John L Warfield Center

Peace and Justice Symposium



Theme for 2021: Ashé to Ashes Deadline for all entries:

Friday, April 30th by 5 pm CDT (no late entries accepted)

The John L. Warfield Center and African and African Diaspora Studies Department at The University of Texas at Austin are proud to announce the Peace and Justice Symposium is now accepting entries.

For the 2021 contest results, see below! 

What is the Peace and Justice Symposium? Peace and Justice Day was launched by the John L. Warfield Center in solidarity with International Worker’s Day, which is a celebration of the working class that aims to secure improved workers’ rights and international peace. Historically held at the MLK Statue, Peace and Justice Day featured poetry readings, protest music, speeches and impromptu declarations about increasing justice. Buttons with slogans by activists such as Grace Lee Boggs, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Gloria Anzaldúa were sometimes handed out to students as they walked to class. At other times, students made exhibits of the activist work they had researched throughout the semester. Partnering with the African and African Diaspora Studies Department, our aim of Peace and Justice Day was to bring awareness to the many workers on UT’s campus, and to encourage everyone to continue working toward collective economic, social, and political equity.

Theme: Ashé to Ashes

Peace and Justice Day is a time to honor the legacy of activism of Martin Luther King Jr., along with others whose work strives for social progress and equality across the diaspora. Rising from the ashes of anguish has been a pervasive invitation for self-renewal and community healing. In Egyptian mythology the Bennu bird, more commonly known as the phoenix, symbolizes joyous rebirth from the flames. Much like the flames and ashes of the phoenix, Black people have experienced periods of cultural invigoration and renewal particularly through a renaissance of voices and artistic expression. This ranges from the era of the Harlem Renaissance, most notably characterized by the Red Summer of 1919, to the 1968 Chicago riots following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, which inspired Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem "The Third Sermon on The Warpland".

But when the ashes settle, emotions still linger. With millions across the world protesting the unjustified killing of innocent Black lives—Breanna Taylor, Michael Brown, George Floyd, Michael Ramos, Ahmaud Arbery among many others—much of the collective pain felt during 2020 has created a catalyst for a range of responses. For the artistic and the creative, these emotions serve as a vehicle to usher in a new order of understanding and unification. We hope this call inspires applicants to uplift their voices and those of their communities by imagining a rebirth from the flames of 2020.


The deadline for submissions is on Friday, April 30th, 2021.

Please note that the entries becomes the sole property of Black Studies Department and that applicants can only submit one entry.

Eligibility & Guidelines

Who can enter? We invite all full-time enrolled undergraduate students, regardless of major or college, to submit original content. How do I enter? Pick one category and review the guidelines for each entry as their vary for each . Applicants should submit their entry in electronic form here. Submissions must be completed by an individual and not a group. Please note that applicants can only submit for one category. Entrants should show creative and thoughtful reflection on the theme, Ashé to Ashes, in their entries. The following items must be included:

  • Full Name and EID
  • Email Address
  • Major
  • Category of Submission
  • Title of Submission
  • Artist Statement

How are winners selected and announced? A panel of judges will be selected and and will judge entries based on the following criteria: 40% Interpretation of theme, 30% Creativity, and 30% Technique.

Applicants will receive an in May informing the status of their entry and whether it was selected will be featured in the virtual symposium on Monday, May 17th at 3:00 pm CDT. Applicants whose entries are selected will receive a $500 scholarship.

How to enter and rules for each categories:

Choreography: Solo and ensemble works of all dance styles are accepted. Entrant must be the choreographer and may also be the performer, or one of the performers. If background music is used, must be cited appropriately.

Literature: Accepted forms include: poetry, reflective essay, screenplay, drama, and short story. Entrants may write in their primary language as long as an English translation is also attached. Use of copyrighted material is prohibited. Writing must not exceed 2,500 words. Accepted formats: Word Document or PDF file.

Musical Composition: All music styles and combinations of instrumentation are accepted. Entrant must be the composer and may also be the performer, or one of the performers. Use of copyrighted material is prohibited. Audio file must not exceed 5 min. and 1 GB in size. Accepted formats: MP3, WMA, WAV, ACC, FLAC.

Visual Arts: Works of both fine and design arts are accepted, including but not limited to: photography, videography drawing and models, ceramics, collage, computer generated images and graphics, crafts,

Artists should submit entries in electronic form here. 

  • John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies

    The University of Texas at Austin
    210 W 24th St.
    Mailcode D7200
    Austin, Texas, 78705