Community invited to celebrate Juneteenth in downtown Lawrence; Macy Gray to perform

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Celebration of Black liberation will be in full bloom next weekend as community members gather to honor Juneteenth in downtown Lawrence.

Juneteenth is a national holiday that commemorates Black independence in the United States. When the last enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, learned of their freedom on June 19, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation could finally ring true.

Lawrence organizers have planned a grand celebration for the city, including a gospel music celebration, a parade, a local Underground Railroad site tour and more, according to the Lawrence, Kansas Juneteenth website. Several vendors will be set up in South Park, selling food and art. 

In addition to vendors, activities during the daylong community celebration will include a proclamation, community honorees, oral histories, games, live music and entertainment, a “kids corner” with free activities and food for children, and more, according to the website.

Grammy Award-winning R&B singer Macy Gray as well as Krizz Kaliko, Vicman Maal, B.L.A.C.K. Lawrence members, DJ Bizzy Biz and more artists will perform live.

“The Lawrence Juneteenth Organization believes in a world where all people are treated equal,” the website states. “Black Lives Matter. As Black Americans, we have a rich history in Lawrence and we would like to share that with everyone … It will be a joyful, uplifting time as we journey through the history of our lives and the impact we have made in America and our very own Douglas County. All are invited to attend.”

Macy Gray performs in 2015. (Bruce Baker / Wikimedia Commons)

The Underground Railroad Tour, a new bus tour developed by the Watkins Museum of History, will take participants to three historic sites in Lawrence. They can choose to get off the bus and explore the sites, learning about “stories of heroism and tragedy from Lawrence’s early days as an important place in the Underground Railroad and the fight for a free Kansas,” according to the Facebook event page for the tour. Registration for the tour is now full, but those interested can still place their names on a waitlist in hopes of spots opening up later.

The Juneteenth celebration is scheduled for Friday, June 16 through Saturday, June 17, with the latter day including most of the festivities. Everything is family-friendly, but pets are not allowed, according to the website.

Community members are invited to participate in a Gospel Extravaganza at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Victory Bible Church, 1942 Massachusetts St., ahead of Saturday’s activities.

The Juneteenth parade down Massachusetts Street will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at Eighth Street, which will kick off the community celebration from noon to 8 p.m. at South Park.

Individuals or organizations interested in contributing to the event can download the form on the website, complete it and mail it to P.O. Box 4584, Lawrence, KS 66046. Those interested in joining as a sponsor can read more details at the Sponsorship Page on the website.

Visit or the event’s Facebook page for more information and to stay up to date with planning.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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