The Community Foundation of Lorain County is seeking essays for its first Toni Morrison Day.

This essay contest is being organized to support the creativity and initiative of the world-renowned and award-winning author and has a submittal deadline of Feb. 7.

The theme of the contest, which will be held next month, is: "How will you be defined?”

Morrison's work explores the issue of identity, how we see ourselves and how others see us. Her novels also examine self-esteem, the positive and negative evaluations we give ourselves. How can the discrepancies between how others see us affect our self esteem?

There are four categories for entries: Kindergarten through fifth grade; middle school (grades six through eight), high school; and college.

The essay must be 700 words or less, excluding the title and cover page. It must be typed or printed and submitted by mail or online.

Entries must be received by 5 p.m. Feb. 7. They also must include a cover page indicating the entrant’s name, category, address, email address of the student or guardian, phone number and school name.

Essays must be original and unpublished. Plagiarized entries will be rejected.

Gift cards ranging from $25 to $75 will be awarded for the top three essays in each category.

Essays may be mailed to: Community Foundation of Lorain County, Attn. Toni Morrison Essay Contest, 9080 Leavitt Road, Elyria, Ohio 44035. They may be emailed to essay@peoplewhocare.org.

In addition to the Community Foundation of Lorain County, the essay contest is being organized by the African American Community Fund, Lorain Historical Society. Lorain Public Library System, Lorain County Alliance of Black School Educators, Lorain County Urban League and Lorain County Section of National Council of Negro Women.

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