Essay Contest Flyer.jpg

Black Arts Movement Essay Contest for Middle and High School Students!


The essay will be on Toni Morrison's 2015 piece for The New Yorker entitled, "Sweetness." Winners for both the middle school and high school categories will each win a $100 Visa gift card. Runner ups for each category will receive a $50 Visa gift card.



The contest starts on Monday, November 9th and ends on Monday, November 30th. Toni Morrison's short story, "Sweetness," can be found here. Applicants must submit a cover page, essay, and student verification letter.


Cover Page

Your cover page should be in pdf format and MUST include the below:

1. Full Name
2. Birth Date
3. Mobile Phone Number
4. Home Address
5. Email
6. Name of Middle School or High School
7. Middle School or High School Address
8. Grade Level


Applicant Certification

Your applicant certification should state:
I have read and understood the instructions.
I am eligible to apply for this contest under the criteria.
All information contained in this application is true and correct.

  • Applicants must sign this certification

  • Applicants must include the date of submission



Your essay should be between 450 and 500 words, submitted in a PDF format. The applicant's name should be at the top of the page. There are separate essay prompts for middle school students and high school students. Grammar, creative thinking, and analytical comprehension will be weighed heavily in scoring. 

For High Schoolers: How does the history of colorism in Black America impact Sweetness and Lula Ann? How does Sweetness's inability to love herself affect the way she treats Lula Ann specifically. Describe a time when you struggled with self love and detail how you overcame it. 

For Middle Schoolers: Why do you think Sweetness does not like Lula Ann's skin color? How can you embrace the skin you're in?


Student Verification

All applicants must submit proof of their student status through one of the following:

  • A scanned photocopy of their student ID, or

  • A pdf print out from the school's student portal with the name of the school and student on the same page, or

  • A signed, enrollment verification letter from the school receptionist, or other school administrator.

This is to verify that you are indeed a current student. 


CLICK HERE to submit your essay and required documents.



For any contest questions, please email: Thank you and good luck!

TBO Newsletter: Special HBCU Edition


Supply List

  • standard size or king size pillowcase

  • 1/4 inch-wide elastic

    • two 6 inch strips

  • double-fold bias tape

    • two 38-inch lengths​

  • thread

  • sewing machine

  • straight pins

  • scissors

  • tape measure

  • safety pin

  • optional: lace, ribbon, or rick rack for trim

Please refer to the illustrated instructions below to view the pattern and identify placement of materials

Pillowcase Dress Instructional Video