The Martin Luther King Jr. Awards-Department of English - Carnegie Mellon University

The Martin Luther King Jr. Awards

Jim Daniels, Director of the Creative Writing Program, established the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards in 1999. The program builds on Daniels’ commitment to writing about race. (He edited "Letters to America: Contemporary American Poetry on Race.") In 2001, the event expanded to include a separate category for Carnegie Mellon students, working on the premise that the voices of college students, and their varying experiences, could and should interact with the young voices from the Pittsburgh community.

2013 MLK Award Winners

2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Award Winners, watch the video of hightlights from the awards

The contest guidelines specifically request personal narratives on race. We believe that if we learn each other's stories, the barriers begin to break down. We begin to see each other as individual human beings, struggling the way we all must, to live good lives and treat each other decently. We are all parts of different communities, and we reach out and cross over in strange, often surprising ways. The King Writing Awards provides a common ground for all these communities. As part of the University’s day-long schedule of panel discussions and performing arts presentations, the winners of this contest read in the University Center’s main lecture hall to an audience of hundreds.

In addition, each year, a book of award winners' work is published and distributed at the event. This archive of those books is meant to keep the discussion going by making this writing accessible to an even larger audience. Past winners and their work are listed in the award booklets below, starting with the current year. Please click on the program from the year you wish to see to download the booklet in PDF format.

Read submissions that received honorable mention in 2014.
Read submissions that received honorable mention in 2013.

MLK 2014



MLK 2012 Booklet


MLK 2011 Booklet


MLK 2010 booklet