Two exceptional teens from our Baltimore Clubs marked Juneteenth by competing in Comcast’s second annual Juneteenth Spoken Word Contest alongside other middle and high school students from the DMV area.
This year’s contest was coordinated by members of the Black Employee Networks (BEN) at Comcast and NBC4 News/Telemundo in partnership with Story Tapestries and two Boys & Girls Club organizations (Metropolitan Baltimore and Greater Washington).
On June 15, 2023, A’Shawnte and Ah’Myir traveled to Washington, DC alongside their Club mentors to perform an original piece inspired by one of the following topics: the history of Juneteenth; the future of equity; freedom, civil rights and social justice; or celebrating Juneteenth freedom.
Ah’Myir’s piece, titled Are We Really Free?, challenged whether Americans have fully embraced Juneteenth as a national holiday positing, “When I think about Juneteenth as our Freedom Day, I feel that we need to break more chains. They say it’s freedom of the slaves, but we still don’t feel free.”
In her poem, titled My Juneteenth Pledge, A’Shawnte brought readers back to 1865 when “In the heat of a Texas summer day,” enslaved people learned of their emancipation. A’Shawnte went on to depict the joy of that day before concluding with a rallying cry:
Let us honor those who paved the way,
Their courage and strength, we still display.
And let us pledge to keep the fight,
For justice and freedom, shining bright.
So let's raise our voices, and make them heard,
For the freedom and justice that's long been deserved.
Let's keep fighting for what's right,
And make Juneteenth a symbol of our might.
The students' poetry was judged by a panel of Comcast/NBC News employees and the winner was awarded a laptop, Amazon shopping spree, and theme park tickets. Although neither Ah’Myir or A’Shawnte took home the prize, both members felt it was a worthwhile experience.
“Giving youth a voice through the Arts is an important element in Boys & Girls Club programming," explained Senior Regional Director Nakita Clark, “and it was particularly powerful for our members to meet and be inspired by their peers’ performances. We look forward to engaging even more of our students in next year’s contest.”