New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

CONTACT:Barbara S. Straczynski
Acting Director of Communications

Black History Month Contest Winners To Be Recognized

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Three New Jersey high school students will be honored next week for their winning contributions to the 2006 Black History Month Contest sponsored by the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Minorities in the Profession Section (MIPS). The annual competition is designed to enhance interest in the practice of law by minorities and encourage excellence in writing by the state’s high school students.

The winners, who will be notified of their first-, second- or third-place win by Feb. 17, will be recognized during a special awards ceremony at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 21, at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. The event is part of MIPS’ celebration of Black History Month.

Last year’s event featured New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey as keynote speaker at the awards dinner, and highlighted a display of artwork by Trinidad-born artist roycrosse.

This year’s contest topic focused on South Africa’s apartheid system and disenfranchisement of the minority voter. Students were asked to “compare and contrast South Africa’s former practice of apartheid with the U.S.’s former law on segregation and discrimination.”

Students were given a definition of apartheid as a political system in South Africa from 1948 to the early 1990s that separated those living in the region and gave special privileges to those of European origin. “By its sheer definition, apartheid has some similarities to many of the discriminatory practices employed against African Americans in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries,” read the students’ topic description. “Many of these practices were formally eradicated several decades ago with the adoption of such laws as the Voting Rights Act, among others.”

Through their submissions, students were asked to address the differences and similarities between South Africa’s apartheid system and past U.S. practices, identify the South African leader associated with the downfall of apartheid and the U.S. leader or leaders instrumental in the demise of segregation in the U.S., and address the positive advancements that have taken place since the demise of both apartheid and U.S. discriminatory practices.

Students were permitted to submit entries in one of the following forms: essay, speech or artwork. A total of three winners are slated to be selected from among the entries, and may be selected from all, one or two of the categories. If a speech is selected as a winning entry, the author will be asked to present it during the awards ceremony.

The first-place winner will receive a $250 American Express gift card and a plaque. The second-place winner will receive a $100 gift certificate for a performance at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and a plaque. The winner of the third-place prize will receive a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a plaque.

Essay entries, which are limited to 1,000 words, will be judged on creativity, quality of writing and interest to the public. Speeches, which cannot exceed five minutes and must be submitted on video or cassette tape, will be judged on creativity, quality of product, interest to the public and presentation skills. Art submissions will be judged on creativity, quality of product and interest to the public.

The Black History Month Reception is open to all members of the Minorities in the Profession Section, the Association of Black Women Lawyers, the Garden State Bar Association and guests.

The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice.