What does freedom mean to me?

Winners-PartnersWebJacob Perry of McGavock High School is the second-place winner of the Expressions of Freedom National Art Competition for digital short film sponsored by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation. He will receive a $1000 academic scholarship and a national park pass for his film commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Samera Mohamed is the third-place winner of the competition in digital short film and will receive $100 from the Friends of Stones River National Battlefield and a national park pass. "This contest challenged students to share their personal reflections on what freedom means to them – with truly inspiring results," National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said."Their art conveys the enduring themes of our nation's struggles for freedom and equality."

"Through our partnership with CMT and Rocketown in the CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communication at McGavock High School, we have been able to bring the story of the Civil War and emancipation to a new generation of students. Through their creative efforts Jacob and Samera are sharing these significant stories with other students and the public," said Gayle Hazelwood, Superintendent of Stones River National Battlefield.

The nationwide student artistic competition offered youth an opportunity to connect with the many national parks that tell the stories of the nation's journey from Civil War to civil rights – from Stones River National Battlefield to the General Grant National Memorial, from Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park to the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. Competitors used their art to explore the enduring themes of our nation's struggles for freedom and equality for all.

2013 marks the 150thanniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, which spelled out emancipation as the U.S. government's new policy, a vital step on the gradual path to freedom for all Americans.

"Through this unique competition, we honor the American civil rights journey that began more than 150 years ago," said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "The National Park Foundation and its African American Experience Fund applaud the outstanding creativity of the youth participants and we are proud to help America's National Park System ensure the important stories of our nation's history are forever told."

Ten winners and eight honorable mentions were selected from more than 250 student submissions in three categories: photography, poetry and digital short films. Students between the ages of 13-18 years were challenged to answer the question, "What does freedom mean to you?"