Sadie T.M. Alexander 

Social Justice Essay Contest

(Contest ends March 31, 2019)


Sadie T.M. Alexander, born on January 2, 1898, was undoubtedly one of the most pioneering women of African descent in the United States. Born into a prominent black family in Philadelphia, Alexander led a life of service, prestigious educational accomplishments, and leadership.  Alexander’s uncle was infamous painter Henry Ossawa Tanner and her aunt Dr. Hallie F. Mossell founded Tuskegee Institute’s School of Nursing and Hospital.

After earning a scholarship to Howard University in Washington, D.C., Sadie’s mother encouraged her to attend the University of Pennsylvania instead. While at the University of Penn, she experienced harrowing discrimination from students and professors alike. After graduating from Penn with honors and her Bachelor’s of Science degree in education, Sadie was denied election into Phi Beta Kappa Honors Fraternity because of her gender and race. 


Instead of quitting, Alexander earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from Penn, ultimately becoming the first black woman to earn the degree. Upon her graduation, Sadie served as the first national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, from 1919-1923.  Alexander also enrolled in University of Pennsylvania Law School becoming the first woman to earn both her Ph.D. and Juris Doctorate. Throughout her life, Sadie M. Alexander advocated against civil rights violations, Jim crow, and employment inequality, thus, leaving a legacy of a strong commitment to social justice for many to follow. 



Lia B. Epperson, Knocking Down Doors: The Trailblazing Life of Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, Pennsylvania’s First Black Woman Lawyer(Stanford, CA: Women’s Legal History Biography Project, Stanford University Law School: 1998); J. Clay


Smith, Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press: 1993).


Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (n.d.). Retrieved January 9, 2019, from


The objective of this contest is to have high school students participants think critically about issues that effect women of color. While focusing mainly on women of color in leadership/decision making decisions, participants will analyze how macro and micro-aggressions disproportionately effect them at staggering rates. In addition, participants will have a chance to explain how women of color influence the United States’ political, social and economic climate.     

In addition, older students will discuss racial and gender bias while presenting practical steps for people interested in identifying their own “inherent racial bias”




• Essay must relate to the theme and writing prompt.

• Essay must be your original work.

• Essay must be between 800-1000 words.

• Essay must be non-fiction and follow the form of a diary, journal, blog, memoir, or essay. 

• Once entered essay will be reviewed by our judges. No foul language or inappropriate material.  Those entries will be removed.

• Writing submission must come from a current high school student at The U School (grades 9-12).

  • All essays will be screened for plagiarism. 



There will be four winners. One first place winner and runner-up for 9th and 10th grades and 11th and 12th grades.  We will announce the winner in early March 2019 If there are finalists outside of the winner who garner a strong percentage of editorial votes, they are named runners-up.

  • First place winners will be awarded 100-dollar visa gift cards and Second place winners will be awarded

  • 75-dollar visa gift cards.

All questions can be directed to


Tel: 717-706-7345 


Mon - Fri: 10am - 2pm


DonCARES of Philadelphia, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, formed in 2015 to promote high-quality one-on-one mentoring for high school students in North Philadelphia. If you find it in your heart to donate to our cause, your gift is 100% tax deductible. Thank you. 


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