Juneteenth Essay Winners

The IDEA Committee Juneteenth Essay Contest Winners

Congratulations to our essay authors Taylor Scott, Ava Kellner, and Jordynn Killion! 

Accompanying Essay

As a child I thought that Juneteenth was just a day to celebrate the end of slavery and while that holds true, it is so much more than just that.

Juneteenth is a day to acknowledge the fight for freedom in America and the people that risked their lives for that fight. It is a day to celebrate the accomplishments of black people from then and now and show the world what we are capable of. It is a day to know that despite all the work that has been done in the past, there is still more to be done now and we must still fight for equality for all people in America. It is a day that is beautiful, colorful and filled with black joy and still despite it being a federal holiday, there are many people that don't know about it.

The first time I learned about Juneteenth I was in elementary school. Living in a predominantly white area, my mother had always made sure that I learned about the history of black people in America and what we had gone through…about why June 19th, was such a special day for black people in America because all slaves were officially freed on that day in 1865…I first realized that people were not taught the history behind Juneteenth during quarantine. After the massive media coverage of Black Lives Matter, people started to learn more and more about black history and problems. However, most people still did not know the history behind it.

In schools the history of black people widely focuses on the bad things that have happened to black people in history, slavery, Jim Crow, etc.. While all incredibly important to learn, we barely hear about the accomplishments of black people.

In my math class, a girl in asked what Juneteenth was and why we had off. My teacher had no answer for her because he did not know what the holiday was about himself, and everyone gave me side glances expecting me to explain.

This is the problem with how we learn black history. It has fallen on the shoulders of black people, even children, to educate about black problems and if Juneteenth is a day off for everyone then they should at least take the time to learn the history behind it and why it is important.