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Kansas City's Juneteenth events celebrate 'Black people and Black culture'

DJs dance and play music on stage during a DJ Showcase at the Juneteenth Heritage Festival.
Savannah Hawley
KCUR 89.3
DJs dance and play music on stage during a DJ Showcase Kansas City's 2022 Juneteenth Heritage Festival.

Events Saturday and Sunday in Kansas City celebrate the emancipation of enslaved Africans in America and provide opportunities for families to research their history.

Among the events celebrating Juneteenth in Kansas City this year is a genealogy workshop.

Slavery and a lack of documents kept many Black Americans from knowing their families’ full stories. While the lack of records presents challenges for African Americans looking to connect with their ancestors and lineage, Dr. Carmaletta Williams, CEO of the Black Archives of Mid-America, still encourages Black people to try.

"I just caution people to keep your eyes open, keep your hearts open and to remember that the family in Black communities is larger than just biology," Williams said.

Juneteenth KC partnered with Black Archives of Mid-America, Midwest Genealogy Center and MAGIC to host workshops to support people of color who want to trace their family histories.

Music will also be part of the weekend's celebrations. Both enslaved people and free African Americans used music for support, whether it was to work, worship or celebrate.

The KC Defender news site is putting together the city's biggest Juneteenth music festival to date with the One Night Only (ONO) Festival.

"Kansas City has extraordinary talent, especially Black musicians and Black artists," said Ryan Sorrell, the Defender's founder and editor. "We wanted to take this holiday that celebrates Black people and Black culture."

Two of the many artists set to perform are The Royal Chief and CTB Bino. Chief said he was honored to be selected to perform at the festival and to be a part of history.

Bino said he's using the opportunity as motivation to keep working on his craft. He also said the festival is an opportunity for younger generations to understand what Juneteenth actually means.

  • Dr. Carmaletta Williams, CEO of the Black Archives of Mid-America
  • Ryan Sorrell, founder and editor of the Kansas City Defender
  • The Royal Chief, rapper
  • CTB Bino, rapper
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