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May 26

Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center event to kick off several 2022 observations of new holiday

Posted on May 26, 2022 at 3:08 PM by Becky Burnside

The public is invited to take part in a first-ever Juneteenth celebration at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center on Saturday, June 11.

“The JCAHC is a cultural hub in Johnson County that brings this wonderful synergy of fine arts, performing arts and history together to offer a family-friendly event that both commemorates and celebrates this holiday,” said JCPRD Superintendent of Culture Susan Mong. “We will have something for every age to engage, discover, and learn about this holiday through the medium of arts and culture. For many of us, we are still learning what this holiday means in our country, and it is our hope that members of our community utilize this event as a way to grow in their understanding of Juneteenth and hopefully motivate them to attend other events here in Johnson County and at 18th and Vine where more events are happening on June 18.”  

This new family-friendly event, built with community partners, provides an opportunity to honor the history and celebrate Juneteenth with art, music, food, and more. This event also includes free admission to the Johnson County Museum and its special exhibit, REDLINED: Cities, Suburbs, and Segregation. The JCAHC event will be emceed by film critic, writer, and President of the Johnson County Museum Foundation Lonita Cook.  Founder and President of Giving Hope & Help Jessica McCallop-McClennan will be a special guest for the event, where she will share her family’s history in Johnson County that dates back to the period immediately following the Civil War, and provide her reflections on Juneteenth. There will be performances by premier Kansas City jazz vocalist Eboni Fondren and band, Jazz Storytelling, and other local artists. Other event features will include food samples from local Black-owned businesses, a community art project, and a special Walk and Read from the Johnson County Library featuring the books “Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free” by Alice Faye Duncan and “Change Sings” by Amanda Gorman.

“The Walk and Read event is a collaboration with the Johnson County Library that creates an interactive story telling experience for families to engage their children in the story and traditions of Juneteenth,” Mong said. “This will be set up in the front grassy area of our facility to create this ‘walk and read’ experience, and we are thankful to have our library colleagues join us to create this dynamic learning opportunity.” 

Scheduling of the JCAHC event 10 days before the actual holiday on June 19 was very much on purpose, Mong noted. 

“There is an established history here in JoCo already on the actual day and we did not want to detract from that,” she said. “The Advocacy and Awareness Group of Johnson County is hosting its third annual event, for example, on the actual day. The NAACP of Johnson County also hosts an event in Prairie Village on the actual day as well. By hosting our event on June 11, it also serves as a kick off of sorts for other events around Johnson County and also shows respect for our community partners by not competing with these established events already anchored in Johnson County.”

For more information on other Johnson County Juneteenth events, click here

“The second reason this works so well is the Museum Free Days are set quarterly each year and approved by the JCPRD board,” Mong said. “By hosting our event to coincide with a Museum Free Day on June 11, this allows our community to take in the REDLINED: Cities, Suburbs and Segregation exhibit, making this holiday an opportunity of education and learning for our community.” 

As Mong mentioned, June 11 is the museum’s quarterly Free Day, so it is a great chance to check out the REDLINED exhibit, which shows how Johnson County and the region were both shaped by and are still influenced by the legacy of the federal policy of redlining. There will be brief tours at 10:30, 11:30, and 12:30 for folks who are interested. As always, the Free Day includes the signature Becoming Johnson County exhibit, KidScape, and two new temporary exhibits which will be on display in JCAHC’s Creative Commons area beginning on June 11.