#MarchOn – National Liberty Museum Announces Selma Speech & Essay Contest

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President Lyndon B. Johnson moves to shake hands with Dr. Martin Luther King at the signing of the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965. Photo credit: LBJ Library photo by Yoichi Okamoto
President Lyndon B. Johnson moves to shake hands with Dr. Martin Luther King at the signing of the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965. Photo credit: LBJ Library photo by Yoichi Okamoto

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Selma civil rights march, a movement guided by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. along the 54-mile highway from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. This display of courage and determination by King and his followers led President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act into law on August 6, 1965, which changed the course of the history of the United States. The story of this powerful movement is being brought to life in an upcoming film titled Selma, which highlights the three months leading up to the Selma march as it has never been told. The film portrays King as both a hero and a citizen who used his voice to advance voting rights for all Americans.

Inspired by the release of Selma, the National Liberty Museum has announced the Selma Speech & Essay Contest to engage US high school students in thinking, writing, and speaking about relevant, current issues of individual freedom and self-determination in the US today. Funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the contest aims to inspire students to think about and appreciate their Constitutional rights, the preciousness of our freedoms, and how contributing to our democracy is the responsibility of all US citizens.

At the age of 15, King won a high school public speaking competition about African Americans and the US Constitution. The Selma Speech & Essay Contest invites young people to use the power of voice, just as King did, to express what they think of individual freedom with these questions: What do you think needs to be done today to protect individual freedom and self-determination? What are you doing or will you do to peacefully advance those rights?

The contest is open between December 25, 2014 and January 30,2015 to all US high school students ages 14-18 and a $5,000 grand prize will be awarded. To view the guidelines or to enter, visit www.libertymuseumselmacontest.org.

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