Kansas City kicked-off its Juneteenth celebrations with last Saturday’s JuneteenthKC Parade, and over the next weekend, people in the area will be able to attend more events that commemorate the holiday meant to celebrate the day news of emancipation reached enslaved Black people in Texas.
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is the oldest national celebration of the emancipation of slaves in the United States. It originated when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865 with the news about the freedom of enslaved people — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Kansas City residents will have the chance to celebrate through a number of events, such as concerts, cultural festivals, comedy shows and workshops. Many of the events are meant to educate people about Juneteenth while sprinkling in some fun and good times.
Here is a list of events:
▪ Juneteenth Kick-Off “All Black Everything Party” will take place 6 p.m. Friday at Union Station. The party, presented by Black Bag Boys entertainment and organized by Kansas City Juneteenth, features American rapper KCamp and performances from local artists.
“We wanted to do an event that would bring young people into the mix of what Juneteenth was actually about, so it’s just a it’s just a kickoff party concert,” Sheoni Givens, co-chair of Kansas City Juneteenth, said. “We’ll be talking about Juneteenth, what it means and all the activities going on because a lot of young people still don’t know what it is.”
General admission tickets are available on Eventbrite for $40 plus fees. For VIP tickets, people need to make a reservation by calling D’Mario Gray at 816-806-1010. There are also table reservations for $150. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and masks will be required at the event.
▪ Midtown Church in Kansas City is hosting a prayer in honor of Juneteenth at 7 p.m. Friday at the Delta Athenaeum. People can gather with children five or older. Childcare will be available for younger kids. Masks are required at the event.
▪ Those interested in learning more about the civil rights movement in Kansas City, Black baseball, jazz, Black entrepreneurship and Black history in mid America can go to the Be Bop and Beyond 18th and Vine Walking Tour Juneteenth Edition. It will be at 3 p.m. Friday in the historic 18th and Vine District. Tickets are $21.99 and up to two minors can go for free with an adult.
▪ The JuneteenthKC 2021 Cultural Heritage Festival will feature live music, aerial arts performances, dance competitions and giveaways among other activities for the family. It starts at noon Saturday in the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District. Children activities such as face paintings, storytelling and balloon artists will be held mainly from 1-4 p.m. There will be live music accompanying the event, and the Gospel Jubilee will be on the main stage from noon to 2 p.m with other local artists. There will also be over 150 retail food and nonprofit vendors. The festival goes until 9 p.m. and entrance is free.
▪ In honor of Juneteenth, the museum Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City will be hosting two workshops, “Collecting Keepsakes: How to Decide What Documents and Artifacts to Collect for KEEPSAKES and for HISTORY,” and “Preservation: How to Preserve Your Family Artifacts and Collections.” These will be held 11 a.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. June 26, respectively, at the museum.
▪ The Communities Creating Opportunity organization will be celebrating Juneteenth from 5-8 p.m. Saturday at the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church. They will have vendors, food, drinks, games and family activities accompanied by music from the band Pure Sweetness. The event is free.
▪ This year vaccines will also be part of Juneteenth events. STAND UP for Black Lives, Prairie Village and the NAACP of Johnson County will be commemorating Freedom Day with the community from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturday at Franklin Park. The celebration will feature live music, vendors, a youth poster contest and free vaccinations. The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment will be there offering free Pfizer shots to anyone 12 or older, regardless of residence. Those who only have their first dose of Pfizer will be able to get their second one at the event by showing their vaccination record card.
▪ Kansas City Juneteenth will be hosting the 13th Annual Kansas City Juneteenth Celebration from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday at Blue Hills Park. The festival will feature live bands, local artists, car and bike shows, horse rides, bounce houses, dunk tanks and more family friendly activities. Entrance to the event is free.
▪ Weston, Missouri, will also have its Freedom Day celebration. The Juneteenth Heritage Jubilee “From Slavery to Freedom: Honoring Weston’s Historic Black Residents,” will take place from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday at Ben Holladay Pavilion located in Weston City Park. The event— hosted by Kansas City Jazz legend Angela Hagenbach— will have poetry, storytelling, folk art and history revealed, spoken word and performances by Book of Gaia. Those who are interested in attending are encouraged to take lawn chairs or blankets to the park. In case of rain, the family friendly event will be held in the Weston Burley House, 347 Main Street, Weston, MO.
▪ The comedy show Take The Stand! A Juneteenth Comedy Night will commemorate the holiday with presentations from Ameerah Sanders, Lisa Pockets, Ty Clay, Dorian DeBose, Brock Bristow, Harley Bushdieker. The event will take place 8 p.m. Saturday at the Legends Comedy Club. Tickets are $10 and proceeds will be donated to Stand Up For Equity, a non-profit organization that aims to help minorities in America. Only adults 21 and older can attend the show.
▪ The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will honor Juneteenth in a virtual celebration in partnership with JuneteenthKC. The online commemoration includes the museum’s exhibition “Testimony: African American Artists Collective,” a new performance video, children’s book author Tiffany Taylor and Rozzelle Court Restaurant’s Chef Marcus’s secret BBQ sauce recipe. There is also a citywide scavenger hunt to learn about Kansas City’s Black history.
▪ The Advocacy and Awareness Group of Johnson County partnered with Women of Purpose to organize the 2nd Annual Advocacy and Awareness Peace March and Rally. The event seeks to “pay homage to Juneteenth, celebrate the progress our community has made over the last year and recommit to change for the future,” according to the description on Facebook. The march will start at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Overland Park City Hall and conclude at Thompson Park where the rally will take place until 1 p.m.
If you have an event The Star should add to this list of Juneteenth celebrations in Kansas City, please email Kansas City Star journalists at email@example.com.