KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Juneteenth on the Vine drew hundreds of people to the 18th and Vine District on Saturday.
“This is our Black Wall Street of Kansas City,” Tiara Dixon, Owner of Smaxx Restaurant and Velvet Freeze Daiquiris, said, "and it feels good for us to hold it up and represent us the right way."
The weekend event celebrated the official end of slaveryin the United States. Organizers told 41 Action News it also was a way to build up the community.
“It is an impromptu Juneteenth, being that this is COVID season and we’re having a hard time," Dixon said, "but we wanted to do something for our community and for our people to come together collectively and have a day of financial gain."
Hundreds of people stopped to shop, eat and show their support.
“Being down here for the Juneteenth celebration, you know, celebrating Black excellence is good to be to be apart of something positive in our community," Terrell Ray said. "It’s tragic that COVID has shut down the actual big celebration, but even just the smaller one is beneficial to our community."
Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas attended, and in an interview with 41 Action News, spoke about the importance of lifting people up in challenging times.
“The best way we start to turn it around is building up the African American community," he said. "It’s building up our local businesses. It’s building up our local people, and so that’s why I’m excited to be here this afternoon. I was here earlier today, I’ll be back later tonight, because I see this as a cultural crossroads for our community."
Elected officials locally and nationally have been working to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
“We’ll take what we can get at this point in time because Black lives and all of that matters, but it’s just a time for change, period," Dixon said. "It’s just a time for change, and this is the beginning of it."
Many in the community told 41 Action News Juneteenth has always been celebrated and will continue to be, federal holiday or not.
“Don’t just talk to me about a holiday or a half day off for some workers," Lucas said. "talk to me about real investment in communities. Talk to me about real substantial change in the Black community. That’s what I want to hear from my senators, from the governor, from so many others, so that’s my priority."