oscar Grant." Third place ($1000) went to Central High School senior Mercedes Rudolph for her essay, "The Rape of Annette Butler." And Calhoun School students Trinity Whiting and Arianna Armstrong tied for fourth place ($500 each).
Last year, EJI awarded $6000 in scholarships to the four winners of the 2015 Racial Justice Essay Contest in Brighton, Alabama. The contest was part of EJI's racial history project, and the award ceremony followed EJI's dedication of an historical marker in Brighton that documents the lynching of William Miller.
Hueytown High School students Brieonna Collins and Layla Tatum tied for first place, and were each awarded a $2250 scholarship. Ms. Collins, a junior, wrote about the Chicago riots of 1919. "It made me feel like my ancestors fought a lot for me," she told WVTM-13 News. Ms. Tatum, a senior, wrote about the lynching of three black men in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1920. Both read their essays at the award ceremony.
The third place prize of $1000 went to Tayzha Parrish, a senior at Hueytown High, who wrote about the murder of civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson by an Alabama state trooper in 1965. Carmen Knight, a senior at Pleasant Grove High School, won fourth place and received $500 for her essay about the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
Since Mobilizing Ideas began, we have quickly covered a lot of interesting topics by featuring a new essay dialogue theme each month. This strategy is good for keeping the content fresh, but the downside is that there is less time for contributors to engage and respond to one another in meaningful dialogue. So, we are now featuring each essay dialogue topic for two months instead of one, with some essays posted at the beginning of the first month and another group in the second month. We are asking contributors to the second round to weave some reactions to points raised in the previous posts into their original insights on the topic. Contributors to the first round of essays for the Racist Movements topic certainly offered a lot of great material for this kind of exchange, and the authors for round 2 have picked up on some of those threads and have extended the discussion in important ways. We hope you enjoy these new contributions on this important topic:
Amy Kate Bailey, University of Illinois, Chicago (essay)
Maya Beasley, University of Connecticut (essay)
David Cunningham, Brandeis University (essay)
Jenny Irons, Hamilton College (essay)
Pete Simi, University of Nebraska, Omaha (essay)