Since 1998, the Human Relations Council of the Greater Hemet, San Jacinto and Menifee regions has engaged in a range of activities designed to nurture harmonious relations among the increasingly diverse elements of our community, and to contribute to a peaceful process of local change and growth. HRC holds a firm belief that prejudice can be successfully fought with understanding and, to that end, it attempts on an ongoing basis to educate the community on the value and uniqueness of each culture.

  This year, HRC will be holding its 14th-annual Black History Month Essay Contest during the month of February 2018. Essays should be submitted by 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12. The Awards Ceremony is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Mt. San Jacinto Junior College Library.

  The contest is open to all middle school, high school and college students in the San Jacinto and the Menifee valleys, including Hemet Unified School District (and Idyllwild), San Jacinto Unified School District, Menifee School District, Perris Union High School District and MSJC.

Celebrating Black History in the U.S. began in 1926 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard Ph.D., initiated Negro History Week. Woodson, a historian, chose the second week in February because it included the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, the Bicentennial (200th birthday) of the U.S.A., the week‐long observance was extended to the entire month of February in order to have enough time for celebratory programs and activities.

  Entrants should pick a person of color who illustrates the triumph of the human spirit over circumstances and prejudice in order to build a life of accomplishment.

Write the essay as a historical fiction: Imagine yourself living at the time of your chosen person and being acquainted with him/her. You might be his/her child, parent, friend, boss or even an adversary. Write about him/her from your unique point of view.

Make sure your essay includes the answers to the following questions:

Who is the person about whom you want to write? When did he/she live? What did your chosen person do to “triumph over circumstances and prejudice to build a life of accomplishment”?

The length of the essay (essays too short or too long will be eliminated from judging): middle school (grades six through eight) 300 to 500 words; high school (grades nine through 12) 500 to 1,000 words; college (undergraduate only) 1,000 to 2,000 words.

  Home‐schooled and charter-school students also are encouraged to enter. Call 951‐634-4048 for entry details.

Submit entries to [email protected] or call the above number for an alternative method. Write the essay in MS Word, Notepad or WordPerfect. Use Arial 12 font and double-space your essay. Include your name, home telephone number, school, phone number and email address, as well as name of teacher or counselor, phone number and email address.

  All entries will become the property of the HRC. Entry into the contest grants permission for Human Relations Council to release any essay to the press for publication.

Winning students only will be asked to present their essays at the event. Teachers, counselors, administrators and families are invited to attend.

Prizes range from $25 to $150.