ROOTS Sunday Essay Contest

The ROOTS Sunday Essay Contest invites all students who attend a Roots Sunday congregation to submit an essay on the topic, “Why my roots are important to me.” A “Roots Sunday” essay will reference an older member of the contestants’ family. The contest challenges contestants to research their family’s roots, and to discover and write about how their history has shaped their own life today.

The contest is open to United States students under the age of 18 and who attend a house of worship that is participating in the Roots Sunday program, a free program tied to the upcoming release of the new imagined miniseries, Roots. A congregation can sign up to participate in Roots Sunday at the bottom of this page.

All essays will be published on the Roots Sunday webpage and the top three essays will be awarded a cash prize.

  • First place will receive $1,000.
  • Second place will receive $500.
  • Third place will receive $250.


  • Contestants will write an essay on the topic, “Why my roots are important to me.
  • Essays must reference an older member of their family (living or diseased) who has shaped the contestant’s life in some way.


  • The 2016 contest deadline is Thursday, May 26, 2016. Any essay submitted after the deadline will not be considered for the cash awards, but will be posted on the Roots Sunday webpage and should be read by during a service by their congregation.
  • Essays must be the original work of the student.
  • Essays can be no more than 1,000 words but must be a minimum of 700 words.
  • Your essay must be typed and double-spaced.

Registration and Submission:

  • All contestants must complete and submit a registration form online with their essay.
  • Download and complete the online registration form when you have completed your essay.
  • Send the completed registration form and the essay as a .pdf attachment to by Thursday, May 26, 2016.