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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Art, Writing & Multimedia Contest

photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission is pleased to hold an annual statewide Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Art, Writing & Multimedia Contest.  This contest is intended to encourage students to reflect upon Dr. King’s life, philosophy, and impact on the Civil Rights movement and present day America. It is meant to challenge students to think about how civil rights and diversity affect their lives and how they can continue the work of Dr. King in their own way.

All Ohio students in grades 6-12 are invited to enter this contest and may submit one (1) entry per student.  Students may choose which type of entry they wish to submit.  All contest entries must be accompanied by a clearly written official entry form, completed in its entirety. (Submissions are not considered without a completed entry form).


Photos from 2017 MLK Ceremony
2017 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Contest

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission is excited to announce winners of our 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Art, Writing, and Multimedia Contest! This year's theme is "Driving out Hate." 

One of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s basic beliefs was that love should be at the center of all of his work as a community leader. The nonviolent protests he led during the Civil Rights Movement came from the idea that violence and destruction would not change the hearts and minds of others. Still, Dr. King knew that it is challenging to show love and kindness to people who only show you anger and hatred. He believed that a person must look beyond the bad things they see in their enemies and try to find common ground and shared interest to heal wounds and create a community and country that treat all people equally.

Contest Entries:

In his book, Strength to Love, Dr. King discusses the challenges and importance of loving your enemy, even when they do not love you back. He said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love

Think about times in your life when you have witnessed hatred and intolerance. What things have you done to drive out hate?

The 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Art, Writing and Multimedia Contest winners are as follows:

Art Winners:

6th Grade Art: Ramona Loy Whiteker - Dominion Middle School, Columbus
7th Grade Art: Brayden Courtney - Arlington Local School, Arlington
8th Grade Art: Gabriella Kellogg - Highland Middle School, Marengo
9th Grade Art: Megan Fultz - Jackson Milton High School, North Jackson
10th Grade Art: Madisen Kleinmann - Lakota East High School, Liberty Township
11th Grade Art: Megan Cercone - Dover High School, Dover
12th Grade Art: Kierra Davis - Lakota East High School, Liberty Township 

Writing Winners:

6th Grade Writing: Anna Tedford - Harmon Middle School, Pickerington
7th Grade Writing: Michael Watters - St. Michael School, Canton
8th Grade Writing: Owen Conway - North Olmsted Middle School, North Olmsted
9th Grade Writing: Kalila Wilson - Washington High School, Washington Court House
10th Grade Writing: Mira DeAnthony - Mt. Nortre Dame High School, Cincinnati
11th Grade Writing: Cloey Spry - Van Wert High School, Van Wert
12th Grade Writing (tie): Isabel Wang - Shaker Heights High School, Shaker Heights
12th Grade Writing (tie): Martha Reifenberg - Ursuline Academy, Blue Ash

Multimedia Winners:

Multimedia (tie): Carson Barry - Waggoner Road Junior High School, Reynoldsburg
Multimedia (tie): Sophia Marcum - Springfield High School, Akron
                             Marissa Fuller - Springfield High School, Akron

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission, along with co-sponsors Honda, PNC, and Wright State University, honored contest winners at an awards ceremony in Columbus on March 2, 2017. Questions? Call us at (888) 278-7101


Excellence in Teaching Diversity Award

The winners of the 2017 Excellence in Teaching Diversity Award are:

 Jody Pettiford
Mills Lawn School
Yellow Springs, OH

James Casale
Shaker Heights High School
Shaker Heights, OH 

The Excellence in Teaching Diversity Award
is given to an Ohio grade 6-12 teacher who demonstrates exemplary dedication to diversity and teaching the lessons of civil rights in the classroom. Any individual may nominate a teacher and a teacher may nominate himself/herself.

Award Description:

Each recipient of these awards will receive an honorary certificate, a small gift, and recognition at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Art, Writing and Multimedia Contest awards ceremony.


•  The nominee must be a current or former grade 6-12 teacher at an Ohio school.

Selection Criteria:

Award selection criteria include, but are not limited to:

•  The nominee’s consistent practice of celebrating diversity with students, colleagues, and community members;
•  The nominee’s ability to incorporate the lessons and tenants of the civil rights movement and Ohio’s civil rights laws into the classroom;
•  The nominee’s positive impact on students, particularly in the promotion of academic excellence and community engagement;
•  The nominee's leadership and communication skills;
•  The nominee’s respect and recognition by his/her peers as one who goes above and beyond the normal expectations of a teacher.

Selection Process: 

Nominations will be reviewed by the staff and Commissioners of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. The Commissioners will select the winner based on the above criteria. Awards will be announced in January 2017.

Nomination Process: 

Nominators can respond directly to the questions on the following pages or attach a nomination in letter form. Please limit nomination letters to two typed pages. Nomination forms become the property of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and may be shared with the public and the nominee.

Although nomination questions are geared toward older children and adults, we do encourage input from young nominators as well – feel free to attach young student nominations to the completed form.

2017 Deadline: 

Nominations may be emailed by 11:59 pm on November 27, 2016, or may be mailed to the following address. Mailed nominations must be postmarked by November 25, 2016.

Ohio Civil Rights Commission

Attn: PACE

30 E. Broad St., 5th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

Click here for the Excellence in Teaching Diversity nomination form