Douglas County students invited to apply to 2024 Lawrence Juneteenth T-shirt design, essay contests

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Douglas County students could have their work featured in this year’s Lawrence Juneteenth celebration. The annual T-shirt design and essay contests are now open.

The summertime celebration brings art and food vendors, community organizations, music and history lessons for folks to enjoy downtown Lawrence. Community members join to honor Juneteenth, observed on June 19 to commemorate the final group of enslaved Black people learning of their emancipation.

Paying homage to the Black national anthem, the theme of the 2024 Lawrence Juneteenth celebration is “Lift Every Voice.”

Douglas County middle and high schoolers are invited to participate in the T-shirt design contest, and the essay contest is open to Douglas County high schoolers. Both contests are based on the theme, and winners are awarded onstage as part of the celebration.

T-shirt design contest

Each year, one design is selected to be printed on the official Lawrence Juneteenth T-shirts. The T-shirts are promoted before and seen throughout the celebration.

Middle and high school students — individuals and groups — can submit a design in response to the 2024 theme of “Lift Every Voice.” The individual winner will earn $300, or the $300 prize will be divided among members in a victorious group.

T-shirt design submissions are due by Saturday, Feb. 3 and should be sent via email to

High school student Gus Peters won last year’s Lawrence Juneteenth T-shirt design contest. Peters’ design featured trees in Pan-African colors sprouting from a person and reads, “Power for change is in us all.”

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Gus Peters accepts his award for winning the 2023 Lawrence Juneteenth T-shirt design contest.

Essay contest

Lawrence Juneteenth organizers aim to empower young voices through an essay contest. Each year, applicants write about their experiences and thoughts on social impact.

Last year’s theme challenged applicants to consider what they would use their power to change. High school student Javon Allen won for his piece on navigating anger in youth. He presented a speech and accepted his award during the celebration.

With the 2024 theme as Lift Every Voice, applicants will respond to this question: “What is the importance of having a voice?”

Essays must include 500 to 1,000 words. The top three winners will be awarded cash prizes: the first place winner will earn $500; second place, $300; and third place, $200.

Submissions to the 2024 essay contest are due Friday, Feb. 2 and should be sent to Alex Lewis via email at Applicants must also send their name, grade and school in a separate email to Lewis before submitting their work.

Visit Lawrence Juneteenth’s website,, for complete details on submission guidelines and requirements for both contests. For questions, email

The 2024 Lawrence Juneteenth celebration is scheduled for Saturday, June 15. As the event draws closer, see updates on its website and its Facebook page, Lawrence, Ks Juneteenth.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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Kaw Valley Almanac for July 15-21, 2024

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Gray coneflower, Ratibida pinnata, is a long blooming native perennial whose name refers to the gray cone under the brown disk florets, here being visited by a bumblebee interested in their sweet nectar.


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