Three Texas high school students have earned top honors in the 16th annual Barbara Jordan Historical Essay Competition at The University of Texas at Austin for their essays on "The African American in Texas: Past and Present."
DeAsia Cormier, an Austin senior who attends A.N. McCallum High School, took first place and received a $2,500 educational award for her essay titled "Mr. Johnny Holms and the Historic Victory Grill." Second place went to Timothy Howard, a junior from Robert E. Lee Senior High School in Midland, Texas and, third place went to Shelbi Mitchell, a freshman from Anderson High School in Austin. Howard wrote "Music in Living Color: The Karen Walker McAfee Legacy" and Mitchell penned "It Takes a Village." Second- and third-place winners received $1,500 and $1,000, respectively.
Students from high schools across Texas were eligible to submit an essay regionally, and up to three essays from 10 regions were invited to Austin to compete for the top three awards. Judging criteria are based on historical quality, relation to the theme and clarity of presentation. The top regional essays are archived in a collection at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin and are available for scholarly research.
"I applaud these students for thoroughly researching their topics and writing wonderful essays," said Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, the university's vice president for diversity and community engagement. "This kind of inquiry will help them to better understand the significant contributions that African Americans have made to Texas."
All 10 regional finalists received a medallion with the likeness of Barbara Jordan, the first African American woman elected to the United States Congress from the South.
The competition has awarded more than $80,000 to Texas students since 1996. To learn more about the essay competition, visit the Barbara Jordan Historical Essay Competition Web site. For other questions about the contest, contact Dr. Aileen Bumphus, 512-232-4660.