Iowa City and Johnson County area students put their creativity to paper as part of the 2015 Juneteenth celebration’s essay and visual art contest, and event organizers have now announced the contest winners. The competition, implemented as part of the fifth annual celebration, was sponsored by Johnson County and the City of Iowa City.

2015 Juneteenth art contest winner Sarah Elon Rantala's piece, "Mask of our Past."
Titled, “Understanding the Struggle: The Journey Continues,” the contest included a two-dimensional visual art competition for students aged 5 to 18, and a written essay competition for 14- to 18-year-olds. Art contest winners are Sarah Elon Rantala for “Mask of our Past” and Feza Matiyabo for “Still in Chains.” Both students will receive a plaque in their names and a prize of $50 for their winning entries.

Written essay competitors were asked to write about the progress and ongoing struggle for equal rights in Iowa and the United States. Kayla Adams took the top spot with “Understanding the Struggle of Colored People.” She will receive a plaque in her name and a prize of $150.

The students will be recognized as part of the Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 27. The event is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center, 220 S. Gilbert Street in Iowa City.

Juneteenth, often referred to as the African American Emancipation Day, is a national observance marking the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865. This year is the 150th anniversary of the Juneteenth celebration.

Other scheduled Juneteenth events include an informational display on the history of slavery and Black Iowans; live music and a variety of live entertainment; an indoor health fair; and food, games and activities for the whole family. There is no fee to attend, and the public is invited to participate.

For more information, visit or contact LaTasha DeLoach, Johnson County Social Services, at 319-356-6090 or

Date of publication

Friday, June 19, 2015