Download Essay Prompts Grades K-12

Prompt for K-Grade 2

The Civil Rights movement in Tennessee is widely known for the peaceful nature of the African Americans fighting for their equality.   Show/tell why it is important to act peacefully or kind towards others.

Essay Prompt for Grades 3-5

Prior to the students beginning the sit-ins in Nashville, James Lawson, a Civil Rights leader, offered workshops for the students dealing with self-discipline and control.  In addition to attending the workshops, the students also had a well-devised plan on how to carry out the sit-ins.  

How did the workshops and having a plan aid the students in the sit-in success in Nashville?

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Essay Prompt for Grades 6-8

John Lewis, Civil Rights leader, posed two questions dealing with pushing forward with the sit-ins and protests working toward desegregation. 

“If not us, then who?” he asked. “If not now, then when?”

The students who coordinated the Nashville sit-ins completely agreed with John Lewis and pushed forward with sit-ins in Nashville even after numerous arrests and violence toward them.  

The sit-ins in Nashville were an example of the nonviolent protests that helped motivate others across the country, and many of the students who took part in the Nashville sit-ins became Civil Rights leaders. 

What do you believe was the impact of John Lewis’ questions on the students conducting the sit-ins in Nashville?

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Essay Prompt for Grades 9-12

Ben West was the mayor of Nashville during the time of the sit-ins.  West worked continually to improve race relations in the community.  One pivotal point for Nashville was when, during a demonstration by the students conducting the sit-ins, West was asked to take a stand against segregation and was asked publicly if he supported discrimination. He followed through with his support of the African American community and said he was opposed to both segregation and discrimination.  This led the business community to take swift action in desegregating Nashville.  

In your opinion, who had the larger role in the desegregation of Nashville—the students conducting the sit-ins or Mayor Ben West?  Find additional research to support your claim.  

Guidelines for the Essays

Length and style:
K-2 – May be submitted in words or pictures
Grades 3-5 – An essay between 150-200 words
Grades 6-8 – An essay between 250-350 words
Grades 9-12 – An essay not to exceed 500 words


Download Entry Form

The essay may be handwritten or produced on a computer in 12 pt font
Submitting the essays:  Individual essays should be accompanied by a separate but completed entry form, copy attached.  If submissions are coming from a class in school, we ask that teachers number each essay from the class and include entry forms with numbers which match the essays in a separate folder or envelope.
Copyright:  All essays become the property of MTFD which reserves the right to publish all essays.

Judging Criteria:

Download Grades K-2 Scoring Rubrics

Download Grades 3-12 Scoring Rubrics


A cash prize of $100 will be awarded to the winner in each age group.
Winners and at least one adult family member will be expected to attend the Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast at 1st United Methodist Church at 7:00 am, to present his or her essay.

Deadline for Entries is Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Hamblen County Schools return to Sarah Cates Office
Others should mail to:  Morristown Task Force on Diversity, c/o Rose Center, 442 W. Second North St., Morristown, TN 37814