2014 – 2015 Essay Contest Topic

RTIEL Youth Leadership Essay Contest Topic

2014 – 2015

On Sunday, March 8, 2015, the 50th re-enactment of the Bloody Sunday March will take place on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. For the past 49 years, civil rights activists, politicians, and concerned citizens have trekked to Selma, Alabama. They publicly demonstrate their support for the civil rights movement by taking the same steps as the 600 marchers in 1965 – from the Brown Chapel AME Church to the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge – re-enacting the events of the Bloody Sunday March.

John Lewis, a Congressman from Georgia, was one of the leaders of the Selma-to-Montgomery march. He was 25 years of age when he participated in the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama on Sunday, March 7, 1965 and had his skull fractured at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday. Because Congressman Lewis was an integral part of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches and has dedicated his life to fighting for equality and civil rights, he is the subject of this year’s essay contest topic.

Essay Contest Topic:

For this year’s essay contest, conducting research on the lifetime achievements of Congressman John Lewis will be necessary as your essay will be a letter addressed to Congressman Lewis. In your letter, you will comment on the legacy of Mr. Lewis’ civil rights activism by: 1) commenting on his participation in the voting rights marches and Bloody Sunday, 2) discussing how Mr. Lewis’ participation in these events has affected you and the citizens of this country, and 3) commenting on the significance of re-enacting the Bloody Sunday March on an annual basis.

 Relevant website links:





Be sure to take note of the following specific points:

  • Entries will only be accepted electronically. Essays should be submitted by sending an email with the essay as an attachment to essaycontest@rtiel.org by the contest deadline. You will receive a confirmation email that your essay was received. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please send an email message to info@rtiel.org to inquire about your entry.
  • There is no entry fee.
  • Please use Times New Roman/12 point font to write your paper. The document should be written in a software program such as Microsoft Word.
  • Type your essay entry in English, free from spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.
  • Double-space your entire essay, and maintain one inch margins—top, bottom, right, and left.
  • Create a header on each page, top right, that includes your essay identification number (which you will receive once you have completed the online registration) and the page number.
  • Place your essay title on the first page, top center.
  • Address the essay topic in 750 to 1,500 words.
  • Report the number of words used in your essay at the end of your essay text, prior to the bibliography or works cited page.
  • The word count does not include the bibliography or works cited page, nor works cited in footnotes, if footnotes are used.
  • To obtain your essay’s word count without the number of words used in the bibliography or works cited, highlight your essay text only, go to the computer word-count tool (under “Tools” on the computer tool bar), and the word-count tool will read only the highlighted words.
  • Although the documents cited above should be each contestant’s primary sources, it does not necessarily have to be the student’s only source.  Additional sources of researched information, aside from the documentary, are not required.  However, if desired, Contest participants may cite other sources in their essays.
  • All entries must follow acceptable standards regarding attribution of direct quotations, paraphrases, and ideas of others, using endnotes or in-text citations.  Standardized citations and a bibliography or works cited page are required to identify all research sources.
  • Once an entry is submitted it cannot be changed, altered or modified.
  • All registration and entry information submitted becomes the property of the Sponsor and will not be returned.
  • By entering, student entrants agree to the Official Terms and Conditions of the Contest and to the decisions from the Sponsor, which will be final and binding on all matters relating to this Contest.

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