2021 TEAM Westport Teen Diversity Essay Contest Focuses on Black Lives Matter

Students attending High School in Westport or who live in Westport and attend High School elsewhere are invited to participate

TEAM Westport, the Town of Westport’s diversity action committee, has announced the topic for its 2021 Teen Diversity Essay Contest. Now in its eighth year, the contest asks teens to address the advent of ‘Black Lives Matter” on their nation and community. Prior years’ challenges, which tackled topics from “White Privilege” to “Micro-Aggressions” and “Stereotypes”. have drawn widespread attention and engagement in town and beyond.

The Westport Library is co-sponsoring the event and winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Library targeted for April 5, 2021 (date subject to COVID restrictions). Entry deadline for the essay contest is February 26, 2021. Subject to the volume and caliber of entries received, at the discretion of the judges, up to three cash prizes will be awarded. The first prize is $1,000, second prize is $750, and third prize is $500.  Click here for contest application.

This year’s prompt which is available along with contest entry rules online at www.teamwestport.org is as follows:

The statement “Black Lives Matter” has become politicized in our country.  In 1000 words or fewer, describe your own understanding of the statement.  Consider why conversations about race are often so emotionally charged.  Given that reality, what suggestions do you have for building both equity and equality in our community and country?

“Since the murder of George Floyd, the nation has moved toward an inflection point on racial reckoning not seen since the Civil War,” said TEAM Westport Chairperson Harold Bailey. “The ultimate resolution of that reckoning will have a profound effect upon the lives of our young citizens. Through it all, ‘Black Lives Matter’ has emerged as ubiquitous in message, aspiration, and vision. TEAM Westport looks forward to the exploration of the impact of this phenomenon on our nation and community by Westport students.”

First Selectman Jim Marpe said, “The events of this past year have brought our nation’s and our community’s attention to the reality of why ‘Black Lives Matter.’  I am grateful that TEAM Westport, in partnership with our local world-class centers of learning, the Westport Library and Westport Public Schools, allow our young adults a forum to confront the challenges and the opportunities that are presented by this important topic. The TEAM Westport essay contest has become an integral part of community life for teens in our town, and a great compliment to the excellent educational offerings we enjoy here in Westport.”

Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer said, “The Library is once again pleased to partner with TEAM Westport on the Teen Diversity Essay Contest. This past year, filled with violence and hate, no doubt had a deep and long-lasting impact on our youth. This year’s essay contest could not be more timely - providing our youth with the opportunity to freely express, without judgement or recourse, how they are feeling.”

Harmer continued, “The Library’s mission, vision, and values all include that diverse perspectives be heard and respected and that individual differences be valued.  We strive to foster a culture that minimizes bias and addresses systemic inequities. Our Strategic Plan focuses on the Library creating and providing a welcoming, equitable environment that enables people of every background to succeed. The Library will continue to bring the topics of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into our programming and discussions, as a means of increasing awareness in the community and confronting the pernicious reach of racism.”


With members appointed by the First Selectman and adjunct partners from the leadership of key Westport organizations, TEAM stands for Together Effectively Achieving Multiculturalism. TEAM Westport has developed a unique role by engaging the community in and drawing attention to issues surrounding multiculturalism and diversity -- making the invisible, visible. In addition to initiatives it implements directly, TEAM Westport partners with a wide range of municipal government and community institutions. Examples include co-programming with the Westport Library, the Westport Country Playhouse, Westport Schools, Westport Police, the Westport Museum, the Interfaith Clergy, the Interfaith Council, Westport MOCA, Westport Housing, Westport P&Z Affordable Housing Subcommittee, and the Levitt Pavilion.


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