Juneteenth Student Essay Contest for Maplewood-South Orange residents

May 4, 2019

Durand-Hedden House and SOMA Community Coalition on Race Announce the Juneteenth Essay Contest 2019

The Durand-Hedden House and SOMA Community Coalition on Race are co-sponsoring an essay contest inspired by Juneteenth. It is open to all Maplewood and South Orange residents who are students in grades 6 -12. Deadline for entries is June 4th. See below for more information.


Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Juneteenth is a holiday honoring the day on which enslaved people of Texas 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 Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.

The struggle for African American freedom and civil rights in the United States, even after slavery ended, is long and complex, and the story is still being written. The Durand-Hedden House, Maplewood’s historic house museum, and the South Orange-Maplewood Community Coalition on Race are celebrating Juneteenth on June 9th this year with a community festival dedicated to sharing and celebrating the strength, resilience and enduring contributions of African Americans. The festival will be at the Durand-Hedden House, 523 Ridgewood Rd., Maplewood, from 1 to 5 pm.

Essay Topic

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

Communication barriers played a large role in keeping enslaved people in Texas from knowing they had gained freedom in the 1860s. What communication barriers exist between races today? What can we do to overcome these barriers and help people to interact peacefully? What steps can young people in our towns take to bridge any communication divides?

High School: Write a 500- to 1,000-word essay on this topic.

Middle School: Write a 350- to 500-word essay on this topic.

Submission deadline is 11:59 pm Tuesday, June 4.


The contest is open to all students in grades 6 through 12 who are residents of Maplewood and South Orange during the contest period, May 6-June 4, 2019. 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!

  • Essays must be 500-1000 words in length for high school students and 350-500 words in length for middle school students. Submissions that do not meet this requirement, or that exceed it, will 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: contest@durandhedden.org
  • Subject line in email: DH/SOMA Coalition 2019 Essay Contest Entry
  • In the text of the email, please provide the following information:
    • a. Student’s name
    • b. Grade level
    • c. Contact phone number
    • d. Street Mailing address
    • e. Email address
    • f. A statement from the parent or legal guardian:
      “I attest that the attached essay is the work of (name of student) and (name of student) has my permission to enter this contest. (Name and email or phone number of parent or guardian)”
  • 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

All participants submitting valid entries will receive a Supporter-level (Basic) membership to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, valued at $25.


Essays must be submitted no later than 11:59 pm Eastern Time, June 4, 2019.

Rules and Regulations

Students submitting essays to the Contest will be deemed to have consented and agreed to the Rules. Parent or Legal Guardian sign-off on submissions is required for entry and constitutes consent and agreement to the Rules on the part of the parent. Entries without parental/legal guardian consent are not eligible. The Rules are a binding legal agreement between Participants and Durand-Hedden House and Garden Association Inc. (hereafter “Durand-Hedden”) and the South Orange-Maplewood Community Coalition on Race (hereafter “the Coalition”) with respect to the Contest.

Selection of Winners

Two essays -- one from middle school and one from high school -- will be selected as winners, and each student will be given the opportunity to read their winning essay during the Juneteenth celebration on June 9th, 2019 at Durand-Hedden House, 523 Ridgewood Road, Maplewood. In addition, each winner will receive a monetary prize.


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. The student must perform all key tasks of identifying the topic, researching it, analyzing it, formulating positions and arguments, and writing and revising the essay. The student may accept a reasonable amount of advice from others. For example, the student may obtain a parent’s opinion that a proposed topic is a good choice, that a detailed outline should be reorganized, or that a first draft omits a significant subtopic. The student must limit the amount of such advice sought and received so that the final essay truly reflects the student’s own ideas and work, not another’s. Plagiarism is strictly forbidden and will result in immediate disqualification.

Judges and the Judging Process

Essays will be judged on their ability to answer the topic question in an articulate, clear, and organized manner, using historical and contemporary examples. Members of the Durand-Hedden and the Coalition Juneteenth Committee and/or designated others 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. Judges will use pre- specified criteria to score each essay individually, then meet to discuss entries and determine winners. Only after determining winners will identities of individuals be released to the judges. Decisions of the judges are final.


No responsibility is assumed for incorrect or inaccurate entry information whether caused by any equipment or programming associated with or utilized by this contest or by any human error which may occur in the processing of entries into this Contest. Neither Durand-Hedden - nor the Coalition is responsible for lost, late, misdirected, or delayed entries or any problems or technical malfunctions of any telephone network or lines, computer online systems, servers or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of players on account of technical problems, or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website or combination thereof.

If, for any reason, the Contest is not able to be conducted as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of Durand-Hedden and the Coalition that corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this contest or for any reason Durand-Hedden and the Coalition deems necessary, Durand-Hedden and the Coalition reserve the right to cancel, modify, or delay the Contest.

Ownership and Use

The ownership of any submission remains the property of the writer, but entry into the competition constitutes the entrant's permission and consent, without compensation, with or without attribution, for Durand-Hedden and the Coalition to use, reproduce, transmit, post, distribute, adapt, edit, and/or display the submission, including, but not limited to, posting on Durand-Hedden’s and/or the Coalition’s website, Facebook page or other public forum. Entrant forever waives all right of privacy, right of publicity, intellectual property rights, and all other legal or moral rights that may preclude Durand-Hedden and the Coalition’s use of the essay as described supra, or would require the participant’s permission for Durand-Hedden and the Coalition to use them for in the manner described supra, and agrees never to sue or assert any claim against Durand-Hedden or the Coalition, its affiliates, legal representatives, assigns, agents, licensees, for their use, or anyone else’s use of the essay.

Entrant hereby releases and shall indemnify and hold Durand-Hedden, the Coalition and their affiliates, legal representatives, assigns, agents and licensees and their respective officers, directors, agents, co- branders, and other partners, and any of their employees and agents (collectively, the “Indemnitees”) harmless from any and all claims, damages, expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees, whether incurred as the result of a third-party claim or a claim to enforce the Rules), costs, and liabilities (including settlements) brought or asserted by any third party against any Indemnitee(s) due to or arising directly or indirectly out of: (i) the essay; (ii) participant’s conduct during and in connection with the Contest, including, but not limited to, infringement or misappropriation of any intellectual property rights or violation of any right of publicity or privacy, defamation, or other improper conduct; (iii) any claim(s) that any commercial, advertising, presentation, web content or any other material subsequently produced, presented, and/or prepared by or on behalf of any Indemnitee infringes on the rights of participant’s work as contained in the submission.

General conditions

No substitute prizes are offered except at the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Prizes are non- transferable.

The Contest is governed by the laws of the State of New Jersey. Any dispute which cannot be amicably resolved regarding the Contest, including any document, shall be resolved in the federal or state courts located in Essex County, New Jersey, and participant and anyone claiming through participant hereby consents to the exclusive personal jurisdiction of such courts in such event.


Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state, or local taxes on winnings.

Laws and Regulations

This contest is governed by U.S. law and all relevant federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. By entering, Participants agree that the competition shall be governed by the laws of the State of New Jersey, that the courts of New Jersey shall have exclusive jurisdiction, and that Essex County, New Jersey shall be the venue for any dispute or litigation relating to or arising from the competition. Void where prohibited by law.

Privacy Statement

Participant agrees that personally identifying information (“PII”) of the Participant, including, but not limited to, name, mailing address, phone number, and email address, may be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used for the purposes of conducting and administering the Contest as Durand- Hedden and the Coalition deem proper. Further, PII may also be used by Durand-Hedden and the Coalition to verify a Participant’s identity, communication address, and telephone number. If a Participant does not provide all the information requested as outlined under “How to submit an entry”, that Participant’s Submission will be disqualified.

Availability Disclaimer

The administration of the Contest, including, without limitation, determining the eligibility of a student or entry, selecting of a judge, evaluating any submitted entry, and awarding of the prizes, is within the sole and absolute discretion of Durand-Hedden and the Coalition. No student or teacher, or person or organization related thereto, has a right to appeal, contest, dispute, or otherwise challenge any aspect of the administration of the Contest, and any decision of Durand-Hedden and the Coalition is final in all respects.

Next Event

October 20, 2019, 2:00 PM

Theodore Roosevelt Returns

Don’t miss Theodore Roosevelt’s resplendent return to Maplewood on Sunday, October 20, at 2:00 p.m. at Jefferson School sponsored by the Durand-Hedden House. Teddy once roamed the hills and meadows of our town as a boy exploring nature while visiting his Uncle Cornelius’s estate, now the Roosevelt Park section. Expertly played by historic interpreter Joe Wiegand, Theodore Roosevelt will come back to reconnect with Maplewood and vividly share stories of his life, family, and presidency.

Afterwards, light refreshments will be served at Durand-Hedden and there will be an opportunity to mingle with the exuberant 26th President of the U.S. The exhibit on the history of slavery in New Jersey will also be on view. The Country Store will be open until 5:00 p.m.

Support Us

Membership in the Durand-Hedden House & Garden Association is open to all. Please consider your membership an invitation to join us as a volunteer or docent educator.