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High school students responding to this year’s writing contest should write an essay of no more than 1,200 words using the following writing prompts:

In Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Dr. King wrote in response to Alabama clergyman who criticized the King-led non-violent demonstrations for freedom and justice as "unwise and untimely." The leaders urged King to pursue the resolution of racial matters in the courts, and not in the streets. Dr. King wrote:

I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. . . Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

Do you think Dr. King's words still hold true today? Can you give some examples of unjust laws that exist in your local community that also affect the nation as a whole or our increasingly global society? Do you believe these issues can be resolved through non-violent action/civil disobedience, or should they be resolved through the courts or some other means? Please explain.

See contest rules below for complete details and submission requirements. If this is your first essay contest experience, please click on Writing Tips to the right.

SOURCES OF INFORMATION: In preparation for writing, students should conduct scholarly research from a variety of sources, and may also draw from their own personal knowledge. Primary and secondary source material could include: historical and reference material, interviews, personal experiences, oral testimonies, official documents, diaries, letters, autobiographies, newspapers, academic journals, films and television movies, CD-ROM, and Internet sources.   


High school seniors in Atlanta, Decatur, Fulton County and DeKalb County public school systems.  Students must be U.S. citizens to be eligible to participate. Students who are interested in a legal career are strongly encouraged to participate.   


The following scholarships will be awarded to winning essayists:

1st Place:   College Scholarship of $3,000.
2nd Place:  College Scholarship of $2,000.
3rd Place:   College Scholarship of $1,000.

Entry Deadline is March 8, 2013:


IT IS IMPORTANT TO READ ALL OF THE CONTEST RULES. Entries that do not adhere strictly to these rules and guidelines will not be judged.

SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS: Students MUST submit their essays by U.S. Postal Service (or other delivery company). Entries must be postmarked by March 8, 2013 and addressed to:

Dream Essay Contest
c/o Lura Battle
Holland & Knight LLP
1201 W. Peachtree St, NW, Ste. 2000
Atlanta, GA 30309.

TWO copies of the essay must be included in your envelope, along with a completed Entry Form. 

REFERENCES REQUIRED: Every essay must include a Bibliography, Work Cited, or Reference Page.

WORD COUNT: Essays should comprise no more than 1,200 words. When conducting your word count, DO NOT include words contained in your Bibliography, Works Cited, or Reference page.

LANGUAGE: Essays must be in English.

YOUR NAME: Please do not include your name anywhere on any page of your essay, other than the title page, if you have one. When you mail your essay, make sure it includes your entry form with your name on it and clip or staple the entry page to one copy of the two copies of your essay. 

RESEARCH: While this is a creative writing project, research must be an integral element of the writing process and essays must contain a Bibliography, Works Cited or Reference Page, citing all materials used in the research and writing of the essay (parenthetical documentation must accompany research).

ESSAY FORMAT: The essay must be in prose format and may be a commentary or interpretation of primary and secondary source material such as: historical and reference materials; interviews; eyewitness accounts and oral histories; official documents and other primary sources; readings from diaries, letters, autobiographies, and works of poetry; video, or audiotapes, films, art, CD-ROM and Internet sources. The essay must not be a fictitious story or poem. The essay must be primarily directed toward examining the writing prompt.

JUDGING: Entries will be judged anonymously and will not be returned to students. Submissions that adhere to the guidelines will be judged with special attention to (1) evidence of relevant reading and thoughtful use of resource materials; (2) treatment of the assigned themes; and (3) clear and effective language, mechanics and grammar; and a coherent plan of organization.

AUTHOR OF ESSAY: Each essay must be the work of one student and may not be the collective work of more than one student. By submitting an essay, applicants are certifying that their essays are original, authored solely by them, and that in writing their essays, they did not plagiarize or otherwise infringe upon the rights of any third parties.

TEACHERS: It is not necessary for a student to have a sponsoring teacher in order to enter this essay contest. However, high school teachers are encouraged to inspire their students to participate. 

CERTIFICATES OF PARTICIPATION: Certificates of Participation will be e-mailed to all entrants who provide an e-mail address on their entry form.

NOTIFICATION OF WINNERS: Winners will be notified of contest results and winning essays will be posted on our Web Site in April 2013.

SCHOLARSHIPS: Scholarships will be paid to each student's post-secondary educational institution after the student has graduated from high school and upon Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation's receipt of a copy of the student's registration paperwork from said post-secondary educational institution.

POSTING ESSAYS: All essays submitted may be used or published in whole or in part by the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation or by other parties with its written permission. The Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation reserves the right not to publish any essay it deems inappropriate for any reason.

MOST UNLIKELY… The Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation reserves the right not to award a prize or any prizes when submissions do not meet contest standards or criteria.

For more information, e-mail questions (not essays) to lura.battle@hklaw.com



The King Center web site includes invaluable resources to become informed about Dr. King and the ongoing efforts to fulfill his great dream for America. 

The Civil Rights Museum offers an inter-active "Before the Boycott" educational tool, and tracks the path of civil rights in America, to the present. 

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is another rich source for researching the life of Martin Luther King.  Searching for his name at the web site will bring up testimonies of those who knew him, and will also provide detail into his life and works. 

The King Institute at Stanford University offers a wealth of resources for students, including the King on-line encyclopedia.

Full Text of "I Have A Dream" speech.

Full Text of "The Drum Major Instinct" speech. 

Also, Consult your local school or public library for its own collection of sources. 

Our Phone Number:  Toll-free: 1-866-452-2737


Entry deadline is March 8, 2013. Submit essays by mail - see official contest rules (below, left) for more details.


2011 Dream Scholarship Award Ceremony


2009 Dream Scholarship Award Ceremony


2008 Dream Scholarship Award Ceremony.