BLACK HISTORY ESSAY CONTEST

BHE 5.png
BHE 6.png

2022 Guidelines

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., San Diego Alumnae Chapter

Black History Essay Contest

2022 Guidelines

 

 

Essay Theme

Service in Action: Legislation and Legislators that Improved the Lives of African Americans

 

Grade-Level Essay Prompts

 

Elementary (3 - 5):           After reading at least two sources about legislation (a law) or a legislator (an elected official), develop an essay that supports your claim that the law or legislator improved the lives of African Americans.

 

Middle School (6-8):        After reading at least three sources about legislation (a law) or a legislator (an elected official), develop an essay that supports your claim that the law or legislator improved the lives of African Americans.

 

High School (9-12):          After reading at least four sources about legislation (a law) or a legislator (an elected official), develop a digital essay that supports your claim that the law or ordinance improved the lives of African Americans. Your essay MUST include at least one counterclaim

 

Digital Essays

This year, we are introducing the digital essay format. A digital essay is a “visual communication piece that reflects the author’s engagement with the topic and engages others.” Digital essays are meant to be read on screen rather than on the page so participants may use software, such as PowerPoint or Prezi to submit a presentation on the legislation or legislator of their choosing.

 

Participants should use the digital essay format to display photos and other graphics alongside text to better engage an audience. This is a great opportunity to be creative with interesting backgrounds, visuals, and transitions between slides. Participants should still focus on their writing, which ultimately conveys the arguments made in the presentation.  

 

Participants may choose to submit a traditional written essay or a digital essay. See below for guidelines on both.

 

Click here for examples of digital essays. 

 

Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement should explore the significance of legislation or a legislator that has improved the lives of African Americans. To satisfy this requirement, you may choose to write about a specific law that improved African Americans’ lives or you may choose to write about an African American legislator who improved African Americans’ lives through their service in an elected office.  

 

 In your essay, you must explain how the legislation or the elected official improved the lives of African Americans in one or more of the following ways:

  • Environment

  • Culture

  • Health

  • Housing

  • Business Development/Economics

  • Behavior

  • Educational Attainment 

  • Job Attainment

  • Civic participation (such as voting)

 

Sample Thesis Statements

  1. The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 will improve the lives of African Americans by requiring funding to support black mothers so that they have healthy babies and remain healthy throughout their pregnancies.

  2. Senator Holly Mitchell improved the lives of African Americans by putting an end to hair discrimination in the state of California through the CROWN Act, a law that prohibits discrimination based on hair texture and styles like braids, locs, twists, and bantu knots.

 

What Must Be Included in Your Essay

  1. Provide the problems that existed that made the piece of legislation or legislator important. Include the context of what was happening in the country at the time the legislation was passed or the time the legislator was elected.

  2. Describe the ways that the piece of legislation or legislator improved the lives of Black people. Did the legislation or legislator help to prevent discrimination? Did they help to improve health? Did they help people to get jobs, vote, or go to school? Include all the ways the legislation or legislation helped improve the lives of African Americans.

  3. If possible, describe the effects the legislation or legislator had on its community. Include any statistics about how many people’s lives improved or any other information you can find about the effects of the law or person.

  4. Provide a description of how the legislation or legislator affects you personally. You may include the reason you chose your topic, how it has made you feel, or what you will do differently now that you know more. You must include this personal statement. It is mandatory.

  5.  If you are in high school, you must also include one counter-argument. Why were people opposed to the legislation or to the person you chose to highlight? What were their arguments? What is your response to those arguments?

 

Examples of Topics

 

Legislation

  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • The Land Ordinance of 1784

  • H.R. 55 - Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act

  • CROWN Act of 2020

Legislators 

  • Shirley Chisolm

  • Dr. Shirley Weber

  • Kamala Harris

  • Cory Booker

  • Hiram Revels

 

Submission Guidelines

  • All essays must include a Cover Page with:

    • Name and Grade

    • School and Teacher(s)

    • Participant’s email address, if applicable

    • Home address, including zip code

    • Parent/Guardian’s name, phone number, and email address

  • All presentations must also include a Title Page with the name of the presentation.

  • Text must be in Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman and at least 12 point font. The font of the title page may vary.

  • All writing must be in your own words. No copying from text unless it is a direct quote or otherwise necessary to support an argument.

  • Participants must include a Bibliography with all sources listed (at least two sources for elementary school students, three sources for middle school students, and four sources for high school students). 

  • Participants must attach the “THINKSHEET” (see below)

  • High school students must have at least one counterclaim. A counterclaim is an opinion that rebuts yours. Please address the counterclaim in your presentation.  

Digital Essay Requirements:

  • All submission guidelines apply

  • Elementary students must submit at least five slides. Middle school participants must submit at least ten slides. High school participants must submit at least fifteen slides. The title page and cover page are not included in the slide count.

  • Elementary school participants must have between 100 - 200 words in the presentation. Middle school participants must have between 200 – 300 words in the presentation. High school participants must have 300 – 500 words in the presentation.

  • All entries must be made using PowerPoint or Prezi. Other software may be accepted upon request. Presentations must be submitted as a PDF file unless provision has been made to submit in a different format.

 

 Traditional Written Essay Requirements:

  • All submission guidelines apply

  • All entries must be typewritten, double-spaced, and 1 inch margins all around

  • Elementary students must submit 300 - 500 words. Middle school students must submit 500 - 800 words. High school students must submit 800 - 1,000 words.

 

 

Important Dates

 

January 14, 2022              

THINKSHEET due

Email To: sdac.infoandcomm@gmaill.com

 

January 31, 2022              

Digital Essay Due

Email PDF File To: sdac.infoandcomm@gmail.com

 

February 1 – 14, 2022     Scoring Period

 

February 18, 2022            Email Notifications sent to all Participants and Parents

 

February 20, 2022            Virtual Reception Rehearsal

 

February 27, 2022            Virtual Reception and Award Announcements