Shirt Fest

Voting for Juneteenth University’s Shirt Fest 2020 contest has ended. Thanks to everyone who participated in the competition! Two sets of results will be sent to each of the contestants. Set 1: Total vote count. Set 2: Vote count minus duplicated votes. Duplicated votes occur when a candidate receives 2 or more votes from the same device within a short time period.

Phoenix, Arizona

Mississippi County, Arkansas
Kansas City, Missouri
Cincinnati, Ohio

Denton, Texas
Renton, Washington

About this contest

Since its origin in 1866, the annual emancipation celebration called Juneteenth has survived an array of challenges, restrictions, and hindrances, including the 1920 flu epidemic, the Great Depression, and laws against use of public facilities. During World War I, food shortages prevented traditional Juneteenth feasts and picnics. During the latter 1940’s through early 1960’s, Juneteenth celebrations were considered incompatible with social progress and the civil rights movement. Ironically, it was a civil rights happenstance during the mid-1960’s that ignited the national appreciation for Juneteenth which continues to spread even today.

Enter Mr. COVID-19. Regrettably, that unwelcome guest may have cancelled more Juneteenth celebrations this year than the total number of celebrations held during its early 1900’s peak. That possibility is plausible because back then, the celebration was a Texas-only event. Now, commemorations occur globally. Yet, despite Mr. COVID’s best effort, he too has failed to squash the jubilee. Rather than surrendering, numerous celebrations became virtual events featuring videos, games, and much more, all available on-line.

Juneteenth University’s is representative of Mr. COVID’s failure. It’s primary task is to provide everyone an opportunity to participate in Juneteenth, safely. That includes celebrants from coast to coast in our largest cities and our most remote rural communities. Shirt Fest effectuates that mission. After all, the significance of Juneteenth is not determined by how we celebrate freedom and independence, but that we do so boldly and inclusively, without permission.

Therein, participating in this simple activity is a message to ourselves affirming that we cannot, should not and will not forget our past, or be subjugated ever again.

How This Contest Originated

In early April 2020, when it became apparent that Juneteenth was in danger, a national search for celebration organizers was conducted. In May, participation invitations were issued to all celebrations that could be found. Regrettably, by then, many celebrations had been cancelled and their planning teams were no longer accessible. Even so, celebrations in six states joined this simple, but symbolic pursuit. Only t-shirts with original designs promoted by Juneteenth Celebration planners were eligible to compete. Shirts not sponsored by a celebration committee were not eligible.

The virtual gathering reflects a tradition of the earliest celebrations. In the 1800s, African American communities across the state of Texas would assemble in designated locations to celebrate collectively. Though Juneteenth Shirt Fest is far from a traditional activity, its message remains the same: freedom is precious, collectively treasured and non-negotiable.

Next year

It is the intent of Juneteenth University that this contest will be held annually. Did your city miss this opportunity? To prepare for next year, CLICK HERE to review the original rules. NOTE: Since so many celebrations were cancelled, the rules were altered to include shirts from previous years.