The foundry of ignorance and hate tapped the fires of hell to melt the pig-iron that cast this evidence of our inhumanity to one another. Who now continues to man the bellows? Who will now douse the flames? Who will now stand shoulder-to shoulder, and proclaim enough is enough? We need you now, more than ever.
Due to a medical emergency, the staff at A Word With You Press is unable to address the current contest, and we’ve decided to put it on hold until further notice.
We thank you for your sympathy and patience as we handle the situation.
“I can’t run no more
With that modest crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers and vows.
But they’ve summoned,
they’ve summoned up a thunder cloud…
They’re gonna hear from me.”
Are you ready now to let them hear from you? I am.
This may well be the most important (of about fifty) contests that A Word with You Press has ever sponsored, and I am so angry that I am putting up $500 to get your attention. We have avoided anything political on this website in the past: but enough is enough. You know what I’m talking about.
I found this cast-iron plaque in an antique store. It kept me awake at night, until I felt compelled to drive back to Coeur d’Alene from Moscow and plunk down a Franklin to secure it for this contest: it is both trophy and prompt. It is history, but it is not in the past, as history should be. It is here. Right now.
I remember a road trip across America as a 19-year-old with my friend Brian, stopping to see a movie one humid evening in Mississippi. We found our seats in an empty theater, but then heard murmurings and chatter, even a little laughter, from above. Then we realized that “coloreds” were restricted to the balcony, and we privileged California white boys could pick our seats down below. We walked out of that dark theater in impotent protest. I can’t remember what movie was playing; I can’t forget the shame and outrage.
It all came back when I saw this plaque that had somehow migrated from the Deep South to a shelf in an antique store in Northern Idaho.
Whites (to the left) Coloreds (to the right)
Montgomery, Ala July1931
Here is your prompt: Imagine you are an eight-year-old boy or girl and you walk into a diner or bus station with your dad. You see the sign. You ask your dad what it means. The conversation begins. Alternatively, you create an essay based on whatever thoughts this plaque conjures up within you or maybe your personal revelation on your own road trip to enlightenment.
The rules: Up to a thousand words. Shoulder some of the cost by paying $10 for each entry, more if you can, to enter. And keep in mind, once I have selected three finalists, the run-off will be to answer the question: Why do you want to win this plaque, and what thundercloud has been summoned up in you? Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 22nd. (Perhaps you recognize the anniversary). Finalists announced Thanksgiving Day. Finalists’ entries due by December first. Cash prize and plaque awarded by December 5th. Two entries allowed per writer. Entry details by clicking the “Contest” icon on the website home page.
I am going to judge this contest myself, and, rather than delegating it to staff, I will personally post each entry. I am angry. I want you to get angry, but I want you to convert that anger into eloquence; that is what writers do. You want to change the world? Here is your chance. I have waited a long time for the inspiration to launch another contest. This is it.