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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Literary and Visual Arts Contest

Arlington Public Schools students are invited to take part in the annual “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Literary and Visual Contest.”


Entries are due by 5 p.m. Wednesday, January 3, 2024. 

Martin Luther King Jr.

This Year’s Topic

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a phenomenal leader who played a pivotal role in the American civil rights movement. His leadership was marked by intelligence, self-confidence, and determination. He recognized that many before him had paved the way for him to take up the fight for freedom and equality.


Choose one of Dr. King’s leadership traits (listed below) that means the most to you. Describe in writing or through visual art why the trait matters to you and how it makes a difference in your school, community or society as a whole.

Courage and Determination: Dr. King demonstrated exceptional courage and determination in the face of adversity. He was unwavering in his commitment to nonviolent protest and civil disobedience, even in the face of violence and threats. His determination played a crucial role in the success of the civil rights movement.

Inspiring Oratory Skills: Dr. King was a gifted and charismatic speaker. His speeches, including the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, are remembered for their passion and ability to inspire people to take action. His words continue to resonate and inspire generations.

Empathy and Compassion: Dr. King’s leadership was characterized by a deep sense of empathy and compassion. He advocated for equality and justice for all, promoting a message of love and unity that transcended racial and social divides.

Leadership: Dr. King was not only a moral leader but also a strategic one. He employed nonviolent resistance as a strategic tool to bring attention to the unjust and discriminatory practices of the time. His approach was instrumental in achieving significant legislative changes, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.



  • You must be a resident of Arlington County or enrolled in APS.
  • You must be in grade Kindergarten through 12.


Two awards will be given in each group:

  • Grades K, 1 and 2
  • Grades 3, 4, 5
  • Grades 6, 7, 8
  • Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

Each group will have two first-place winners and two runners-up in each category: Literary Arts Achievement (Writing or Poetry) and Visual Arts Achievement.

Winners will be announced on Monday, January 8, 2024. Students will be recognized by the Superintendent and members of the School Board on Thursday, Jan. 25 at the beginning of the School Board meeting.


  • Email your entry to mlkentries@apsva.us; include the form information, and the essay or poem as an attachment.


  • Drop off your entry with the entry form attached at the Syphax building’s 1st floor Welcome Center, 2110 Washington Blvd., or at your school’s front office.

For more information please contact Dawn Smith, Volunteer, Partnership and Events Manager, at 703-228-2581 or at mlkentries@apsva.us .