The Arkansas Peace & Justice Memorial Movement (APJMM) works in conjunction with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to memorialize the 493 documented and known victims of racialized terror lynching in the State of Arkansas by placing a historical marker at the location of where they were lynched.  One of the key features of each remembrance ceremonies is the APJMM/EJI Racial Justice Essay Contest where we invite public and charter high school students in the county where the lynching took place to write about the history of structural injustice in Arkansas and connect that history to the present.

In October 2023, we will memorialize Homer G. Blackwell in the Argenta Historic District in downtown North Little Rock.  As part of the ceremony, we plan to have the first, second and third place winners of the contest to read their essay publicly in front of the crowd during the historical marker installation ceremony before an EJI representative issues scholarship award checks totaling $5000 to those winners.


Qualified participants in the APJMM/EJI Racial Justice Essay Contest will:

  • be a rising 9th – 12th grade student attending a public or charter high school located in Pulaski County,
  • attend at least two 1-hour virtual essay contest writing workshops during the 2023 Summer Break,
  • submit a first draft essay no later than midnight on July 16th, and
  • submit a final draft essay no later than midnight on September 3rd.

The winning essays will ideally be:

  • 3-6 doubled-spaced pages long, not including a required title page and a references page in APA-7 format with a minimum of three citations (one is required to be the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture),
  • written to either highlight the work of one of the historical figures listed on the APJMM Anti-Lynching Shoulders Upon Which We Stand page and/or discuss the facts of a little known historical event in Arkansas history that demonstrates an example of racial injustice (excluding the already very well-publicized 1957 Crisis at Little Rock Central High School),
  • written with the intention of connecting the past to the present to show that there is a connection from which all Arkansans can learn about issues of racial injustice in an informed manner, and
  • written to offer suggestions on how young people today might be able to successfully challenge the present-day issue of racial injustice discussed.

*** Participants are permitted, but are not required, to write about any of the 493 documented and known victims of racialized terror lynching in the State of Arkansas. ***

APJMM will offer bi-weekly essay contest writing workshops via Zoom on alternating Wednesday evenings where participants can meet with a writing coach who will offer FREE essay writing assistance.  The workshops will begin on June 21st.


Send any questions, comments, or suggestions to essaycontest@APJMM.org.