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The National Liberty Museum (NLM) proposes a national essay & speech contest for high school students that we will direct, attached to the early and wide releases of Paramount's film Selma, and marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma march and President Johnson’s signing into law of the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965.

The Selma Contest will engage US high school students (ages 14-18) directly in thinking, writing and speaking about relevant, timely issues of individual freedom and self-determination that are critical to the health of our democracy and the ideals of liberty as our founders intended it. In addition, the Contest will raise the national consciousness about the above issues that are essential to individual flourishing and our society’s well-being.

Contest topic: The movie Selma tells the story of how Martin Luther King and others peacefully protested to advance voting rights. What do you think needs to be done today to protect individual freedom and self-determination? What are you doing or will you do to peacefully advance those rights?

Students will submit along with their essay a videotaped reading of their entry, which positions the messages to be widely shared online. The video also adds a dramatic visual component and pays homage to the speeches of MLK and other Civil Rights heroes who advanced liberty through non-violent means.

The Contest will run from end of 12/14 through end of 1/15, and the winners will be announced at a press event & ceremony in April. Paramount will conduct an extensive marketing push via pre-release, limited release and post-release promotion as part of the film screenings and in social media.

The NLM will determine the judging criteria, develop the online intake portal and manage the intake of the essay/video submissions, conduct the screening of entries, convene the blue ribbon panel to judge the top finalists, administer the awards ceremony and coordinate with our PR Firm the outreach to media.