MLK Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Competition

MLK Competition

Straker Bar Association is preparing high school students (through written and oral advocacy on academic and/or current events) to discuss critical issues that affect our country, while helping them earn money for college and gain exposure to mentoring and career opportunities. 

Each year, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major For Justice Advocacy Competition Committee invites 11th and 12th grade students from select high schools in the Detroit metropolitan area to participate in this exciting and worthwhile competition. The purpose of the MLK Advocacy Competition is to promote oral advocacy among high school students and encourage students to develop and improve their analytical and writing skills.

To participate in the MLK Advocacy Competition, students must submit an essay analyzing an issue using the principles espoused by Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr. Typically, the essay topic relates directly to academic and/or societal realities that some students encounter each day.

Each participating student must submit an essay of not more than 1000 words on the above stated topic by April 1. Members of the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association review the essays to select the finalists. Download the application and research guide HERE.

Typically, five finalists are selected based on the essays.  All finalists must compete in the oral advocacy portion of the Competition, which will be held in mid-May at the Wayne State University Law School, Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium, 471 W. Palmer St., Detroit, MI 48202.   All finalists will be assigned a lawyer mentor to assist them in preparing their oral presentation (three to five minutes) to a panel of judges from Michigan state and/or federal courts, who will rank the finalists based on the content of their presentations and oratorical skills.

Every student who submits an essay will receive a Certificate of Recognition.  In addition to a Certificate of Distinction, all finalists will receive a monetary award intended to assist them in achieving their educational goals.  In past competitions, cash prize awards ranged from $5,000 (first place) to $250.  The five finalists who enter the oral competition will also receive a recognition plaque. The first place finalist’s name will be memorialized on a perpetual plaque. 

The essay requirements are included on the attached submission rules and guidelines.  Strict adherence to the stated requirements is necessary.  Failure to adhere to the guidelines may result in the disqualification of the submission. 

We encourage  teachers to consider using this competition as a starting point for a class project. In the past, students attending various schools in Oakland and Wayne counties have successfully participated in the Competition.  We invite all students who submit entries, their families, sponsors, members of the participating Associations, the press, and others to attend the advocacy portion of the Competition. 

We believe that your students will find involvement in this Competition most rewarding, and we look forward to their participation.  Should you have any questions regarding the Competition, please do not hesitate to contact Straker Bar Association via email at [email protected].


  • Essays must consist of original work.
  • Students must incorporate the topic and answer the essay question. The question should not be recited verbatim.
  • Sudents must specify the solution(s) and program(s) that they believe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have made, and fully explain why the proposed solution(s) and program(s) should be adopted.
  • Essays must not exceed 1000 words.


  • Students must submit double-spaced essays, typed, 12-point Arial font.
  • Margins must be one-inch and the text must be fully justified.
  • Students must submit two copies of the essay (if submitted by mail). Students should maintain their own copy of the essay because the submitted documents will not be returned.
  • Students must place a cover sheet on top of the original with the following information: (1) name, (2) address, (3) telephone number, (4) e-mail address, (5) high school, (6) grade, (7) school contact person's name, title, and contact information (teacher, administrator, or staff), and (8) grade point average.


  • For the oral competition, the five finalists must present their essay in the timeframe of at least three minutes and no more than five minutes.



Entries may be submitted using one of the following methods:

D. Augustus Straker Bar
MLK Competition Submission
c/o Michael K. Jackson, II, Esq.
22200 W. Eleven Mile Road #357
Southfield, MI 48037-0357

Email: [email protected]
nclude the Subject: "MLK Competition Submission"



Every year, dozens of people volunteer their time and make it possible for all of us to honor the legacy of Dr. King. We couldn’t have done it in the past without them and we need your help to make this year a success. Are you or your group interested in volunteering at a Drum Major For Justice Advocacy Competition event this year? If so, please contact Michael K. Jackson, II, Esq., at (248) 866-5942 or [email protected].