Hundreds brave heat at annual Juneteenth celebration in KC

Family fun, live entertainment and a bit of history was the name of the game at the annual Juneteenth celebration Saturday in the 18th and Vine District.

Despite a heat index well above 100 degrees, organizer Makeda Peterson said the celebration was well-attended.

Juneteenth featured more than 60 retail vendors, 15 non-profit vendors, several musical acts and hundreds of guests.

“We had a great day,” Peterson said. “We had a full day full of fun, and a great time with great music.”

Juneteenth is an annual celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It stems from the arrival of Union troops at Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, with news that the Civil War was over and the slaves had been freed — more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

The history lesson was new for seven-year-old Joslyn Jones of Kansas City, but one she said she is unlikely to forget.

“Juneteenth is the day we celebrate (African-Americans) getting out of slavery,” Joslyn said.

Gunard Polite of Kansas City attended the event with his wife and two small children. Polite said the family enjoyed the various musical acts.

“A lot of great R&B songs that I used to listen to as a kid, so it was great to come here and listen to that,” Polite said.

Toriano Porter: 816-234-4779, @torianoporter