Elon Law’s Antiracism Working Group announces Black History Month writing contest

The inaugural competition with a top prize of $200 for the winning essay prompts students to reflect on the current antiracism movement and what roles as future lawyers they have in the movement for equality and Black lives.

A new writing contest at Elon Law commemorates Black History Month by offering students an opportunity to share how they view their roles in the antiracism movement as future attorneys.

Organized by Elon Law’s Antiracism Working Group, “The Fire This Time” Competition is open to all currently enrolled Elon Law students. Essays must be the writer’s original, independent writing, and not previously published elsewhere.

The overall competition winner will receive $200, with $100 for second place and $50 for third place. Elon University’s Center for Writing Excellence is a co-sponsor of the contest.

Students have until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 19, to submit an essay of 800 words or less to the Elon Law Antiracism Moodle Page. Submissions must be in Word or PDF format and include the writer’s name, class year, and email address.

The prompt: “Reflecting on James Baldwin’s famous essay, ‘The Fire Next Time,’ an excerpt available here, and Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig’s op-ed ‘The Fire This Time,’ write an essay addressing the following questions: what does the current anti-racist movement mean to you? Are you hopeful or doubtful that the movement will produce real changes in our society? How do you think Black people will be impacted by this movement in the future? What role do you, as a future lawyer, play in the anti-racism movement, and how well do you think our legal system is equipped to meet the demands of movement activists?”

Submissions will be judged by a panel of attorneys, professors, and community activists. Judges will evaluate adherence to theme and response to the prompts, the ability to invoke a protest writing style similar to that found in Baldwin’s essay and Onwuachi-Willig’s opinion column, as well as clarity of writing and appropriate technical writing components.

“Students know they’re in law school and are here to learn the law, but especially for GenZ students, they need to connect what they’re learning with their passions,” said Assistant Professor Tiffany Atkins L’11, who teaches legal writing and is a member of the Antiracism Working Group. “So many students are passionate about social justice movements. This seems like a great way to connect those dots.”

The winning essays will be published on the law school’s website and may also be featured on the Center for Writing Excellence’s website.