A week of events kicks off Monday, leading up to the Manhattan Juneteenth Celebration running all day this Saturday. The official website can be found here.
This marks the 32nd official observance of the holiday in the Little Apple, with just one year off due to COVID since the celebrations began in the area in 1989. In its stead in 2020, a vigil was held for people killed by police nationwide.
Celebration of the holiday of Juneteenth stems from the end of the Civil War, though, commemorating the date when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced the emancipation of enslaved people in the state on June 19, 1865. Declared a federal holiday in 2021, this year’s federal observance of Juneteenth falls on Monday, June 20, to avoid landing on a Sunday.
Things in Manhattan start Monday evening with a screening of the Academy Award-winning film BlackKklansman in the K-State Student Union’s Forum Hall at 6:30 p.m. To follow that up, co-writer and Junction City native Kevin Willmott will speak Wednesday at the Bill Snyder Family Stadium’s Shamrock Zone from 7 to 9 p.m. Willmott will also have his Oscar in tow, and those who come to the lecture will have an opportunity to meet the man and get a photo with him, the Oscar or both. Willmott’s remarks will touch on the theme for 2022’s local observance as well – that being Freedom, Strength and Resilience.
Thursday features a pair of events at the Douglass Activity Center beginning at 6 p.m. Things start off with a meet and greet with Kansas State University Coaches, put together by the Mu Eta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in partnership with the local Juneteenth Committee. Coaches from multiple sports are planned to be in attendance, and the gathering will also pay respects to the late Veryl Switzer that evening as well. Switzer is the first Black athlete to graduate from K-State and went on to play for the Green Bay Packers. He died June 4 aged 89.
Then at 7 p.m. at the Center is the Juneteenth Art Auction, running until 9 p.m. The auction will offer an opportunity to purchase numerous pieces of art made for this year’s Juneteenth and in line with the 2022 theme as well. The art work has already been on display in the windows of Downtown Manhattan businesses since June 3. Half of the proceeds will go to support future Juneteenth celebrations with the other half going to the artist.
Friday will see the return of the annual Juneteenth Grilling Contest at 6 p.m. Registration deadline is Monday, June 13 at noon at a cost of $25 per entry category. Competition categories include chicken, ribs and pork loin, beef brisket and hot links. Tasting kits will be available for $5, and the audience will also serve as the event’s judges. The crowd will select the top three as prize winners, each receiving a plaque with the first place winner also receiving $50.
The ongoing Arts in the Park series, in conjunction with the City of Manhattan and Parks and Recreation, will close out Friday with an 8 p.m. show featuring the Private Property band from St. Louis, MO. Notable artists include Anita Jackson, Taynka Mimi and Wil Robinson performing hits from the 70s until today.
The culmination of the week’s events, Saturday has activities going from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. around Manhattan City Park. The day starts with the Juneteenth Fitness Experience – featuring the 5K Unity Run at 7 a.m.Yoga at 8 and a Unity Walk at 11. Vendors and community organizations will begin setting up at 10 a.m. and Mayor Linda Morse is scheduled to read the city proclamation for the Juneteenth holiday at 11. Amid the celebrations, Manhattan will also take time during this year’s Juneteenth observance to memorialize a few notable community members. Former educator Linnetta Hill, Rev. Jim Spencer and longtime Juneteenth Committee Member Herb Eley as well as Switzer.
Various other happenings are planned throughout the day, from car art displays to bike rodeos. The annual Kids Money Drop raining Juneteenth Dollars is at 2 p.m. The car wash contest is at 3 and dance contests run from 4 to 6. Food and music will be available throughout the day, with things capping off with the music festival in the evening. This year’s performances start at 7:30 p.m. and are headlined by Mo’Town Unlimited. People are encouraged to dress in their Mo’Town best and be ready to party until 9 p.m. when the show concludes.
The community is then encouraged to take time on Juneteenth to reflect on accomplishments and progress that have been achieved to date, as well as work that remains to be done. You can hear a full preview with the Juneteenth Committee on In Focus here.
Another link to the Juneteenth website is here.