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Entries Now Being Accepted for Juneteenth Student Essay Writing Contest


NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (June 8, 2021) - The New Brunswick Human Relations Commission is hosting an ESSAY CONTEST in recognition of Juneteenth.
This contest is open to all New Brunswick residents in grades 7 -12.
Deadline for entries is June 19, 2021, 11:59 PM ET.

Juneteenth is a holiday honoring the day enslaved people became free, on June 19, 1865 - two and a half years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Sometimes known as "Freedom Day," Juneteenth is a contraction of the words "June Nineteenth." The holiday is typically celebrated in the southern United States, but slavery existed in the North too, and enslaved people lived here in New Jersey from the late 1600s through the Civil War. In fact, some historians note that the last 16 enslaved people in New Jersey were not freed until the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865.

Essay Topic
All essays must specifically address the Essay Topic, which is comprised of the following:

Communication barriers played a large role in keeping enslaved people from knowing they had gained freedom in the 1860s.

  1. What communication barriers exist between races today?
  2. What can we do to overcome these barriers and help people to interact peacefully?
  3. What steps can young people in our towns take to bridge any communication divides?
Essays will be judged on the student's ability to answer the above-stated topic question(s) in an articulate, clear, and organized manner, using historical and contemporary examples.

High School Students:
  • Grades 9-12:   Essays must be 500-1000 words in length for high school students. Submissions that do not meet this requirement, or that exceed it, will be disqualified.
Middle School Students:  
  • Grades 7-8:  Essays must be 350-500 words in length for middle school students. Submissions that do not meet this requirement, or that exceed it, will be disqualified.
Submission deadline:  June 19, 2021 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time

  • The contest is open to all students in grades 7 through 12 who are residents of New Brunswick during the contest period now through June 19th.
  • Only one entry per student is permitted.
Requirements for submitting an entry:
Please read and follow these directions carefully to ensure your entry will not be disqualified!
  • Your essay needs to be submitted as an attachment to an email.
  • The essay should NOT have your name or grade level anywhere on the paper; you will provide this information in the cover email.
  • Email your submission to: jjohnson@cityofnewbrunswick.org.  
  • The subject line in email: Human Relations Committee Juneteenth Essay 2021
  • In the text of the email, please provide the following information:
    1. Student’s name
    2. Grade level
    3. Contact phone number
    4. Street mailing address
    5. Email address
  • Attach your essay as a Word document or PDF file, double-spaced in 12-point font. Handwritten submissions will not be accepted.
  • You will receive an email confirming receipt of your entry.
Essays must be submitted no later than 11:59 pm Eastern Time, June 19th, 2021.

Selection of Winners
  • One essay from middle school (7-8) and one essay from high school (9-12) will be selected as winners.
  • Each student winner will be given the opportunity to have their winning essay published on the City’s website for the months of June and July. Additionally, each winner will receive a "Prize Pack for Four" from the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center.
  • All participants will receive a "Certificate of Participation" on behalf of the Commission.
All essays must be the original work of the student whose name is listed on the submission form. The ideas and work reflected by each essay must be the student’s own. Plagiarism is strictly forbidden and will result in immediate disqualification.

Judges and the Judging Process
  • Members of the New Brunswick Human Relations Commission will evaluate essay submissions using a “blind” process where names and other identifying information (except grade level, listed as “middle” or “high school”) will be removed.
  • Only after determining winners will identities of individuals be released to the judges.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.