History of Juneteenth


Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Traditionally Juneteenth is known as a cultural event that celebrates the emancipation of slaves in America in 1865.

Brought to Kansas City in 1980 by Horace M Peterson III, founder of the Black Archives of Mid-America INC, Juneteenth is an annual heritage celebration and platform that celebrates the emancipation of enslaved Africans in America and provides the backdrop to pay tribute to the founders of our community.



JuneteenthKC is Kansas City, Missouri's premiere community heritage celebration and is hosted annually within the 18th & Vine Historic District.

Every June, hundreds of thousands of people across the United States crowd the streets of their cities to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday, as they once did in Kansas City over 20 years ago. The streets of downtown Kansas City were once filled with fascinating sights, and reverberated with the sounds of vibrant KC talent and smells of authentic home-style barbeque.


Legacy Development in partnership with District Stakeholders and African American Cultural/Educational agencies work together to host a cultural event that allows people from all backgrounds to celebrate the progression of the African American community and enjoy the spirit of remembrance, unity, and personal independence.

JuneteenthKC in its current form features a vast variety of musical performances, live entertainment, a variety of retail, food, non-profit/public service, and youth-oriented vendors.  In addition, the MetroPCS Main Stage features Kansas City's best live entertainment.


Juneteenth History Resources

Smithsonian National Museum of ​African American History & Culture

Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day. Though it has long been celebrated among the African American community, it is a history that has been marginalized and still remains largely unknown to the wider public. The legacy of Juneteenth shows the value of deep hope and urgent organizing in uncertain times. The National Museum of ​African American History & Culture is a community space where that spirit can continue to live on – where histories like this one can surface, and new stories with equal urgency can be told.

Watch the video as the Museum's Founding Director Lonnie Bunch III leads a tour through our Slavery and Freedom exhibition to celebrate #Juneteenth, highlighting stories behind some of our most popular objects, including Nat Turner's bible, freedom papers of free African Americans and a Sibley tent that housed African Americans who ran from Southern plantations in search of freedom with the Union army.

Learn more about the historical legacy of Juneteenth on our Tumblr and explore more objects related to emancipation in our collection.


Black Archives of mid-america 

The mission of the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City, Inc. is to collect, preserve and make available to the public materials documenting the social, economic, political and cultural histories of persons of African American descent in the central United States, with particular emphasis in the Kansas City, Missouri region. Black Archives of Mid-America is an educational resource and provides access to its collections for research, exhibition and publication to honor our community heritage and to catalyze public awareness.

Explore Our Digital Gallery

Did you know that there are hundreds of historic images available online from the Black Archives collection? There are photos of famous persons, church groups, civil rights activists, athletes and more.

Notable collections include numerous photographs of the Alvin Ailey dance troupe, Buffalo Soldiers and the Tuskegee Airmen.


Explore now »


Kansas City: African American History Tour

The Creation of Kansas City


18th & Vine History

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Welcome to the African American Heritage Trail of Kansas City, MO. The Trail is “virtual,” as the number and land area of sites along the Trail are too large to walk. However, maps will guide you to neighborhoods and clusters of sites where you can create your own Trail experience.

The African American Heritage Trail of Kansas City, Mo has been driven by community input and will continue to grow in size and scope. Please check back often as we will be adding more sites and people regularly, as the African American History of Kansas City is rich, deep, and significant to growth of the community.  Learn More


There are plenty of ways to participate with this year's JuneteenthKC Celebration. Get involved for both a rewarding experience and to continue building on a legacy of community.