U. of Montana Faces Leftist Uproar After White Student Wins MLK Essay Contest

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on January 21, 2019 in Washington, DC. They placed a wreath to commemorate the slain civil rights leader. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Pete Marovich/Getty Images

The University of Montana is facing criticism from leftists around the country after a white student won the university’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day essay contest. According to the school, only white students participated in this year’s contest.

According to a report by the College Fix, the University of Montana is facing criticism over its decision to name a white student as the winner of its Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest. The university has defended itself by criticizing those who have argued that white students should not be permitted to write essays promoting equality and justice.

There is another problem with the position of the university’s critics. Although the essays were reviewed by a panel of both white and black judges, only white students submitted essays.

Despite this, Facebook users were quick to criticize the University of Montana over the outcome of the essay contest. “If you tried to get more POC in Montana universities, this wouldn’t be a problem. Montana is incredibly hostile to non-whites,” one Facebook user wrote. “People frequently mistook my older adopted child as our nanny, especially when we used her name – Lupe. Montana is full of racists and confederate flag worshippers, and it’s time we talked about that.”

In a statement posted to their Facebook page, the University of Montana defended the contest winner. The university argued that white students should not be precluded from honoring Martin Luther King Jr. or participating in the essay contest.

In the end, only white students submitted essays. The committee members who judged the essays were both white and people of color, and the process of judging included removing the authors’ names and identifying information from the essays, also called “blind judging.” To celebrate the essays and MLK Day, UM held a special event with keynote speaker, UM alumna and Montana Racial Equity Project Outreach Coordinator Meshayla Cox. The four students pictured above shared a panel discussion on the ways Dr. King has influenced their lives. The criticism regarding only four white students who submitted and ultimately won the essay contest is fair. It is also troubling. Yes. These students are white. But the color of their skin does not preclude them from submitting an essay, publicly honoring MLK or working toward equality. That takes all of us, including those of you who have responded with passion and concern about the result of this contest.

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