Art and Essay Contest

Each year a topic concerning human rights is chosen with grade-specific contest parameters.  The information below is provided for the 2017 contest.



Sponsored by Latah County Human Rights Task Force (

This year’s focus is Environmental Justice. As Martin Luther King, Jr. understood, living in a healthy and safe environment is a human and civil right. When he was assassinated, King was in Memphis supporting striking sanitation workers who handled toxic waste.  Poor people and minority peoples have often been subjected to environmental injustices.  Environmental Justice is the struggle for equal protection and a healthy environment for all. 


Essay and art will be due by 4 p.m Tuesday, Jan. 17. Contest winners will be honored at the annual M.L. King Day Breakfast, Jan. 21 and receive a $25 gift certificate to Bookpeople. For more information and to have essays picked up, contact Walter Hesford (208-882-4599; or mail to Latah County Human Rights Task Force, Box 8613, Moscow, ID 83843

Please be sure to write your name and home phone on the back of your entries so we can contact the winners. 

Elementary school: Grades 1-5

Essay: Many children of the world do not have clean water, even in the United States, even in Idaho. Write a letter to UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Emergence Fund), or the Governor of Idaho explaining why children need clean water. Ask for help or suggest ways to make clean water available for everyone.

Art/Poetry: Create a poster, collage or drawing or write a poem showing the sources of clean water and children from around the world enjoying clean water in many ways.


Middle school and Grades 6-8

“In a sense all life is inter-related. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Martin Luther King Jr.

Essay (400-500 words): Reflect on this statement and give specific examples of people working together to help the environment, then discuss how by protecting the environment we are also protecting everyone’s human rights.

Art/Poetry: Create a poster, picture or collage, or write a poem highlighting the importance of working together to protect the environment.


High school

By undermining or degrading humanity, we also undermine or degrade our ability to protect the environment.”   Martin Luther King Jr.

Examples: An American-based chemical plant explodes in Bhopal, India, killing thousands; Toxic and contaminated waste is shipped to Haiti and other poor countries, or dumped near poor and powerless people in America; Hazardous waste on the Hanford Nuclear Site threatens the homeland of the Nez Perce; Migrant workers are poisoned by pesticides sprayed on the crops they are picking; Sewage contaminates the water of Syringa Mobile Home Park, Moscow, Idaho.

Essay (600-700 word): These are some examples of environmental problems compounded by environmental injustice. Describe a specific environmental problem faced by a global, national, or local group of people then offer what you think would be a possible solution for it. Include a list of your sources (Possible resources: EPA Environmental Justice Website; the Indigenous Environmental Network; websites on lead in water, disposal of hazardous waste, global warming, etc).

Art/Poetry/Video: Create a poster, collage or a video portraying the struggle for environmental justice or write a song or poem about it.