Annual MLK essay competition set for Feb. 16: More than $25K in scholarship money available

By Steve Thorpe

Legal News

The 21st Annual Martin Luther King Jr., Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Competition will be conducted at noon on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Selected 11th and 12th grade students from local schools will compete for more than $25,000 in scholarships. Students from 12 National Bar Association regions participate in the national competition, with Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee representing Region VI.

Every essay should address the key question: "If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., were alive today, what would his view be about the topic?"

This year's question for competitors is:

"Trayvon Martin was killed walking to his home on Feb. 26, 2012, by George Zimmerman, a Florida neighborhood watchman in a gated community. Some have justified Zimmerman's actions based on the Florida Stand Your Ground Law. If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive would he advocate the repeal of Florida Stand Your Ground Law and other similar laws?"

The National Bar Association's first annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Competition was held at its 75th Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., in 2000. The success of the program led it to be, in conjunction with the National Bar Institute, adopted as a national program.

The D. Augustus Straker Bar Association, the Wolverine Bar Association, and the Association of Black Judges of Michigan are among the local sponsors of the event.

The topics of the competition are always considered from the point of view of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and have included:

* Law enforcement treatment of persons of Arab descent and of the Muslim faith in terrorist investigations.

* The need for reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

* Recommendations for action on the 40th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Acts to address the continuing problem of voter disenfranchisement in minority communities.

* The treatment of juveniles in the criminal justice system.

The National Bar Association, through the National Bar Institute, has awarded more than $188,000 in scholarships since the program began.

The event is held annually in commemoration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and in observance of Black History Month. Admission is free and light refreshments will be served during the reception immediately following the program.

For additional information, contact co-chair Shawntane Williams at 248-436-2667, or co-chair Tenicia Vanzant at 313-410-1294.

Published: Mon, Jan 21, 2013