Juneteenth celebrations in Kansas City kicked off on Saturday. Here’s how to participate
The day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States was declared a federal holiday last year. Here are some ways you can celebrate.
Drill teams, drumlines and floats paraded down East 18th Street Saturday, marking the beginning of Juneteenth celebrations in Kansas City with the fifth annual JuneteenthKC Cultural Parade. For Monique Wilkerson, the parade and the holiday are about people of all races coming together to make change.
“It does take a village to raise a child, but our children are watching how we interact with one another,” Wilkerson, who attended the parade with her husband, David, said. “So it's so important that we show them that we can come together, even in this city, even regardless of what has happened in the past, we can change the future.”
Juneteenth commemorates the end of chattel slavery and celebrates the history and culture of African Americans. The holiday marks June 19, 1865, the date when federal troops in Galveston, Texas, told residents that all enslaved people were free. The proclamation in Texas came two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Though the holiday has been celebrated by many for decades it has waxed and waned in mainstream culture. Last year, President Biden signed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
David Wilkerson, who was born and raised in Chicago, said he didn’t know about Juneteenth until he moved to Kansas City, which in his eyes highlights why people need to be educated on Black history.
“I want us to realize Black lives matter when it matters to Black lives. So let us get it right first. And then everybody else join the bandwagon. Let us show that we can unite as one without hurting each other all the time,” Wilkerson said.
“Plus, people died so you can have these rights. Some people don't even know who Martin Luther King is. All they know is that we got a holiday. Well, you don't know what he did, what he went through. You know? So we have to teach Black and white [people] these things.”
La’Tanya Fleming was at the parade with her daughter and two granddaughters. She said she’s been a part of Juneteenth celebrations in Kansas City for years. Her mother was crowned Miss Juneteenth back in the ’90s and kept her heavily involved in social justice work.
“I grew up as a young girl within the struggle and with my mother and we were out fighting for our rights and the rights of all people and my mother just was in that industry. It [Juneteenth] means a lot to me, my family and all of us,” Fleming said.
Jabrandion Douglas was perched on a wall with his three siblings watching the parade. He said it was his and his family’s first time at the JuneteenthKC parade.
“I just love seeing the Black community come together. Especially right now towards, like, what the country is doing right now,” Douglas said. “So it’s nice to see Black love and see all the kids dancing and see all the good music and just have fun.”
This year, Juneteenth falls on a Sunday, so the federal holiday will be observed on Monday, June 20. Here are some ways to celebrate in the coming days:
June 5: Sunday Dinner: A Concert with Brian Kennedy and Special Guests
The Nelson Atkins Museum, 2:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. Doors open at 2 p.m.
Four-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter, composer and performer Brian Kennedy is a Kansas City native and alumnus of Paseo High School. He’ll join Chris Goode, his friend and the owner and CEO of Ruby Jean's Juicery, to share insights about music selections. Tickets are $30 for the public and $24 for members. Purchase tickets here.
June 10: Artist talk with Shinique Smith
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 6 p.m. - 7p.m.
Join multidisciplinary artist Shinique Smith for a discussion in conjunction with her Juneteenth KC performance, “Breathing Room: Evocation”. Tickets are free, but you can register here.
June 11: Juneteenth at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center
Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Take part in a community art project, listen to speakers and jazz performances, enjoy food and beverage samples from Black-owned businesses and more for the first ever Juneteenth celebration at JCAHC. More details can be found here.
June 11: Juneteenth Jumpoff Reloaded
The Black Pantry, Noon to 4p.m.
Join the Black Pantry and KC Black Owned for drinks, food, music and Black-owned vendors. Click here to see a list of vendors.
June 18: Juneteenth 2022 Heritage Festival – United We Stand
18th and Vine District, Noon to 10 p.m.
The Juneteenth Heritage Festival will feature a gospel jubilee, local musicians, pony rides, a margarita making competition and more. Details can be found at this website.
June 18: JuneteenthKC Brunch & Learn: The Past, Current, and Future of Housing and Racial Equity in Kansas City & Nationwide
Black Archives of Mid-America, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Learn about housing and racial equity from panelists Mayor Quinton Lucas, Councilwoman Melissa Robinson, state Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove and others. Find more details here.