Black History Month art and essay contest open for student submissions | Education

Throughout February, Coconino County’s African Diaspora Advisory Council (ADAC) will be managing an art and essay contest for Black History Month. K-12 students in the county can submit projects inspired by Black health and wellness through Thursday, Feb. 20.

The council chose Black health and wellness based on the national theme, which is chosen each year by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, said Deborah Harris, ADAC member and president of the Southside Community Association.

The essay contest has been an annual event in Flagstaff for several years now.

“We wanted to try to provide an opportunity, especially for young people to learn about Black history and culture,” Harris said. “…Not a lot’s happening in the schools. They tend not to talk a lot about anything other than slavery and Martin Luther King Jr., so it’s kind of depressing. You want people to learn about parts of the culture other than the negatives.”

This year’s essay prompt asks students to choose a Black healthcare hero or heroine and “share why you admire them.” It includes links to websites about Black medical pioneers and a detailed rubric showing how essays will be judged in the categories of content, clarity, structure and creativity.

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The art contest’s prompt is to create a piece that either represents the theme or celebrates a Black healthcare pioneer. These will be judged on a scale of one to four based on design, creativity, effort and skill. The artwork can be “in any style you choose.”

“I’m really anxious to see what kinds of things they come up with and how they interpret the word ‘art,’ because it could be visual, it could be auditory. Art encompasses so much,” Harris said.

Essays can be typed or legibly handwritten, and must be 500 words or less. Art entries can be submitted in physical form or as photographs. According to a flyer announcing the contest, “each entry must have a cover sheet that includes title/topic, student name, address and phone number along with the name of your school (if applicable) and grade.”

Submissions should be sent to the African American Diaspora Advisory Council care of Susie Garretson at sgarretson@coconino.az.gov.



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The hope is for the contest to end with an in-person reception at the Murdoch Community Center, but if COVID-19 metrics are too high, Harris said, they plan to host a virtual event instead. Either way, the event will take place Feb. 27 and feature readings from the winning entrants as well as performances including a singer and a monologue on Black history.

Harris asked people to participate in the month’s events “where you can.” She is part of an effort to coordinate this year’s Black History Month events so they overlap as little as possible. These include both in-person and virtual events from a number of local organizations and can be found on the Murdoch Center’s Facebook page.

More about the contest, including rubrics and a sample cover page, can be found at coconino.az.gov/93/African-Diaspora-Advisory-Council.



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