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Want to know what is on our minds? Find blog posts written here, by the City Club staff, members, and partners. Every week you can find a new edition of #FreeSpeech in the News — a collection of related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century that’s making the news. You’ll also find takes on current events, past forums, and issues surrounding Northeast Ohio. Read on for all things City Club.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

2019 Free Speech Essay Contest

Julia Wang, Marketing & Outreach Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

2019 Free Speech Essay Contest

The 2019 Hope and Stanley Adelstein Free Speech Essay Contest is here!

All Northeast Ohio high school students are invited to submit an essay challenging the role of free speech in the 21st century. This year’s prompt focuses on current threats to free speech – see below for the full prompt.

2019 Prompt:

Throughout 2018, there have been many conflicts surrounding free speech. From college campuses to the White House and with an increasingly polarized environment, both on and offline, people disagree about how free speech should be utilized and protected in their daily lives. These disagreements about free speech seem to have widened the rift between the left and right and to have made compromise on important issues difficult to reach. In such trying times, we often question whose voice has a right to be heard. What are the biggest threats to freedom of speech? What should be done to protect this core value of American Democracy?

Submissions open Tuesday, January 22. Please submit your essay here.

Eligibility and details:

  • All Northeast Ohio high school students are eligible to participate
  • There are two categories of judging – 9/10 grade and 11/12 grade
  • Essays must be 500-1,000 words
  • Please use 3 to 5 articles from reliable, valid sources in your essay.
  • Each entry is assigned a number. Essays are blind-scored by number only; no student or school names are identified. Do not include student name or school name within the body of your essay. Failure to comply may result in disqualification.
  • All winners are invited to attend a City Club forum with a guest and the first place winners for each category are invited to read their winning essay prior to the start of the forum.
  • Deadline: Monday, March 11, 2019

Example sources:

Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Ohio Voter-Purge Law

Why social media is not a public forum

As France debates fake news bill, critics see threat to free speech

What College Students Really Think About Free Speech

Stifling free speech promotes polarization, not conversation

What’s the Biggest Threat to Free Speech in America?

Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet

See here for full scoring rubric.


11/12 Grade

  • First Place: $1,000
  • Second Place: $750
  • Third Place: $500
  • Honorable Mention: $250

9/10 Grade

  • First Place: $500
  • Second Place: $250
  • Third Place: $150
  • Honorable Mention: $100

Last year's winners spoke at the forum featuring Dale Minami, the attorney who led the pro bono legal team that overturned the 40-year-old Supreme Court decision, Korematsu v. United States. You can view the winning essays here: Grade 11/12 Grade 9/10

For any questions regarding the Essay Contest or Student Programming, please contact Julia Wang, Marketing and Outreach Coordinator at

Good luck!

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