By Donna Cope
Six talented students in the Birmingham metro area are winners of the Juneteenth essay contest sponsored by Summit Media and Alabama Power, taking home book scholarships and/or financial awards to be used at the college of their choice.
Justin Ragland, Promotions, Marketing and Event director of Summit Media, said the winners provided original content that honored the enduring history and mission of Juneteenth. President Joe Biden signed a bill June 17, 2021 that established Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
“We always have and will continue to pay tribute to our African American community,” said Ragland, who, for two decades has promoted Summit Media’s six Birmingham radio stations. “Great achievements of African Americans are woven into the fabric of Alabama and American history. We pay homage to the culture in education, sports, politics, science and business, and now it’s our time to help pave the way for our Birmingham metro area students by securing their future and higher education.”
Here are the winners and their scholarship-winning submissions:
- Little Miss Juneteenth (ages 8-11) $1,000 book scholarship: Layla Hayden, Meadowview Elementary School.
- Junior Miss Juneteenth (ages 12-15) $1,500 book scholarship: Laineya Revel, Birmingham.
- Miss Juneteenth (ages 16-18) $2,000 scholarship to a college of choice: Bailee Washington, Helena Elementary School.
- Prince Juneteenth (ages 8-11) $1,000 book scholarship: CJ Williams, Bumpus Middle School.
- Junior Juneteenth (ages 12-15) $1,500 book scholarship: Dezmond Lawson, A.H. Parker High School.
- Juneteenth (ages 16-18) $2,000 scholarship to a HBCU: Parker Jenkins, Ramsay High School.
Mr. Juneteenth winner Jenkins said that the $2,000 award will help pay for his books when he attends Alabama A&M University this fall. Looking forward to college moving day Aug. 13, Jenkins plans to study computer science, with a focus on cyber security and AI (artificial intelligence) technology. Jenkins considers computers and AI as the “wave of the future.” He first developed an interest in AI in eighth grade, when he built and raced a solar car.
“I’m very excited,” said Jenkins, who took part in Ramsay High School’s Engineering Academy and the Gifted and Talented Education program from August 2018 through graduation. “My family is very appreciative and blessed that I received the scholarship. I felt relieved, knowing that it would help pay for books.”
“I can’t wait to get started on the next chapter of my life,” Jenkins added.
Lawson, a rising junior at Parker High School, sees Juneteenth as a day to celebrate freedom and to rejoice.
“Juneteenth is Black American’s true independence day, and I believe that is more important than the Fourth of July, and African Americans should treat it as such, embracing our heritage,” Lawson said in his video submission.
In her winning essay, Washington wrote, “It’s a blessing that President Biden recognized this monumental day and declared Juneteenth a national holiday. Other government branches, organizations and companies are starting to recognize it as well. Juneteenth uplifts what my people mean to this country, our contributions and our right to have the same liberties as all. It finally gives my people a voice to be recognized and heard. I’m freed, allowed to have opportunities that my ancestors weren’t given. This is why Juneteenth has so much significance to me.”
This story appeared originally on www.alabamanewscenter.com