2020 Voting Rights Art and Essay Contest

2020 Evelyn Butts Voting Rights Art & Essay Contest

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February is African American History Month, and what better way to celebrate than learning about important figures who have impacted history. This year, the Norfolk Public Library, the City of Norfolk, and Norfolk Public Schools want every student from pre-K to 12th grade to reflect on the 2020 theme, “African Americans and the Vote,” by participating in the city-wide “Voting Rights” art and essay contest.  

The contest is also a way to honor local civil rights activist Evelyn Butts, who is best known for challenging the poll tax in the 1960s and taking her case before the United States Supreme Court. Butts eventually won her case to get the poll tax eliminated with the help of Joseph A. Jordan Jr., a civil rights attorney who later became the first African American member of the Norfolk City Council since Reconstruction. Jordan was also the first African American judge for the Norfolk General District Court.

Students are encouraged to read about Jordan, Butts and other trailblazers, and to create an expression of what they have learned in the form of an artwork or essay. This contest is open to all Norfolk homeschool, public, private, and parochial school students in grades pre-K through 12.

Contest Dates

Entry Deadline

Deadline for entries is Saturday, March 7, 2020. Drop off your entries at any Norfolk Public Library branch location before 5 PM. Entries may also be dropped off at Pretlow Anchor Branch, Jordan-Newby Anchor Branch, or Slover Library on Sunday, March 8, by 5 PM.

Awards Ceremony

Winners will be notified by March 13, 2020. Join us for the Evelyn Butts Voting Rights Awards Ceremony at Jordan-Newby Anchor Branch on March 21, 2020 at 3 PM. Prizes will be awarded. First- and second-place winners will be chosen for each grade category for artwork and essays.


Entries may be picked up between April 6 and April 30, 2020. All unclaimed entries become the property of Norfolk Public Library on May 15, 2020. (Pick-up locations are the same locations where entries were originally submitted).




  • Illustrate a scene or excerpt from a book or other written material about Evelyn Butts or other voting rights figure or activity.
  • Art contest open to: Pre-K - Grade 2, Grades 3 - 5, Grades 6 - 8, Grades, 9 - 12.
  • Minimum paper Size: 8.5" x 11".
  • Maximum paper Size: 22" x 28" (standard poster size).
  • Any type of paper or medium may be used.
  • No 3-D artwork will be accepted.


  • Write an original essay that relates to Evelyn Butts or other people or organizations involved in advancing voting rights
  • Essay contest open to: Grades 6 - 8, Grades 9 - 12.
  • Essay must be typed and not exceed one page.
  • Essay must be original and not previously published.

Download the Entry Form

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