May 15, 2017 Press Releases and Announcements

DPVA Announces Barbara Johns Essay Contest

by Katie Baker

RICHMOND, Va. – The Democratic Party of Virginia today announced it will extend its deadline for its first annual Barbara Johns essay contest for Virginia high school students to Friday, June 2 at 5 p.m.

The contest is intended to celebrate the life of civil rights activist Barbara Johns and to encourage high school students to raises their own voices against injustice.

“Barbara Johns was a trailblazer and an exemplary role model for young Virginians,” said Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker. “It is important to us that high school students have a chance to become involved in government and make an impact in their communities. Barbara’s story is evidence that young people can do just that.”

In 1951, at the age of 16, Johns organized a student strike in protest of the lack of funding for her high school in Prince Edward County. With the help of the NAACP and local community leaders, Johns was a significant figure in a lawsuit that later became part of the historic Brown v. Board of Education court case.

The winner of the essay contest will win two free tickets to the DPVA’s annual JJ dinner, which will be held on June 17th in Richmond. Additionally, the winner will have the opportunity to meet with the event’s keynote speaker, the 82nd Attorney General of the United States Eric H. Holder Jr.

The essay should be 500 to 750 words and address the questions: What does Barbara Johns’ legacy mean to you? What do you feel is the most important aspect of local government? What do you think a trailblazer is?

All high school students in Virginia are eligible to participate, including students graduating in 2017.

Applicants can submit their essays to Danny Carroll, DPVA Finance Director, at by 5 p.m. on June 2. Email or call Danny at 804-895-7576 with any questions.