Lift Every Voice Spoken Word Competition

About the Competition

An original creation of BHERC, “Lift Every Voice(LEV) is managed by member Robert McCune and is an important opportunity to create recognition for poets and spoken word artists, especially the younger generation. With the intent to tap into the power of words and ideas, and to engage and nurture a younger generation, LEV intends to create a bridge to understanding the issues — both legacy and contemporary — that many people face today. “‘Lift Every Voice’ is an opportunity for writers and performers to speak for themselves, their families, and the world they live in. Considering the impact of the current climate of the world, and how it has proven to be debilitating, frustrating, resulting in tragedy for so many, this show provides a platform highlighting an area of artistry that is often overlooked.” stated Robert McCune, LEV Program Director. This program also allows BHERC LEV to call out across the globe in search of talented spoken word artists who are ready to let their words be heard. BHERC wants them to be seen and heard and all forms of prose are accepted. However, what makes this program “fresh” and “next level” is the addition of the online, character-driven, multi-episode competition.


What is Different About This Competition

  • Character-driven, this multi-episode competition
  • (10) Finalist selected to compete for cash prizes
  • Finalists/creative writers meet several challenges each week
  • Finalists are asked to provide new original works with each challenge.
  • They must perform original works for all challenges.
  • Eliminations will take place weekly



  • Contestants must be age 16 and up, (minors will need parental permission)
  • Writings containing language that is vulgar, offensive, or wholly inappropriate will not be accepted.
  • 3 original or newly written works, (different subject and style)


Judging Criteria

  • Contestants will be judged for the following: Originality, Creativity, Performance, Presence and Connectivity.


  • First Prize- $10,000
  • Second Prize- $5,000
  • Third Prize- $2,500


  • April 23rd application deadline for 1st phase (100 contestants will be chosen)
  • April 30th phase 2 contestants Announced (submit a 60-second video performing a submitted work)
  • May 14th Final (10) contestants announced
  • Competition Start Date TBA


The competition will span ten weeks, in which finalists will compete in different writing and performance challenges each week. Eliminations will take place weekly, where only the top-scoring will move on towards the cash prizes.

During the competition, contestants will be judged on their written works, the performance of those works, and how well their works encompassed their challenges for that week. “‘Lift Every Voice’ puts the voicings of many stories of joy and sadness, survival, healing, and triumph across the globe front and center. No one can tell these stories with more poetic agility, visual acuity, and agitated vocal percussion than spoken word artists, poets, and creative writers. They are the voice of the people. The voice of humanity!” elated Sandra J. Evers-Manly, President and Founder of BHERC. Each week Judges will mentor the contestants and go through their creative process, share a bit about the finalists and how they are handling the competition. Contestants will be expected to give testimonials, embrace competition contrary to their fellow writers, and try to gain as much exposure as possible.

BHERC believes in the promise and power of youth and young people and has invested in their power to bring about change thru the support of programs that include the Youth Diversity Film Festival, Fight Back with Film, the Artistry in Motion animation program, and mentoring workshops and panels with entertainment industry executives. BHERC also provides scholarships and grants assistance to college students and emerging artists. “Lift Every Voice” is a natural and evolutionary addition to the family of programs that serve to empower the youth of today.

The BHERC “Lift Every Voice” Call For Entries, opens Friday, April 2,  and will be posted here on 


About BHERC – Founded in 1996 by Sandra Evers-Manly, the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center is a nonprofit, public benefit organization designed to advocate, educate, research, develop, and preserve the history and future of Blacks in film and television. Through film festivals, award ceremonies, book signings, script readings, contests, scholarships, other programs, and special events, BHERC recognizes the contributions of Black men and women in front of and behind the scenes in the entertainment industry.