Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

“Ground Crew” Essay Contest

October 29, 2021 @ 11:30 pm - October 30, 2021 @ 12:00 am EDT


For more than half a century, the Civil Rights Movement has been remembered, in large part, by the narratives schools, media, and cultural institutions have promulgated with regards to the Movement’s icons. Dr. King and Rosa Parks often are at the center of those narratives, and for good reason. The struggle to secure the benefits of full citizenship for Black people in the United States, however, covers many more than just a paltry 14 years (1954-1968), and its foot soldiers number in the hundreds of thousands.

In ways both small and grand, everyday men, women and children began fighting for Black civil and human rights on the shores of Africa. They continued the fight on the ships that carried them to this country and, once here (during and after enslavement), they fought under circumstances few of us alive today could possibly imagine. And while so-called leaders always emerged, those elevated to positions of prominence would not have been able to carry out their work, much less sustain themselves, were it not for the determination, support, and guidance from those in their communities and across the nation.

We will never know all the names of the legions of courageous woman men, and children who fought for justice and equality for Black people in this country. We can, however, try to do so.

The Baton Foundation’s newly created essay contest, Ground Crew: Honoring Unknown Civil Rights Activists, challenges Atlanta youth to research and write about those unknown or lesser-known Black Americans. Now, and in years to come, the students’ essays will help us bring to the fore the names and stories of those whose lives were relegated to the blank pages of history.



The Baton Foundation Ground Crew Essay Contest is open to Atlanta students in grades 8-12. This applies equally to students in public schools, private and/or parochial schools, alternative schools and students who receive instruction at home. All entrants must live in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area (specifically, Clayton, Cobb, Dekalb, Douglas, Gwinnett, Henry, Fayette, & Fulton Counties). Students enrolled in The Baton Foundation’s Cultural Heritage Program and children of Baton Foundation board members may not participate.


  • The deadline to submit essays is Friday, October 29, 2021, at 11:59pm EDT (Late entries will not be accepted).
  • Submit essays to Anthony Knight (aknight@thebatonfoundation.org).
  • Typed essays should be a minimum of 700 words, but no more than 1100 words (citations and bibliography are not included in the total word count).
  • Entrants MUST create original work (without influence from or written by teachers, parents, siblings, mentors, etc.)
  • Well-known Civil Rights icons are not eligible subjects for essays (i.e., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Congressman John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ambassador Andrew Young, etc.). If in doubt, please contact us.
  • Essays must identify an unknown or lesser-known Black Civil Rights activist working during 1954-1968 (the year Dr. King was assassinated). The essay must address the person’s life before s/he became socially active, the event(s) that led to the individual’s active participation in the Civil Rights Movement, the specific way(s) in which that person’s work impacted her/his community, region, or nation; and the work in which the person was involved following Dr. King’s death.
  • Essays about well-known Civil Rights Movement leaders will be disqualified.

Source Materials

  • Essays must list at least 3 source materials.
  • All entrants must cite the source materials they use. Please use parenthetical citations (not footnotes) to reference source material.
  • Bibliographies must be included with each essay. Please use Kate A. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Terms Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.


  • The first-place winner will receive a $250 cash award and a copy of Kate Clifford Larson’s book, Walk With Me: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer (Oxford University Press, 2021). The winner will also participate as a speaker in a virtual public program with Ms. Larson and Baton Foundation president Anthony Knight on Sunday, December 5, 2021.
  • The second-place winner will receive $150 cash award and a copy of Kate Clifford Larson’s book, Walk With Me: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer (Oxford University Press, 2021).
  • First- and second-place winners will be notified on November 22, 2021.
  • First- and second-place winners will be announced via email to all entrants by November 29, 2021.

We respectfully ask that you not call The Baton Foundation for information regarding the status of your essay. Thank you.


October 29, 2021 @ 11:30 pm EDT
October 30, 2021 @ 12:00 am EDT
Event Category:

Pin It on Pinterest