Carnegie Mellon University

Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards Celebration


What began as a forum for drawing students together to talk about discrimination and difference has evolved into a community-wide celebration.

With the support of M. Shernell Smith and Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Award celebration has become the centerpiece of the university's observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and an integral part of the Center's month-long focus on the life and legacy of Dr. King. Hundreds attend the event each year, which is free and open to the public. 

The annual celebration features readings by the top three winners in high school and college poetry and prose, along with musical performances and refreshments. Honorable mentions and the top entries of each participating school are also recognized. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a variety of formats will be explored for the 2021 celebration.

All are welcome.


The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards celebration is co-sponsored by the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, Department of English, and Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Support for the 2020 celebration was received from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Cohen & Grigsby, Hachette Book Group, and Champtires.

Prizewinner Julia Hou

Prizewinner Julia Hou

Prizewinner Feride Radzhapova and guests

Prizewinner Feride Radzhapova and guests

Provost Jim Garrett and student Myia A. Culbreath

Provost Jim Garrett with student Myia A. Culbreath (Dietrich College, History), who intoduced him at the celebration 

Family at the celebration

Audience members at the 2020 celebration

Musical Theater Ensemble Performance

Members of CMU's School of Drama Musical Theater Ensemble

Students at the celebration

Students at the 2020 celebration

Prizewinner Ella Enberg

Prizewinner Ella Engberg

Prizewinner Erezi Ogbo and guest

Prizewinner Erezi Ogbo and guest

Prizewinner Zoe Brunick and family

Prizewinner Zoe Brunick and family with Provost Jim Garrett (far left) and M. Shernell Smith, interim director of the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion (far right)

Audience members

Audience members at the 2020 celebration

Special drama award performance

Students perform Paloma Sierra's special drama award winning work, "YoUr EnGlisH iS sO GoOd"

Prizewinner Bryanna Luster

Prizewinner Bryanna Luster

Prizewinners Lily Weatherford-Brown and Greyson Scurco with family members

Prizewinners Lily Weatherford-Brown and Greyson Scurco and family members

Prizewinner Roderick Wilson, Jr. with family and friends

Prizewinner Roderick Wilson, Jr. with family and friends

2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration Audience

Audience at the conclusion of the 2020 celebration