Planting seeds

Juneteenth: Writing for Social Change


Writing is a powerful tool for planting seeds of social change. Throughout history, writers have shined a light on injustice and unleashed their moral imagination in creating a brighter future. According to acclaimed writer and poet, James Baldwin: “you write in order to change the world.” Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute is committed to inspiring and equipping the next generation of writers and change agents.
We are proud to announce our latest children’s book writing competition entitled: Writing for Social Change. It will be held in conjunction with a four-part workshop series. The goal is to foster reflective representation in children’s literature. It promotes literacy and encourages youth of color to dream big and picture themselves as anything they want to be. This is critically important when you are more likely to see a black dog or black bear on the cover of a children’s book than a Black boy or Black girl. A mere 10 percent of children’s books feature a Black character.
Our goal with the writing contest is to train BIPOC adult literary artists to use the arts as a strategic tool for community building and social change advocacy. The contest will be for a 300-word children’s picture book for reading ages 4 to 8. Manuscript submissions can be fiction or non-fiction. The contest is open to Minnesota residents of African American heritage that are 18 years of age and over. Submissions must be received by Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. The winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000, 10 copies of their published book, and will be honored during the annual PPGJLI community celebration. The winning manuscript will be selected by a community panel of judges.
We are extremely fortunate to have Deborah Ahenkorah Osei-Agyekum as our guest presenter at the writer’s workshop. Born in Accra, Ghana, she is a global advocate for literacy and has worked for the last decade to find solutions for eliminating childhood literacy challenges. She co-founded the children’s literacy NGO, Golden Baobab, and works to inspire African writers and illustrators to create children’s content and publish their work. Other guest presenters are award-winning author Bukola Oriola and senior literary manager Sera Rivers.
The workshop series will provide BIPOC artists with the tools to imagine and create culturally diverse children’s books. The series provides writers with an opportunity to learn about the design and writing process for crafting children’s books from experienced literary artists.
The theme for the competition is Juneteenth. This theme is related to liberation and freedom.
History of Juneteenth
Juneteenth is also called our nation’s “Second Independence.” In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring freedom for all enslaved people in the rebellion states (Confederacy) on January 1, 1863. The South sought to preserve slavery and keep Black people in a permanent class of second-class citizenship. The proclamation served as a turning point for the Black community in the southern states that had seceded from the Union. They would stand and courageously fight for their own freedom in the Civil War.
However, freedom did not become a reality for the Black community of Galveston Bay, Texas until June 19, 1865. Union troops arrived and announced to the more than 250,000 enslaved Black people that they were free. This day was called “Juneteenth.” It is still celebrated today as a reminder of the importance of freedom and justice.
The Writing for Social Change competition is an excellent opportunity for anyone to aid in social change by promoting literacy and sharing about the history of Juneteenth. Minnesota residents have the unique chance to provide children with inspiration, role models, and the impetus for change. Remember, the wise words of the legendary writer Toni Morrison: “books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind.”
Challenge yourself and change the world today by submitting your book in the Writing for Social Change competition.
Enter today:
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Through her organization, Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute, Dr. Artika Tyner seeks to plant seeds of social change through education, training, and community outreach.


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