Essay and Visual Art contest for grades K-12

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Contest

2024 Contest Materials (pdf)


The Missouri NEA Human Rights Committee is sponsoring the 2024 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay and Visual Art Contest for K-12 public school students. The theme for the 2024 contest is "Leadership and Service." Students are being asked to reflect on the qualities of leadership and service that were exemplified by Dr. King, and how they can apply those qualities to their own lives. 

Winners are determined in six categories based on grade level.

  • Grades K-2 and 3-5: Written essay with a poster
  • Grades 6-8 and 9-12: Written essay
  • Grades 6-8 and 9-12: Visual Art (spoken word, poem, song, drawing/digital media)

 A certificate and gift card is awarded to each first-place ($75), second-place ($50), and third-place ($30) winner in the five categories. The teachers of winning students will receive one $30 gift card. 

An MNEA-affiliated local association must host the initial contest and submit first-, second-, and third-place winning posters in any or all of the six categories (up to 18 entries per local association). Entries must meet all the qualifying criteria to be judged at the state level. See the informational packet for details. 

Entries achieving finalist status should then be mailed or hand-delivered to Missouri NEA Headquarters, Attn: Roxane Bly, 1810 E Elm Street, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

All final entries must be received by MNEA no later than Jan. 15. Late entries will not be judged.

Contest winners will be announced at the Spring MNEA Representative Assembly. Winners will receive certificates and gift cards soon thereafter. 

Questions? Contact Lisa Blaha, MNEA UniServ Director at or (636) 614-7501, Roxane Bly at or (573) 644-9606.

2024 Contest Materials (pdf)