Juneteenth in Johnson County — Here’s how to celebrate and learn more about the holiday

Juneteenth in Overland Park 2021

There's a number of Juneteenth events this month in Johnson County. Above, a Juneteenth event last year in Overland Park. File photo.

There are several ways to celebrate Juneteenth in Johnson County this year.

Why it matters: Juneteenth is the day that commemorates the day in 1865 when slaves in Galveston, Texas, were told by Union troops that they had been formally freed more than two years earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation.

  • Juneteenth was made a federal holiday last year, and there were some local celebrations then.
  • Now, Johnson County is recognizing Juneteenth as a countywide holiday for the first time, with the day this year being officially recognized on June 20, since June 19 falls on a Sunday.
  • While city and county offices will be closed on June 20, there’s a number of actual events happening in Johnson County to celebrate Juneteenth.

Take a look at the different celebrations and educational events taking place around Juneteenth in Johnson County this year, staring this weekend:

Juneteenth at Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center

Redlining exhibit Johnson County Museum
REDLINING exhibit at Johnson County Museum. Photo via Johnson County Museum Facebook.

The center’s first-ever Juneteenth commemoration event is on Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Attendees can expect the following:

  • Food samples from Black-owned businesses
  • A community art project
  • Kansas City jazz artist performances
  • Free admission to Johnson County Museum with tours of special exhibit, REDLINED: Cities, Suburbs and Segregation, which tracks Johnson County’s history of residential segregation and racist housing policies.
  • A walk and read all about Black history organized by Johnson County Library

3rd Annual Advocacy and Awareness Peace March and Rally

Overland Park Juneteenth 2021
Overland Park’s 2021 Juneteenth. File photo.

Advocacy and Awareness Group of Johnson County is hosting a peace march and rally at Thompson Park in Overland Park on Saturday, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

  • The group’s website states the event intends to “amplify the importance of learning the past so we can change the future.”
  • Last year’s event featured poetry readings, musical performances, interpretive dances and more.
  • Additional details will be made available on the website here.

Prairie Village’s Juneteenth Freedom Celebration

Prairie Village Juneteenth 2021
Juneteenth 2021 in Prairie Village. Photo via city of Prairie Village Facebook.

The city’s second annual Prairie Village Juneteenth Freedom Celebration takes place on Saturday, June 18, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Harmon Park, 7727 Delmar Street.

Hosted by the city’s diversity committee, STAND Up for Black Lives+ Prairie Village, Village Presbyterian Church and Johnson County NAACP, the following can be expected:

  • A 30-minute program starting at 5:30 p.m. featuring U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, Mayor Eric Mikkelson and local high school students
  • Live music, including Kansas City’s The James Ward Band playing at 6 p.m.
  • A fried fish fundraiser (which costs $10) hosted by by the Johnson County NAACP
  • A poster contest ceremony
  • Black-owned vendors
  • Coloring sheets, crafts and face painting

Juneteenth Observance at Johnson County Square

Juneteenth Johnson County Square
The county’s Juneteenth celebration will be held at Johnson County Square. File photo.

The county itself is hosting a Juneteenth celebration on Sunday, June 19, at 12 p.m. at Johnson County Square, 150 W. Santa Fe Street, the newly minted outdoor area immediately outside the county administration building in Olathe, on the site of the old county courthouse.

  • Attendees can expect “community speakers, historical readings and musical performers,” according to the event’s webpage.