for Northeast Ohio 6-12th Graders

You have the power to make a positive difference in the world.

We want to know how you have been and can continue to be an agent of positive change. Honestly and thoughtfully respond to the prompt below. Share what you’ve learned through your life experiences and tell how you’ll apply that knowledge in helping to create a brighter future.

Grades 6-10 ESSAYS DUE FEB. 16, 2023, 11:59pm

Grades 11 & 12 ESSAYS DUE FEB. 23, 2023, 11:59pm

This year we honor the courage and spirit of activists of the Civil Rights Movement whose legacy is explored in the Maltz Museum’s special exhibition, This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement. Inspired by lyrics to the African American folk anthem, “This Little Light of Mine,” sung as an expression of unity in the fight for equality and justice for all, we invite you to share how you shine your light as an agent of positive change in your community.

This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

For the essay contest: In 500 words or less:

  1. Write about a personal experience of injustice, bias, discrimination, or exclusion: something you witnessed or experienced, or a moment when you learned about an unjust situation or event that affected you or others.
  2. How did this moment impact you and others?
  3. Reflect on the idea of “light” as a metaphor. Where can we find “light” in this situation? How have you or will you shine your light as an agent of positive change in your community? How does shining a light (standing up or telling your story) help you and others?

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Step 1 of 4
Student Information

Step 2 of 4
School/Teacher Information

Please begin with your school name—as you type, a list of school names will appear. Please click on your school to complete this field. In most cases, the address, city, zip, county and school district will fill in automatically.

If your school name does not appear, please fill in the required information.

If you attend a school beginning “Saint” please type “St”.

If this essay was assigned in school, please enter the teacher's first and last name who assigned it to you. If you are submitting on your own, please enter your English or Social Studies/History teacher's name

Step 3 of 4

Copy and paste your essay text below. Do not include your name or school name anywhere in the essay. Essays are limited to 500 words; you will not be able to complete your entry if the essay is over the word limit.

Step 4 of 4
Parent/Guardian Consent

If the contest participant is under the age of 18, parental/guardian consent is required. Type your full name to electronically sign your child’s submission. By submitting your electronic signature you are agreeing to the contest rules.


By submitting an entry in the Stop the Hate® Youth Speak Out essay contest, I certify that my essay is original, authored solely by me and that in writing the essay I did not plagiarize or otherwise infringe upon the rights of any third party or entity, including, without limitation, any copyright rights. I understand that plagiarism will be grounds for my immediate disqualification. I also certify that the essay is a true account and not a work of fiction.

I understand that all entries become the property of the Maltz Museum, including the right to reproduce the essay or portions thereof in any promotional, reference, research or official materials without limitation. My entry will not be returned.


The Maltz Museum is committed to protecting the privacy of all applicants to the Stop the Hate® competition. The Museum will keep all information submitted confidential including phone numbers, email and street addresses and will not share this information with any organization without your express permission. We do not advertise to children or solicit children for marketing information and we never knowingly release the names of children to third parties.


The following information will help the Maltz Museum plan for future programs. The information is optional, and will be kept anonymously, unconnected from your name and other personal information. Please answer the following:

Let your friends know you are participating in the Stop the Hate® Youth Speak Out essay contest!