Scholarship Contest!

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is pleased to announce a scholarship contest open to Etowah County high school students in grades 9-12 where prizes totaling $5,000 will be awarded to winning participants.

The scholarship contest coincides with EJI’s forthcoming dedication of a marker in Gadsden, Alabama. The marker will memorialize the brutal lynching of Mr. Bunk Richardson on February 11, 1906. Scholarship winners will be announced and recognized at an event unveiling the historical marker on December 13, 2016 in Gadsden.

The 2016 Racial Justice Essay Contest is open to all students in grades 9-12 living in or attending school in Etowah County, Alabama.

Guidelines for Entries 

The history of racial inequality and economic injustice in America has created continuing challenges for all Americans. The lives of African Americans have been profoundly impacted by the era of slavery, the era of racial terror that continued from the end of Reconstruction until World War II, the era of Jim Crow and racial apartheid that produced the civil rights movement, and the present-day era of mass incarceration. EJI believes that a deeper understanding about our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing contemporary questions of social justice and equality.

Students should review EJI’s 2016 A History of Racial Injustice calendar months of November and December and select one of the historical entries as a topic to write an essay of 750 words or less. Entries can focus on any event referenced in the calendar. The full-wall calendar includes hundreds of historical entries and twelve short essays highlighting historical events and issues in our nation’s racial history.

calendar_nov calendar_dec

Submission Details

Contestants should include the attached entry form and provide their name, home address, email address and telephone number. Entrants should provide the name of the school they attend, their grade level, title of the submission, historical event referenced and a word count. Submissions must not be longer than 750 words. Entries that are not the original work of the student will be disqualified.

Essays along with the application form must be submitted by Friday, December 2nd, 2016 via email to Jonathan Kubakundimana at the Equal Justice Initiative at or via mail to the following address:

Equal Justice Initiative
c/o Jonathan Kubakundimana
122 Commerce Street
Montgomery, AL 36104

Scholarship awards will total $5,000. Winners will be notified via phone or email, and receive their awards and scholarships at a historical marker dedication ceremony planned for December 13, 2016.

Entry Form and Parent/Legal Guardian Waiver Form: eji-2016-etowah-county-racial-justice-essay-contest


The Gadsden Reads 2016 selection is Just Mercy: A Story of Justice & Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machinations, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

JUST MERCY is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice.” (

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