Imagine for a moment that you were an African-American in the 1800s, and after a lifetime of enslavement you learned you had finally been granted freedom.
This reflective exercise was given to the fifth-graders at Pulaski Street School, who were then asked to write first-person narratives detailing how they would feel if they were given that news.
Those essays were then submitted as part of the Pulaski Street Juneteenth Writing Contest sponsored by the East End Voters Coalition.
Juneteenth Day is the celebration of the day slaves in the Confederate states learned of their freedom. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves on Sept. 22, 1862. Many slaves in the south, however, didn’t learn about it until June of 1865. On June 19 of that year, a Union general announced that the people of Texas were informed of the slaves’ freedom.
The winners of this year’s writing contest read their essays during the Juneteenth picnic held at Ludlum Park in Riverside.
Three students — Patrick Guice, Abigail Payne and Jayra Barreto — were the overall winners and each received a $50 gift card.
Auset Exum, Simon Solarz and Shania Morris received honorable mentions and each won a $25 gift card.
Robert “Bubbie” Brown, a Riverside resident and an organizer of the celebration, said he believes “all the entries were really excellent this year.”