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The Woods Hole Community Black History Month Committee presents

2020: African Americans and the Vote Essay Competition (Pilot Project)

Each year, the Woods Hole Black History Month Committee seeks opportunities to broaden community engagement.  This year the committee is inviting all Mashpee and Falmouth public school students, 6th - 12th grade to participate in our very first Black History Month student essay contest.  The theme for this year focuses on African Americans and the Vote, highlighting the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment and the right for black men to vote after the civil war.

Students will be judged based on content, originality and organization. Winning essays (one from 6-8 grade, one from 9-12 grade) will be awarded $100 and an invitation to our annual Harambee Celebration in Woods Hole to do a reading of their essay.

Essay Prompt

"150 years ago after the passage of the 15th amendment, participation in the election process is low in some groups compared to others.  In 2016, 59.6% of African Americans voted in the last election according to the Pew research Center (2017).   What do you think are some of the barriers or challenges of low voter participation?  What do you think we need to do to fulfill the vision of the 15th amendment and to create a country in which most adults take part in choosing our elected officials?"

Essay Requirements

  • Maximum 2 pages, single spaced, size 12, Arial font
  • Submitted via Google Form (below) in PDF format
  • 9-12th grade students: also provide references supporting your argument/ideas.

Important Dates

  • Due by: February 21 @ 11:59 PM EST
  • Winners will be notified by February 24
  • Winners will read their essay at the Harambee on February 27 (exact reading time TBD)


Woods Hole Black History Month events are sponsored by the Marine Biological Laboratory; the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole Science Center, the Woodwell Climate Research Center , and the Sea Education Association. All events are free and open to the public.