Community Remembrance Project sponsors essay contest for Baldwin students

Staff report
Posted 10/8/21

The Baldwin County Community Remembrance Project is holding an essay contest on racial injustice and its legacy today for all ninth through 12th graders attending Baldwin County public high …

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Community Remembrance Project sponsors essay contest for Baldwin students

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The Baldwin County Community Remembrance Project is holding an essay contest on racial injustice and its legacy today for all ninth through 12th graders attending Baldwin County public high schools.

The contest guidelines are adapted from a model introduced by the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery and will award scholarship funds totaling at least $5,000 to the winners.

The contest is open through Dec. 10. Students are asked to examine the history of a topic of racial injustice and to discuss its legacy today. Essays should explain the chosen topic using a historical event or events, explore how the injustice persists and imagine solutions for a future free from racial injustice.

Students are encouraged to reflect on how the topic impacts their own lives and communities. Essays between 800 and 1,000 words will be judged by local history experts. All resources necessary to participate in the contest and to submit entries are located at: https://www.baldwincommunityremembrance.org 2

More than 4,000 African Americans were lynched across the South during the Era of Racial Terror between 1877-1950. Of those, 360 of the victims were in Alabama. Lynching profoundly affected race relations in the country and shaped the geographic, political, social and economic conditions of African Americans in ways that are still evident today. The EJI has initiated a campaign to recognize the victims of lynching by creating a memorial in Montgomery to acknowledge the racial injustice and has invited counties to join the effort to confront and recover so that people may heal and move forward in creating an environment of peace and equal justice for all.

Baldwin County residents began convening in the summer of 2017 in support of such a local Community Remembrance Project. A broad coalition of residents diverse in race, age, gender, politics, and religious and non-religious affiliations continues to build, motivated by the need for truthfully acknowledging this history and moving toward racial healing.

On Feb. 5, 2022, a historical marker will be placed at Courthouse Square in Bay Minette in remembrance of Reuben Sims who was seized by a mob and lynched in Little River in Baldwin County on April 16, 1904. EJI partners with diverse county coalitions to provide the markers and to facilitate projects.

The Baldwin County Commission has approved placement of the marker and the Baldwin County public high schools are working in conjunction with the Community Remembrance Project to conduct the fall’s essay contest.

Contest winners will be announced at the 2022 Martin Luther King Day celebration in Foley on Jan. 17 and the winner of the essay contest will be invited by the director of archives and history to attend a Baldwin County Commission meeting in February 2022 to present the winning essay in observance of Black History Month.

The Baldwin County Community Remembrance Project is working in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative to memorialize documented victims of racial violence during the Era of Racial Terror (1877-1950) and foster meaningful dialogue about race and justice.