SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The South Plainfield Human Relations Committee proposal to sponsor an essay contest inspired by Juneteenth. It is open to all South Plainfield residents in grades 7 -12. Deadline for entries is Wednesday, June 9th. See below for more information. 


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 South Plainfield Borough and South Plainfield Human Relations Committee are highlighting and promoting awareness at the June 21st  council meeting by proclamation and announcement of our essay winner and participate in sharing and celebrating the strength, resilience and enduring contributions of African Americans.

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 Wednesday, June 9th.



The contest is open to all students in grades 7 through 12 who are residents of South Plainfield during the contest period, Now through June 9th, 2021. 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 (9-12) and 350-500 words in length for middle school (7-8) 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:
  • Subject line in email: Human Relations Committee Juneteenth Essay 2021
  • 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
  • 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 9th, 2021.

Selection of Winners

Two essays -- one from middle school (7-8) and one from high school (9-12)-- will be selected as winners, and each student will be given the opportunity have their winning essay on the Borough’s Website for the months of June and July.  In addition, each winner will receive a monetary prize of $100 and all participants will receive a certificate of participation.


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

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 South Plainfield Human Relations Committee 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.