Memphis Black History Library Card Contest

Beginner, amateur, or professional artist? Doesn’t matter. You can submit your work for consideration in the Memphis Public Library’s Black History Library Card Contest. Local contestants will frame their art around the theme of Memphis Black History and will be judged on visual impact, interpretation and creativity.

Age Categories and Prizes

There are three age categories: 9-and-under, 10-17, and 18-and-older. A contestant’s work must be created individually and cannot be submitted as a team. Only one entry per person.

There will be a winner in each category and a runner-up. The winner in each category will have their work displayed on MPL library cards in addition to receiving a $200 gift card and a basket of art supplies. The runner-up in each category will receive a $100 gift card and a basket of art supplies. All winners and runners-up will have their entries displayed on the library’s website as well as social media sites.


The deadline for artists to submit their designs has been extended to March 22. Designs for the library card & key fob should celebrate Memphis Black culture and history.

Winners will be announced on Tuesday April 6 in conjunction with the April 4th Martin Luther King, Jr. observance.

Cards will be issued starting Friday June 18 in recognition of Juneteenth (Saturday June 19th). 

Art Details

Library Cards Dimensions: 2 1/8″ Height and 3 3/8″ Width (In order to accommodate printers, your design will need to exceed those dimensions to 2 1/2″ Height and 3 6/8″ Width. The edges will be trimmed down to the card dimensions)

Resolution: Images no less than 300 DPI

Sample Template: This template can provide guidance. All submissions must be uploaded with the Entry Form below.

entry form

Applicants between the ages of 13 and 17 must have parent/guardian permission. Applicants under age 13 must have their entries submitted by a parent/guardian.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
Maximum File Size: 15 MB; Allowed File Types: jpg, jpeg, png, eps, tif, pdf

winners announced!

Congratulations to the finalists of the MPL Black History Month Library Card Design contest. The winning designs in each category (Adult, Teen, Under 9) will be featured on library cards starting June 19th in honor of the Juneteenth celebration.

age nine and under winner

Ryan Garnett: I love the Stax Museum! The first time I went to visit, I remember feeling as if I went back in time and how amazing it was to meet all the great musicians from MY past. In school, we learned about our great city attractions like Graceland, Shelby Farms, the Agricenter, and Memphis style barbecue. But, when I visit the museum, I get to feel connected to actual people like me. Artists and musicians who stood where I am, look like me, and have dreams that started out like mine. I get to see my future in music by remembering and hearing the past of how it all started. To some, it may feel boring to see pictures, records, and clothes of most people dead and moved on but in my head, its like looking into the life of legends like Isaac Hayes, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin- and possibly seeing myself in the mirror.

Age ten through seventeen winner

Rachael Douglass: My artwork is linked to Memphis Black History through it emphasis in ethnic pride, empowerment, and the establishment of cultural institutions. My artwork is like the power and love that Memphis has for Black people who inspire, promote, and uplift each other to call Memphis home. My art is not just a one-time celebration for Black people, it’s a 365-day celebration of liberation and development for Memphis. My art represents the fearless, visionary spirits of Memphis and the desire to build a stronger and more artistic community for people to rise up and set a better future for themselves and others.

eighteen and up winner

Daria Davis:

For this design, I wanted to commemorate women of the civil rights/suffrage movement, as they relate to Memphis, TN. The women pictured from left to right are Mary Church Terrell, Cornelia Crenshaw, Maxine Smith, and Ida B. Wells. Each woman was an activist for civil and social rights. Each woman has a connection to Memphis; either they were born and raised in Memphis or spent a lot of time in the city fighting for civil rights.

The design features vivid colors and an outline of one of the Clayborn Temple stained glass windows to symbolize the church where activists gathered during the Sanitation Strike of 1968. Clayborn Temple was also where the I AM A MAN posters were printed and created. The music notes symbolize Memphis as a city known for its music. A city that steps to its own beat. I changed the sign to I AM A WOMAN, as a nod to the women being highlighted in this illustration.

Mary Church Terrell is a native Memphian and one of the first African American women to get a college degree. She was the daughter of Robert Reed church. Mary Church Terrell was a civil rights and suffrage activist. Terrel along with Ida B. Wells organized anti-lynching campaigns. She was also one of the charter members of the NAACP.

Ida B. Wells was the first woman owner of a Memphis-based newspaper entitled Free-Speech. Wells was known as being an activist of anti-lynching, women’s rights, and the suffrage movement. Wells was also one of the charter members of the NAACP. Wells worked as a journalist, activist, and researcher. Wells used her writing to shed light on important causes and injustices faced by African-Americans.

Cornelia Crenshaw worked tirelessly to help the strikers’ families during the sanitation strike. Crenshaw was a civil rights activist. Crenshaw is also coined as the person that recited the I AM A MAN poem which later became the well-known slogan of the movement. She has a Memphis Public Library Branch named after her. Crenshaw is known as the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement”.

Maxine Smith worked to end segregation. She also helped organize the Sanitation Strike of 1968; serving specifically on the coordinating committee. Smith worked her entire life for education equality and civil rights. She has a school named after her in Memphis, TN. She worked for the Memphis Board of Education for more than 20 years where she was eventually elected president.