King Writing Contest

30th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Contest “Fair Play, Goodwill, and Justice”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man committed to peace, justice, and equality. In his efforts for civil rights, he emphasized the importance of determination to achieve freedom and human dignity. His driving forces were love, the importance of family, and self-respect.

In 1981, Milwaukee educators and involved citizens began the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing contest to celebrate and remember Dr. King’s legacy. The contest continues today through their efforts.

This year’s contest theme is Fair Play, Good Will and Justice  The writers may relate this theme to themselves or others in their family, school, neighborhood, or the world.


The writing contest is open to students in grades K-12 who live in the city of Milwaukee, or are enrolled in a school, either public or private, within the city of Milwaukee.

There are 7 grade level categories:

  • K-1:  group project only (no essays), reflecting children’s work and ideas
  • Grades 2-3: individual entries, maximum length 250 words
  • Grades 4-5: individual entries, maximum length 350 words
  • Grade 6: individual entries, maximum length 400 words
  • Grades 7-8: individual entries, maximum length 450 words
  • Grades 9-10: individual entries, maximum length 500 words
  • Grades 11-12: individual entries, maximum length 550 words.

Typed essays preferred. Handwritten submissions must be neat and legible. Only 1 side of the page may be used.

Entries must stay within word limitation for their grade level, otherwise the essay will be disqualified.


The entries will be judged on a point system, with the following criteria considered:

  • Entries must address the theme.

  • Entries should relate the student’s own personal ideas or experiences to the topic and show an understanding of Dr. King’s ideals.

  • Entries must not be a biographical sketch of Dr. King.

  • Entries will be judged on the basis of clearly expressed, creative ideas. In judging entries, emphasis will be placed on clarity, creativity, and originality. Correct usage of basic grammar and writing skills will also be considered.

Teachers are encouraged to help students understand the historical context of Dr. King’s words, see the relevance of these words in their world today and become familiar with Dr. King’s life and values.


Awards will be given at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. City-Wide Celebration on Sunday, January 20, 2013 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place writing contest winners will receive an engraved plaque and a prize valued up to $100 from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Entry Delivery Information

All entries must be submitted by Tuesday, November 13, 2012 by 5:00 p.m. at one of the following locations:


The original essay should be submitted. Entries will not be returned. Teachers may wish to make copies for their students prior to submission.  Entries submitted after 5:00 p.m., November 13, 2012, will not be considered for prizes.

NOTE:  Please do not send your entry to Milwaukee Public Schools Central Office.

Identifying Your Entries

To facilitate anonymity in judging, the student's name should not appear on the front of the essay.  The following information must be clearly printed or typed on the back of each entry:


  • Student’s full name (include middle initial)
  • Student’s grade level
  • Student’s phone number
  • Student’s address (including zip code)
  • School name
  • Teacher’s name

For each classroom packet of entries, attach a cover sheet (8.5 x 11) indicating the school, teacher’s name, grade level and a list of the students entering the contest.

Sponsors of the Writing Contest

The sponsors of the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Contest are:


  • The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA)
  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Please contact Donelle Johnson, Chairperson, at 414-445-5635 or the MTEA at 414-259-1990.

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