Carnegie Mellon University

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards invites entries from all currently enrolled high school and college students in the Greater Pittsburgh area, as well as remote CMU locations. Submissions are due on Sunday, November 24, 2019.

Established in 1999 by Jim Daniels, Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor of English, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards seeks poetry and prose submissions dealing with individual experiences of racial, cultural, and other forms of difference, as well as personal reflections on Dr. King's legacy that rely on concrete detail.

We believe barriers break down as we learn each other's stories. In the process, 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 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards provides a common ground for all these communities. 

Winners of the contest read to an audience of hundreds at Carnegie Mellon University during an annual celebration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In addition, a book of the award-winning works is published and distributed at the event. The online archive of these books is meant to keep the discussion alive by making the writing accessible to an even larger audience. Past prize-winning works are featured in the books below, starting with the current year. The top prize winners in each category receive cash prizes.

View submission guidelines, tips for writing compelling entries, and submit your work here. 

Learn more about the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards in this video:

Media Coverage

Watch Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards Founder and Director Jim Daniels talk about the awards and hear CMU students Joyce Wang and Joss Green and Pittsburgh CAPA students Ilan Magnani and Madison Katarski discuss their 2019 award-winning entries on KDKA-TV Pittsburgh Today Live.

Read an interview with Jim Daniels about the origins of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards and his experience in a writing class with James Baldwin in Poets & Writers.

Read the Mayoral Proclamation that acknowledges the special role of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards in the City of Pittsburgh.

View the video of the 2019 20th Anniversity Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards celebration:

 

Donate

Please consider donating to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards. Your support will help us continue these important conversations about differences of all types. 

 Make a gift. 

Contact

If you have any questions, please email us at: MLKWriting@andrew.cmu.edu