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Frederick Douglass - A Legacy of Abolition in Newark: Dana Library Speech Contest

Libguide in support of Dana Library's speech contest commemorating Frederick Douglass' speech in Newark, NJ

Agitate! Speech Contest in Honor of Frederick Douglass

Speech contest flyer

One hundred and seventy years ago, famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass visited the African American community in Newark to fundraise for the North Star newspaper and to rally action around the abolition of slavery. In April, Rutgers University–Newark will commemorate the anniversary of Frederick Douglass’s visit to Newark. Kenneth Morris, Jr., a great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass, will be an honored guest of these festivities! As part of the planned events celebrating and honoring  Frederick Douglass’ visit, Dana Library is hosting a speech contest for all Rutgers–Newark students.

The contest will run from Wednesday, March 13 through Thursday, April 11, 2019. First, second, and third place prizes will be awarded as follows:

  • 1st place will receive: Apple AirPods
  • 2nd place will receive: Amazon Fire tablet
  • 3rd place will receive: Starbucks gift card

Your speech should respond to this question: If Frederick Douglass was alive today, what would he have to say about race and social justice in the United States?

Submissions can be in essay, poem/spoken word, or video form and must be an original work.

  • Essays: Essay must be no fewer than 750 and no more than 1,250 words in length, double-spaced. This translates to 3 pages to 5 pages double spaced.
  • Poetry: Poetry must be no fewer than 750 and no more than 1,250 words in length, double-spaced. This translates to 3 pages to 5 pages double spaced.
  • Videos: Videos must be no shorter than 2 minutes and no longer than 4 minutes in length.

Submission Guidelines:

  • A bibliography following the MLA Handbook must be included. For those doing video submissions, the bibliography should be incorporated at the end of your video.
  • All submissions must use at least 3 sources and should reflect a variety of sources, i.e., academic journals, news magazines, newspapers, books, etc.
  • Submit as a .doc or .wmv file to


  • Winners of the contest will be notified by April 15
  • Winners consent to participate in interviews and allow Dana Library to use quotes and take photographs, movies, or videotapes of them.

Eligibility: Rutgers–Newark students are eligible to participate. Rutgers faculty and staff who are students are not eligible to participate.

Content and Judging: Submissions will be judged on the quality of analysis, quality of research, and form, style, and mechanics. Successful entries will answer all aspects of the prompt and demonstrate an understanding of the prompt.

Questions: If you have any questions about the topic, the format, or anything else related to the contest, please contact Consuella Askew at


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