Manhattan prepares for Juneteenth celebration

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After a difficult year for everyone, the Manhattan Juneteenth celebration seems even more important than ever.

Sonya Baker, Chair of the planning committee, says this year’s event will kick off on Thursday, June 17 with a presentation from Phil Dixon. Dixon is a co-founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City and is the author of nine books. The presentation from Dixon will be at the Frederick Douglass Recreation Complex beginning at 6:30PM.

Friday night festivities will include a night of jazz music and arts in the park. Baker tells KMAN that local saxophonist, JahVelle Rhone, will open the night beginning at 7:30PM at the City Park. Following Rhone will be a musical performance featuring Julian Vaughn who has had two number ones on the Billboards.

Baker says while there are three days filled with events, Juneteenth, which is June 19, is the biggest day. She says the day starts off with a 5K fun run at 8AM followed by Zumba in the Park at 8:45. Baker says shortly after those two events, the most favorite tradition of all, the unity walk, will begin at Longs Park at 9:30.

“This is where we ask all of the families and the communities to come together and just walk together in unison, showing support for one another,” Baker says.

Baker adds that after the walk the Riley County Police Department will provide free barbeque. She says the day doesn’t stop their, and in fact, it’s just getting started. Beginning at 11AM will be the Douglass Activity Center Mural Unveiling, a mural that was painted by Wichita native, EuGene Byrd. Following the unveiling and to round out the day, Baker says art work from local artists who created Juneteenth art will be auctioned off.

Baker adds that they are seeking more art pieces to auction off from local artists or anyone who just has a passion for this year’s theme- “United in History and In Hope”, a theme that Baker talks more about.

“If the past has taught us anything, it has taught us that together we are stronger than any one of us individually,” Baker says. “Our past unites us in a way that we never could have imagined or fully appreciated, but collectively our resolve to make the future better ensures that the negative actions and decisions of the past will not be repeated.”

To learn more about the Juneteenth celebration or how you could create art work for the auction, visit manhattanjuneteenth.org.

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