URI invites college & high school students to participate in essay contest

Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 401-874-2116

URI invites college & high school students to participate in Brown v. Board of Education essay contest

KINGSTON, R.I. — November 20, 2003 — The University of Rhode Island’s Department of African and African-American Studies invites high school and college students to participate in its first annual essay contest. The essay topic is: “Fifty Years After the Brown vs. Board of Education Decision: Racial Progress or Stagnation?” Submission deadline is Jan. 12, 2004.

In May of 1954, the United States Supreme Court handed down the famous Brown decision on the illegality of segregated schools in America with the following words: “We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been

brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment . . . We have now announced that such segregation is a denial of the equal protection of the laws.”

With this decision, American race relations were altered dramatically. The court provided the nation with the most significant legal decision of the 20th century. Its consequences had an immediate impact on interracial interaction, especially in the Deep South.

Americans in the 21st century have lived with the Brown decision as the law of the land for 50 years. Yet, the debate about its role and purpose in American life remains a vital part of the nation’s discourse. Issues such as affirmative action, busing, charter schools, and school vouchers have become potent discussion points regarding quality and fairness in American educational institutions.

Essay Guidelines

Essays must be typed and double-spaced. Essays will be judged in two divisions: a high school division and a college division. High School students’ essays must be 500 words in length. College students’ essays must be 1,500 words in length. The essays should contain a cover page with the author’s name, address, and phone number if possible.

Essays should be sent to ESSAY CONTEST, Department of African and African-American Studies, University of Rhode Island, Roosevelt Hall, Kingston, R.I. 02881.

A panel of scholars will judge the essays for originality, style, and grammar. Winners in each division will be awarded the following cash prizes: First Place, $100, Second Place, $75, Third Place, $50.