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WELCOME to KANSAS CITY JUNETEENTH

We are excited for this year’s celebration! There will be lots of activities, events, and opportunities to become a part of the biggest celebration of the year! If you are here, you are in the right place! Our site will provide everything Juneteenth! Our heritage is to be remembered and celebrated. Join us in our celebration.

This year is a 3-day celebration for Juneteenth, beginning with a pre-kick off on May 22, 2021. Please see below for the schedule of Events.

  • April 30, 2021 Black National Anthem Online Auditions
  • May 22, 2021 “Steppin’ Under the Stars” A KC 2-Step Reunion Pre-Kick-off at 9922 Holmes
  • June 18, 2021 Miss Kansas City Juneteenth Pageant at Union Station
  • June 18, 2021 “All Black Everything” Kick-off Party Featuring K Camp at Union Station
  • June 19, 2021 Juneteenth Festival at Blue Hills Park
  • June 20, 2021 Gospel Explosion at Blue Hills Park

So much to do! Hope to see you there. Kansas City Juneteenth is a family and community celebration. Join us!

The History of Juneteenth

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in GalvestonTexas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox Court House two months earlier in Virginia, but slavery had remained relatively unaffected in Texas—until U.S. General Gordon Granger stood on Texas soil and read General Orders No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

The Emancipation Proclamation 

The Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, had established that all enslaved people in Confederate states in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” 

But in reality, the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t instantly free any enslaved people. The proclamation only applied to places under Confederate control and not to slave-holding border states or rebel areas already under Union control. However, as Northern troops advanced into the Confederate South, many enslaved people fled behind Union lines.

Juneteenth and Slavery in Texas

In Texas, slavery had continued as the state experienced no large-scale fighting or significant presence of Union troops. Many enslavers from outside the Lone Star State had moved there, as they viewed it as a safe haven for slavery.

After the war came to a close in the spring of 1865, General Granger’s arrival in Galveston that June signaled freedom for Texas’s 250,000 enslaved people. Although emancipation didn’t happen overnight for everyone—in some cases, enslavers withheld the information until after harvest season—celebrations broke out among newly freed Black people, and Juneteenth was born. That December, slavery in America was formally abolished with the adoption of the 13th Amendment.

The year following 1865, freedmen in Texas organized the first of what became the annual celebration of “Jubilee Day” on June 19. In the ensuing decades, Juneteenth commemorations featured music, barbecues, prayer services and other activities, and as Black people migrated from Texas to other parts of the country the Juneteenth tradition spread. 

In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday. Today, 47 states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday, while efforts to make it a national holiday have so far stalled in Congress. -by Elizabeth Nix

Kansas City Juneteenth 2021

Meet the Organizers

Sheoni Givens, Co-Chair

SG@KCJuneteenth.org

Cortez Garlington, Co-Chair

CG@KCJuneteenth.org

Kansas City Juneteenth is a 501C3 tax exempt public charity.

Proud members of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation

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