Emancipation Proclamation Contest
What Does Freedom Mean to You?
Student Art Contest Commemorates 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation
Fort Scott, KS - Calling all teenage film makers, poets, and photographers! The National Park Service, in partnership with the National Park Foundation's African American Experience Fund, today launched Expressions of Freedom, a nationwide artistic competition to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
"The issue that was at the heart of the Civil War - the continual struggle for equality for all - remains relevant today," said Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. "This contest encourages young people to reflect on their own personal meanings of freedom and creatively express those thoughts."
Expressions of Freedom is designed to connect student artists to the significance of the American Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the system of national parks that commemorate events associated with the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement.
Some of the more unique stories of the Civil War are told at Fort Scott National Historic Site. While other sites focus on battles, Fort Scott's Civil War story is that of a town that became a major base of Union operations crucial to the survival and success of soldiers in this area. Military activity supported a supply depot, recruitment center, general hospital, military prison, and refugee camps. Many of these refugees became soldiers in African American and American Indian units, making Fort Scott the scene of one of the most diverse groups of soldiers in the Union Army. Recruitment of both groups met with resistance but Union commanders prevailed.
The First Kansas Colored Infantry Regiment was recruited in August 1862. In October, at Island Mound, Missouri, it became the first African American regiment to engage the Confederates in combat. Their courageous stand prompted one of their commanders to say that they "fought like tigers" When the Emancipation Proclamation became official in January of 1863, black soldiers were accepted into Federal service. The 1st Kansas Colored Infantry mustered in to Federal service on January 13 on the grounds of the old fort.
Then there is the story of African American education. While the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry had advanced the freedom of African Americans, black schools at Fort Scott would advance their equality. From 1865 to 1956, four African-American schools were located on or adjacent to the land that now comprises Fort Scott National Historic Site. Several prominent African-Americans attended these schools including George Washington Carver and Gordon Parks.
Contest submissions will be accepted from students 13 to 18 years old in three categories - photography, poetry, and digital short films. The first-place winner in each category will receive a $2,500 academic scholarship and the second-place winner will receive a $1,000 academic scholarship. The deadline for entries is October 15, 2012. Details, including instructions on how to submit are available at http://www.nps.gov/freedom. For further details about Fort Scott specific stories visit our website at www.nps.gov/fosc or contact Park Ranger Barak Geertsen at 620-223-0310.
Did You Know?
Fort Scott never did have a wall around it. It was built upon a bluff which had three steep sides and opened up to prairie in a gradual slope on the south. Many forts were not built with walls at the time; the fort with a stockade is more a product of Hollywood mythology than actual fact.