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Here’s How and Where to Honor Juneteenth in 2021

Your Guide to Events, Education and More

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Above image credit: Looking for ways to observe Juneteenth? Here's the Flatland rundown. (Unsplash)
Coretta Scott King speaking at Rosa Parks’ birthday gala in 1990. (Library of Congress)

“Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.”

— Coretta Scott King, author, activist and civil rights leader

On June 7, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, Councilwoman Melissa Robinson and other city leaders approved an ordinance to establish June 18 as a paid holiday for city workers in honor of Juneteenth.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed into law legislation declaring a federal holiday annually on June 19, the date marking the end of slavery in the U.S. 

These are two signals of many that there is a growing understanding of its importance. Community members, entrepreneurs, historians, politicians and educators continue the effort to honor the day that Black people who were enslaved were officially declared as “free.” However, the struggle to establish freedom and equality continues today, advocates and educators said.  

“You have people who are protesting the same types of systemic racism … all around the world …,” said Daive Dunkley, a historian at the University of Missouri, in an interview last June with Flatland’s The Filter podcast. “(They) recognize injustices against Black (people) also (are) intersected with injustices with minorities in other countries. Juneteenth is not about an event but about a process that has yet to be fully realized.”

This year also marks 10 years since Black Archives of Mid-America-Kansas City founder Horace Peterson brought Juneteenth from Texas to Kansas City. His daughter Makeda Petterson founded, leads and curates JuneteenthKC, a nonprofit dedicated to education, celebration and also serving as a hub for resources.

Click the link for a full list of what JuneteenthKC has planned for this year’s celebration.

Here’s another list of events around the Kansas City metro area:

Black Bag Boys presents Juneteenth Kick-Off – June 18 from 7 – 11 p.m. at Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road

KC Kindness’s Juneteenth Heart to Help drive-through food and personal items giveaway, on-site COVID vaccine clinic and community support day event. This event is supported by Harvesters – The Community Food Network, HappyBottoms.org, KC CARE Health Center and numerous other nonprofits.

Thank You, Black America – The Pop-Up – June 19th from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 325 E. 31st St.

SOTV “Free Your Mind” Juneteenth Open House – June 19th at 10 a.m. (virtual)

Juneteenth Festival at Blue Hills Park – June 19 from noon – 9 p.m. in Independence.

JuneteenthKC 2021 Heritage Festival – June 19 from noon – 9 p.m. at 18th and Vine. 

Prairie Village Juneteenth Celebration – June 19 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 7825 Mission Road in Prairie Village, Kansas.

Brush up on Juneteenth history and why it matters:

  1. Watch this spoken word by J.P. Haley, a Flatland producer, for a creative way to learn Juneteenth history.
  2. What is the significance of Juneteenth? Was slavery ever truly abolished? Learn the history of the commemorative day and why it’s still important today in this episode of The Filter, Flatland’s culture podcast, with hosts Vicky Diaz-Camacho and Ieshia Downton. Stream wherever you listen to your podcasts.
  3. What’s the local impact of this day? Learn what community members did to commemorate the day last year in this piece about Pray on Troost, organized by faith leaders in the metro.
  4. Have young children and need a shorter way to learn this history? Watch this minute-long PBS Learning Media video on Juneteenth in its series “All About the Holidays.”
  5. Want a deeper understanding of the topic? PBS Passport members can stream this special docu-series, “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.

Need a place to learn more? Here’s a list of Black-owned bookstores in the area, recently featured in Oprah Mag:

Vicky Diaz-Camacho covers community affairs for Kansas City PBS. Catherine Hoffman covers community affairs and culture for Kansas City PBS in cooperation with Report for America.

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