2022 MLK Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Competition

2022 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Drum Major For Justice Advocacy Competition

Click here to apply.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Competition is a contest designed to motivate high school students to excel in education.  The Competition encourages students to express their views on a pre-selected topic and focuses on the ability of the students to communicate orally and in writing.  The contest is also designed to give young people experience in public speaking and reviewing legal documents as well as provide an opportunity for them to obtain some financial support to continue their education.

The National Bar Association’s (“NBA”) inaugural Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Competition was held at the 75th Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., in 2000.  The Competition originated under the leadership of NBA Past President Harold D. Pope with the assistance of Attorney Vanessa Miree Hayes and resulted from the historical success of a similar competition conducted by the NBA Affiliate Chapter, Wolverine Bar Association, Detroit, Michigan. As a result of the overwhelming success of the Competition, the NBA, with the support of the National Bar Institute (“NBI”), adopted it as a national program.

The successful foundation of the Competition was based primarily on the financial contribution of Ford Motor Company to the NBI with the guidance of Ford’s In-House Counsel and NBI Past Board Member Alison Nelson. With the continued financial support of FedEx, General Motors, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, State Farm Insurance Companies, Walmart Stores, Inc., and the National Bar Association Commercial Law Section, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Competition has been successfully held for twenty-one years and has evolved into a main program of the NBA and NBI.

The Competition is an annual oral and written advocacy program sponsored by the National Bar Association and the National Bar Institute.  The NBA and NBI will be celebrating the 21st Anniversary of the inaugural Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Competition at the 97th Annual Convention which will be held either virtually or live in July, 2022.

The topics of the Competition are always considered from the point of view of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and have included:

  • Law enforcement treatment of persons of Arab descent and of the Muslim faith in terrorist investigations.
  • The need for reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • Recommendations for action on the 40th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act to address the continuing problem of voter disenfranchisement in minority communities.
  • The treatment of juveniles in the criminal justice system.
  • The right of same-sex couples to marry.
  • Repealing of Stand Your Ground laws.
  • The funneling of young African American students into a “pre-school to prison” pipeline.
  • Support of the Black Lives Matter movement versus All Lives Matter debate.
  • Support “The Green New Deal”

The National Bar Association through the National Bar Institute has awarded approximately $290,000.00 in scholarships to over one hundred and twelve (112) students since the inception of the Competition in 2000.

After reviewing the submitted essays, the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association will hold a Local oral competition in order to identify 5 Contestant(s) who will move on to the Regional Competition. 

Essay Format:

1. The essay should be no longer than 1000 words.

2. The type font must be Arial, 12 point, double-spaced.

3. The margins must be 1” and text must be fully justified.

2022 MLK Competition Question: 

If Dr. King were alive today, would he support canceling student loan debt in hopes of giving Blacks

financial freedom and a better quality of life? Would Dr. King support student loans or tuition free colleges?

If so, explain why? If not, explain why not?


Click here to apply. The deadline is Friday, February 25, 2022, at 5:00 PM. Applicants will receive additional details regarding the competition after applying.


Click here to see previous competitors in action.