Not Just for Kids

What Is Freedom?
by Mary Catherine Ball

With the Fourth of July, America's Independence Day upon us, what are you thinking about?

Fireworks. British colonies. Declaration of Independence. Freedom.

But what is freedom? Do we only think about it one day each year?

The month of June marks a special freedom for African Americans. It is the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the document that freed slaves.

But once again, what is freedom?

Benjamin Banneker and Frederick Douglass were two of many men and women who fought for their freedom and the freedom of slaves. That is why the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis held the essay contest, What Freedom Means To Me. They wanted to find out what freedom means to Maryland children.

This contest centered on the celebration of Juneteenth. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers first told slaves in Texas of their new freedom. Every year, African Americans remember this event as Juneteenth. It is a special time to celebrate that freedom.

African American author Ralph Ellison tells of this feeling and the new chance given to the slaves in his novel Juneteenth.

This year the Banneker-Douglass Museum received over 200 essays. They chose first- and second-place winners from elementary, middle and high schoolers.

Think about what freedom means to you when you read these paragraphs from the winning entries:

It is like a wind going around in the air with the voice of people who die saying freedom is coming a song that flies around with the people who died and always will go around forever and ever a candle because at first it lights up, then it dies out and it is gone like flowers blooming in the air with wind blowing it around and around.

-- Antoinette Roberts, Matthew Henson Elementary School,Baltimore

The power to say what is on my mind. I belong to no one and no one belongs to me. It lets me know that I am free to be anything that inspires me. And freedom is being able to help others, without looking at their skin color.

-- Sherrita Beard, Chesapeake High School, Pasadena

Freedom of the mind is the most important freedom I believe anyone can possess. So many people only see black and white, not gray and through their eyes they only see what is in front of them and not what is beyond. These people do not believe they have power over their own lives but they do.

I believe that you must break out of the mold that you have built around yourself and try to go for what is beyond. To me freedom defined means power in yourself, responsibility, courage and above all dignity.

-- Jaimey McClurkin, Old Mill Middle School, Millersville

Freedom Quizschool maze

What is the Fourth of July?

a. the day that American Minutemen bombed England

b. the day George Washington crossed the Jersey Turnpike

c. the day George Washington hit a home run with his cherry tree bat

d. the day the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence


What is Juneteenth?

a. the day after Mayteenth

b. celebration of the freeing of slaves

c. the missing day in leap year

d. a teen magazine



Kids' Calendar

Write Your Life Thurs. July 1 (7-8pm)-Write down your dreams. Keep track of your adventures. Local author Sandra Travis-Bildahl talks about The Ship's Log for Kids. Barnes & Noble, Annapolis Harbour Center: 410/573-1115.

Beautiful Butterflies Sat. July 3 (1-3pm)-Summer brings out butterflies. Learn about their life cycles. Create a butterfly garden. Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Lothian. $2.50 w/discounts, rsvp: 410/741-9330.

Meet an Historic Miller Sat. July 3 (1-4pm)-See a character from the past. Josef Engelbrecht is a Western Maryland miller in 1789. Make a wooden pull-toy. Enjoy this Star-Spangled Saturday at the Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St., Baltimore. $4 with discount: 410/385-2105.

Band an Osprey Sat. July 6 (9-3pm)-Learn how to protect the Patuxent River. Study about ospreys and help band young ones. Patuxent River Park, Upper Marlboro. Ages 12-17. rsvp: 301/627-6074.

Cruise the Night Away Tues. July 9 (6:30-8:30pm)-Float on a sunset cruise in the pontoon boat Otter. See blue herons, ducks, turtles and historic homes. Patuxent River Park, Upper Marlboro. Ages 12-17. $4 w/discounts, rsvp: 301/627-6074.

Read Amelia Bedelia Tues. July 6 (7pm)-Readers in grades 1-3 discuss Play Ball Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish. Borders, Bowie: 301/352-5560.

Kayak Kaper Wed. July 10 (9-noon)-Glide along the Patuxent River in a kayak past turtles and muskrats. See native wild rice in bloom. Learn local history. Patuxent River Park, Upper Marlboro. $12 with discounts, rsvp: 301/627-6074.

Catch Anne Arundel's Reading Wave Thru August 6-Kids entering grades K-8 this fall can sign up for 7 fun-filled weeks of books, games, events and prizes at any Anne Arundel County Public Library's branch. Prizes include passes to Baltimore Zoo, Babe Ruth Museum, Chesapeake Children's Museum and many other places, plus discount coupons to many more. Sign up at any branch beginning June 21: 410/222-1750.

ANSWERS: 1. d; 2. b

| Issue 26 |

Volume VII Number 26
July 1-7, 1999
New Bay Times

| Homepage |
| Back to Archives |