UNION, NJ – The Vauxhall Historical Society awarded three winners in their Black History Essay Contest at a ceremony Tuesday night.

At the ceremony, held at the Congressman Donald M. Payne Vauxhall Meeting Center, Vauxhall Historical Society members presented awards to essay contest winners Laura Chaves, Christopher Davis, and Selomae Henok, who then presented their winning essays.

The contest, open to all fifth graders, required students to write an essay about one of three topics:  An essay on what the recent movie “Harriet” meant to them; an essay on an African American in history who is unknown to most people; or an original poem which reflects the African American experience in America.

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First place was awarded to Laura Chaves, who wrote an original poem entitled “See What They See”.  Second place went to Christopher Davis who wrote an essay about a slave named Robert Smalls.  And Selomae Henok took third place with her essay about Harriet Tubman.

“I wanted to do this because it was important to me to write about Black history,” said Chaves, 11, “and about how their journey started.”

“I decided to enter the contest because I wanted to talk about how Black history is so valuable,” said Davis, 10, “and I wanted to talk about someone who made a big difference in Black history.”

“I wanted to write about Harriet Tubman because I actually always wanted to do an essay about her,” said Henok.  “I was very excited to win third place in the contest.”

“Eight years ago, the Vauxhall Historical Society in celebration of Black History Month decided to have an essay contest,” said Society member Linda Lewis.  “We’ve had an overwhelming response to our request for essays.”