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Kansas City celebrates Juneteenth with gatherings, proclamations

June 19 marks official end of slavery in US
Juneteenth T-shirt.png
Posted at 9:23 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-20 01:15:35-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dozens of Kansas City residents gathered downtown Friday night at KC Daiquiri Shop to commemorate Juneteenth, one of the oldest celebrations marking the end of slavery in the United States.

“It is very much overlooked, and we need to get it out there,” Cartez Garlington, who helped co-organize the gathering, said.

On June 19, 1865, Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, where told enslaved African Americans that the Civil Ward had ended and they were free.

The announcement came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

“The emancipation proclamation actually didn’t free any enslaved people," Diane Mutti-Burke, professor and chair of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said. "Lincoln basically said to the southern states that he was turning the army into an army of liberation and, anywhere that the Union Army went from that point forward, they would liberate people."

Mutti-Burke said the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of Vicksburg and the surrender of of Gen. Robert E. Lee paved the way for Granger to arrive in Texas.

“It was just Union victory after Union victory," she said. "The Union Army just started rolling over the South and liberating people everywhere they went. They had not gone to Texas."

Cheoni Givens said the celebration this year have been met with reinvigorated passion and purpose after hundreds of thousands of people across the country have taken to the streets — demanding social reform, police reform, criminal justice reform after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others.

“Now, we can give it a broader platform to talk about it, because most people, even us, didn’t know what it was either," Givens said. "Now that we know, we’re armed with knowledge."

Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. signed an executive order declaring Juneteenth a county holiday for the first time this year. All county offices closed at noon.

The Kansas City Chiefs also announced that the team’s offices at Arrowhead Stadium would be closed in recognition of Juneteenth as an official holiday.