Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march on Washington, D.C. where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous, “I have a dream…” speech. Building upon Dr. King’s passion and leadership, the Governor’s Office of Minority Empowerment offers students a chance to creatively express ways to work together to generate opportunities to better themselves and society as a whole with art and essay contests.

Students should reflect on Dr. King’s legacy of service to explore innovative approaches to rise and reach desired goals. Entries should be inspired by a Dr. King moment or speech and how it has influenced the student’s thoughts on the theme: Opportunities to Rise: Building Bridges.


  • open to all Kentucky school students in grades 4-12
  • must be 500 words or less on standard 8-1/2” x  11” white paper with 1” margins, double spaced, and in no creative font      (Arial and or/New Times Roman are recommended).
  • Videos, films, drawings, etc. will not be accepted.
  • All  writing entries will be judged on the criteria listed in the Kentucky Writing Scoring Rubric: purpose, awareness of audience, idea development, organization (sentence structure and transitions), language, and correctness.
  • First, second and third place winners will be selected in categories for elementary (4th -5th grades), middle and high school. Each winner will receive a plaque for competing in this year’s contest.


  • All K-12 students are eligible to participate
  • Entries must be accompanied by completed work sample index.
  • If the return of the CD or DVD is desired, please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope in which the disk will fit.
  • All visual art and media entries will be judged on creativity and originality; artwork reflects a unique style or expression; artwork addresses the theme of the contest.  The selection will be based solely on the artwork; no written essay is required. 
  • First, second and third place winners will be selected in two-dimensional and media arts categories for elementary, middle and      high school.  Each winner will receive a plaque for competing in this year’s contest.

Entries must include:

  • Student’s name, address, and grade level
  • Parent’s name and home phone number
  • School district, school name, and school telephone number
  • Teacher’s name

Deadline: ALL entries must be received (not postmarked) in the Governor’s Office of Minority Empowerment no later than close of business on Friday, November 8, 2013. Students should mail or deliver entries to:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest –2014

700 Capitol Avenue, Suite 138

Frankfort, KY 40601

If you have any questions, please contact the Governor’s Office of Minority Empowerment at 502-564-2611, ext. 370 or

The Kentucky Civil Rights Database provided by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Oral History Commission may be used as an additional resource.