Winners have been announced for the 2019 Juneteenth Battle Creek Essay Contest. It was open to all students in grades 3 through 12 in the greater Battle Creek area.
Those submitting essays were asked to compose an original written essay with limited guidance from adults. A contestant's teacher, counselor, or parent may check the essay for punctuation, grammar and spelling, but the content must remain the contestant’s.
Students in grade 3 through 5 were asked to write 100 to 200 words on the topic
“What is Juneteenth and what does it mean to you and your family?” Sixth through 8th graders were to write 200 to 300 words on the topic “What does Juneteenth mean and why do we celebrate Juneteenth?” Those in grades 9 through 12 were to write 300 to 500 words on “How would you relate the issues of Juneteenth and individual freedoms to today’s society, please include examples. Should Juneteenth be observed as a National Holiday in America?”
The winners of the essay contest will be recognized at Battle Creek’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 15. On the Ground Battle Creek will be participating in the event throughout the weekend.
Why Should We Care About Juneteenth?
By AuBreanna Chaffee, 17, Battle Creek Central, 11th grade
I learned about Juneteenth from a television show. The show made me wonder about how we learn so many details about slavery, but we talk so little about the day African Americans became “real people” to the government. This day refers to the day slavery was abolished. Juneteenth relates to today’s society in many ways, but the concept is to celebrate black freedom. Yet, even with the freedom of the slaves by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, there are still many examples of white supremacy in society today.
Holden Matthews, for example, is the son of a local sheriff in Louisiana. He is being charged with a hate crime as he burnt down three African-American churches. Larnell Bruce Jr. was a victim of hate crime after getting into an altercation in a parking lot with an older white man. The man committed a hit-and-run and murdered Larnell while he was walking home. In normal disagreements, you would just move on with your day. Larnell should not have had to watch his back while walking down the street to feel protected in a country that should be protecting him. Just like the people that went to the churches in Louisiana should not have had to worry about being safe as they pray to their God.
These examples were just the most known cases this year. Even with African Americans being equal, there is still so much hatred and unwelcoming behavior in American culture. If we make Juneteenth important like other American holidays maybe people will start to celebrate and recognize how much that day made an impact in the world we live in now. I understand that the government is worried that making that day official they would have to accept responsibility for what the white man did all those years ago, but again they take enough responsibility to talk about what they did to the African Americans but not enough to celebrate the day they set them free.
Juneteenth should be a national holiday because it was a turning point in U.S history. Even though the people of the United States still have problems with treating people equally, that day made everyone legally equal. No matter what race, gender, religion, if you were U.S citizen, you would have been affected by this change. This is the day all that Abraham Lincoln Abolished slavery. I understand that Independence Day is when Americans broke off and became their own country but in a way Juneteenth is our own Black Independence Day. It is the day we became people again. We have national holidays for pets and even for special foods. But when black people get freed back in 1864, people start to forget about that sacred day in U.S history. Most people do not even know what
Juneteenth is. It shouldn't just be known, it should be celebrated!
By Michael Glass, 13, Endeavor Charter Academy, 7th grade
Juneteenth means June 19th. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery. Juneteenth is especially celebrated in the southern states in America because most slavery ended up happening in the south of the United States like in Alabama. Juneteenth is a special holiday because it makes me glad that slavery ended in the United States because I can be black and have white friendships and we don't have to be split up into separate black and white groups anymore.
Juneteenth is celebrated because it means the end of slavery for African Americans. It is a time when we as a community, black and white, can come together and celebrate. By cooking out at the park, eating, laughing together and having a good time. It is a time to think and reflect on what happened in our history as African Americans.
We should never forget the things of the past. We should learn from our past and move forward into a brighter future.
Personally, for me, Juneteenth is important and I celebrate it because I love all people. I have friends of all colors, races, and nationalities, and I cherish each of them. Without the sacrifices of my ancestors, this may not be a reality for me today. We might still be separated by skin color with separate restaurants, schools, and public restrooms. I proudly celebrate Juneteenth each year with my family because I believe what this day represents should never be forgotten.
By Malik Glass, 11, Endeavor Academy, 6th grade
Juneteenth is the day that the people of Texas had to release all of their slaves. This is an important day because slavery started in the 1600s, and has finally ended on June 19, 1865. Slavery ended in some places because President Lincoln created the "Emancipation Proclamation" on September 22, 1862. This meant that slaves in specific areas of the rebelling Confederate States of America were set free. However, because Texas was not a part of the Union occupation, it was not affected. Slavery was abolished in Texas because George Gordon Ganger became in command of the Department of Texas, and declared that all slaves shall be free. After he spread the word (which took six weeks), slavery was fully abolished in Texas.
I celebrate Juneteenth because if it weren't for what happened on this day, my family wouldn't have had the opportunity to start a new life. They fought against slavery so that we could have the freedom that we have today and if it weren't for them, that freedom wouldn't be ours. Some of the opportunities that we enjoy today are because of them. This shows that by fighting for what you want can lead to great things, not just for yourself, but for many other people. I also celebrate Juneteenth because I think it is important to recognize how lucky we are to be free, even as African Americans. Although some places have gotten rid of slavery, many other places still have it. I hope that one day, slavery around the world will be stopped.