Carnegie Mellon University

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards


Honest. Daring. Eloquent young voices.

Since 1999, Carnegie Mellon University's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards has provided an outlet for young people to express their personal experiences with difference and discrimination of all kinds through poetry and prose. The mission of the awards is to create a safe and creative haven for sharing difficult stories in the belief that the process of writing itself can help break down barriers of difference in our lives. The awards are open to all high school and college students in western Pennsylvania and all Carnegie Mellon campuses.

Read the press release for the 2020 awards competition here. 

View our informational video and explore the links below for tips on writing and submitting your entries, access to twenty years' of prizewinning work, and details on our activities. 

“It is consoling beyond words to witness these young writers wrestling with the realities of race, and bringing solid thought and well-wrought language to bear upon that process... This is the mortar that will mend of nation's spirit. These are the minds and hearts to whom I feel safe entrusting our collective future.”
- Tracy K. Smith, Poet Laureate of the United States, 2017-2019

Many of our prizewinners have made writing and social justice a part of their adult lives and careers. Here is a sample of their work.

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