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 Eighteenth Annual Black History Month Essay Contest 

Sponsored by the Human Relations Council of the Greater Hemet, San Jacinto and Menifee Region 

Nonprofit Tax Exempt ID #33-0803034 

Contest is open to all middle school, high school and college students in the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley and the Menifee Valley. 

Essay Topic and Format: 

Celebrating Black History in the United States began in 1926, when Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard Ph.D., initiated "Negro History Week." Dr. Woodson, a historian, chose the second week in February because it included the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, the Bicentennial (200th birthday) of the U.S.A., the week‐long observance was extended to the entire month of February in order to have enough time for celebratory programs and activities. 


As the United States celebrates National Black History Month in February, your task is to pick a person of color who illustrates the triumph of the human spirit over circumstances and prejudice in order to build a life of accomplishment. 

This year, the Theme of Black History Month is “Black Health and Wellness”. This theme acknowledges the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. So pick your person from the very large list of people of color who work in the health and wellness fields. 

Don't be afraid to "think outside of the box". 

Any essays that do not follow the contest guidelines will be eliminated before judging. 

Write your essay as an Historical Fiction: 

Imagine yourself living at the time of your chosen person and being acquainted with him/her. You might be his/her child, parent, friend, boss or even an adversary. Write about him/her from your unique point of view. 

Make sure that your essay includes the answers to the following questions: 

1. Who is the person about whom you want to write? 

2. When did he/she live? 

3. What did your chosen person do to “triumph over circumstances and prejudice to build a life of accomplishment”? 


Contest Rules: 

The length of the essay (essays too short or too long will be eliminated from judging): 

  • • Middle School (grades 6 through 8) 300 to 500 words 

  • • High School (grades 9 through 12) 500 to 1000 words 

  • • College (Undergraduate only) 1000 to 2000 words 


Home‐schooled and Charter School students are also encouraged to enter – please call 951‐634-4048 for entry details. 

Plagiarism (copying from the Internet or someone else’s essay) is strictly forbidden. If you copy, you will be disqualified from the contest. You may 

insert a small quote from someone else’s work, but you must state who said it and where you found it. 

The deadline for submission of the essay is 5:00 PM on Monday, February 18, 2022. Please submit by email to Attach your essay to your email. If it is not possible to submit by email, please call Mary Morse at (951) 634-4048 for an alternate submission method. 

Make sure that each essay has the name of the student, home telephone number, 

his/her school, student phone number and email address. 

Also please include name of your school, your teacher or counselor, 

and your teacher or counselor contact phone number, as well as an email address. 

All entries will become the property of the Human Relations Council of the Greater Hemet, San Jacinto and Menifee Region. Sending your entry into the contest grants permission for Human Relations Council to release any essay to the press or publish it on our website or social media for publication. 

Contest Judging: 

The judges will not know any of the students’ names or schools while they are judging. Students will be judged on their ability to address the topic, to demonstrate original, creative thinking, and to express their ideas in a clear, articulate manner. There is also an award for the best presentation which will be judged prior to the awards announcement. 

The judges’ panel will be comprised of Human Relations Council members and other community members who are experts in Black History, long‐time participants in the Civil Rights movement, sociologists, and/or educators. 

Contest Prizes: 

Winning students only will be asked to present their essays virtually. You will be notified by phone or email if you are one of the winners and if you need to record your presentation to send to us. 

High School: 

1 Best High School essay $100 

1 Runner‐up High School essay $50 

3 Honorable Mentions $25 each 

1 Best Presentation $50 

Middle School: 

1 Best Middle School essay $100 

1 Runner‐up Middle School essay $50 

3 Honorable Mentions $25 each 

1 Best Presentation $50 


1 Best College essay $100 

1 Runner‐up College essay $50 

3 Honorable Mentions $25 each 

1 Best Presentation $50 

Awards will be announced virtually along with recorded presentations of the winning essays at 6:00 pm on Friday, March 4, 2022. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Mary Morse at (951) 634-4048 or email

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