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2021 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Essay Contest

The City of Dallas is pleased to announce the 2021 high school senior and college freshmen essay contest! The contest will award six scholarships up to $5,000 (per award) to graduating high school seniors or first-year students accepted into a college-level educational institution (two-year college, four-year college, or trade school).

Essay Contest Rules & Eligibility

  1. The 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest is open to; 1. High School Seniors attending a City of Dallas High School; and 2. First-Year students (must have a permanent address within the City of Dallas) accepted into a collegiate educational institution (two-year college, four- year college, or trade school). These Scholarships are to help defray the cost of tuition, books, room and board, etc. Winners will be formally recognized at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship & Awards Gala on Saturday, January 23, 2021.

  2. Submission Deadline: Thursday, December 31, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. via submission portal.

  3. One essay per student. Essays must be original, typed, and double-spaced; high school essays should not exceed 1,000 words and college essays should not exceed 1,500 words.

  4. The cover sheet must contain the student’s name, school, home/cellular phone number, address, and email address (do not include this information in the body of the essay).

  5. Essays will be judged based on organization, content, voice, creativity, and grammatical structure.

  6. Prior scholarship winners are ineligible to apply.

Essay Theme: “The Fierce Urgency of Now”

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963

Essay Prompt

Describe a social justice problem, concern, or issue you would like to solve as it relates to “The Fierce Urgency of Now.” It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance. Explain its significance to you and what steps you can take to identify a solution.

Incomplete applications WILL NOT be considered. Link to online application:

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