2017 MLK Reflection Competition Guidelines

The MLK Reflection Competition seeks poetry, short stories, art, photography, music, and media as well as essays. First and Second place winners will be chosen from the categories of Written and Non-Written expression, and the awarding of Honorable Mentions will be at the discretion of the judges. All winners will be invited to read from and discuss their work at the reception and celebration at Kelvin Smith Library on the Case Western Reserve University campus, which will take place on Friday, February 24th from 4:00-6:00pm. The reception and celebration are open to the community, so please come support our artists.

If you are interested in participating but do not have time to submit work for the competition, please consider volunteering to help at the reception or serve as a judge. We will need student, staff, and faculty/administrators from both CWRU and Tri-C to help judge, along with volunteers to help set up displays and chairs for the reception and to take things down after. Please send a note indicating your interest in judging or volunteering to MLK-Contest@case.edu by January 15, 2017.

For questions, please contact:


Guidelines for Written Reflections:

For ALL written submissions, please use a readable 12pt font in either Word (.doc or .docx) or .pdf format. Essays should be double-spaced with 1″ margins. With all submissions, please include:

  • your name
  • which prompt you used
  • your institution (CWRU or Tri-C+campus)
  • whether you are a student, faculty/administrator, or staff.

All submissions must be emailed to MLK-Contest@case.edu by February 1, 2017 at 5pm.

Essays, interviews, and short stories:

  • Essays, interviews, and short stories (including flash fiction) can be from 500–1,500 words, not to exceed six (6) pages in length.



  • All forms of poetry are welcome, including slam and choreopoems. For the latter, you may submit a video or audio recording of your performance, although a text needs to be submitted as well. Poetry submissions may include one to three poems, with no more than two pages per poem or 60 lines in total. For slam and choreopoems, video submissions may not exceed five minutes in duration and/or five pages in written length. Single poems and short forms such as haiku are welcome.
  • All work will remain the sole property of the artist.


Guidelines for Non-Written Reflections:

For ALL non-written submissions, please include a brief text that states:

  • your name
  • the title of the work
  • which prompt you used
  • your institution (CWRU or Tri-C+campus)
  • whether you are a student, faculty/administrator or staff.

You are welcome to include a short description of the work and your intent, although it is not required. All submissions must be emailed to MLK-Contest@case.edu by February 1, 2017 at 5pm.

Art and photography:

  • Artists and photographers may submit up to three pieces, which may be three individual images or part of a series. All submissions for art and photography must be digital to facilitate judging. Submissions should be in .jpg or .tiff format of a minimum 300dpi/1800px wide each, not to exceed 25MB in size. We will display the original for paintings, drawings, sculptures, and other non-digital art forms, and contribute to having prints made for photography.
  • All work will remain the sole property of the artist.


  • Video submissions may include narrative film, interviews, montages, mashups, and music videos of original material. Videos should be no more than three to five minutes in length and must include a brief text describing the project.
  • All work will remain the sole property of the artist.


2017 MLK Reflection Competition Prompts

Using one of the prompts below, please reflect on how Dr. King’s message continues to impact our current movements towards civil rights. You may focus on how those movements and issues relate specifically to Cleveland, the nation, or the world. Submissions are also encouraged to consider how Dr. King’s work and message can be extended to all aspects of human diversity and identity, including LGBTQIA+, ability, socioeconomic class, gender, and particularly how those identities intersect.


Prompt #1:

  • Speech given by Dr. King on July 28, 1967 at a discount store parking lot at East 105th Street and St. Clair Avenue: “Don’t let anybody make you feel you are nobody.” Watch the Prompt #1 video here.


Prompt #2:

  • This is a compilation of images, short speeches and interview segments featuring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in Cleveland 1963 and 1965. Watch the Prompt #2 video here.
  • The quotes for the prompt are in the first 3 minutes of the clip, and you may reflect on one or both for your response. If you find another quote or image from the compilation you would like to use, identify where it is in the clip and provide the quote or summation of the image.
    • Quote #1: “Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…”
    • Quote #2: Begin at 1:21 and end at 2:11. His speech begins with “Throughout scientific and technological genius, we’ve made of this world a neighborhood… And now, through our moral and ethical commitment, we must make of it a brotherhood. The time has come when we must all learn to live together as brothers, or all perish together as fools.”


Prompt #3:

  • This quotation: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”
    • Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1958): 40.


Prompt #4:

  • Two stories about one of Dr. King’s visits from the Cleveland Plain Dealer can be seen here (May 14, 1963) and here (May 15, 1963). Please choose one of the stories as your prompt, although you may reference the other one since they are connected. You may also use the accompanying images in the second story as part of your response.