Students can win $17K in NAACP essay contest on DeKalb lynching marker

Hanging steel monuments dangle like bodies above visitors at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala. The names of lynching victims are inscribed on the monuments, each representing a county in the United States where a lynching occurred. (Contributed by Equal Justice Initiative)
Hanging steel monuments dangle like bodies above visitors at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala. The names of lynching victims are inscribed on the monuments, each representing a county in the United States where a lynching occurred. (Contributed by Equal Justice Initiative)

Before DeKalb County installs a marker recognizing victims of lynching, the groups that pushed for the marker hope to inspire local students to reflect on its significance.

The local branch of the NAACP, in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative, is holding essay contests for high school and college students with scholarship prizes totaling up to $17,000. The winners will be announced at the dedication ceremony for the marker on March 29.

Just over a year ago, DeKalb County commissioners approved the placement of a historical marker in honor of lynching victims in Decatur Square. The racist lynchings of four black men have been documented in DeKalb, but the marker honors unknown victims as well.

DeKalb County is the first in Metro Atlanta to officially partner with the Equal Justice Initiative in recognizing the lynchings that took place in the county. The NAACP is leading an effort to organize a week of events in September that are book-ended by the unveiling of two lynching markers, an EJI lynching monument is also in the works. Video by RYON HORNE and TIA MITCHELL

Organizers are hosting separate essay contests for high school and college students. The high school contest is open to DeKalb public school students in 9th to 12th grade; the guidelines can be found on the website for the Montgomery, Ala.-based Equal Justice Initiative. Winning participants will receive prizes totaling $7,000.

Students at the DeKalb campuses of Agnes Scott College, Emory University, Georgia Piedmont College, Georgia State University, Oglethorpe University and Mercer University are eligible for the college essay contest, which has prizes totaling up to $10,000. Guidelines can be found on NAACP DeKalb's website.

The deadline for both contests is March 15. Organizers did not say how many winners will be selected.

The initiative is part of the DeKalb Remembrance Project, which was started by local members of the NAACP shortly after they returned from a 2018 trip to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery.

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