Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved persons in the United States. To mark the occasion, there will be several celebrations around the state featuring parades, live music, cultural performances, educational workshops, food, and more.

Delmar Loop’s Juneteenth celebration will feature performances from Spirit of Angela West African Dance and Drum and the Red & Black Brass Band. Some may find it hard not to get up and dance.

 

By Natalie-Elizabeth Tan

Over the next fortnight, Missouri will be buzzing with an array of Juneteenth festivities, honoring this day with events statewide.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. It marks the day on June 19, 1865, when all enslaved persons in Texas were freed by executive decree.

Juneteenth is a significant cultural event that started as a commemoration of freedom but has evolved into a celebration of Black culture and heritage. This day has been observed for decades, but became an official federal holiday in 2021.

One of the largest celebrations in the state is at the Delmar Loop in St. Louis on June 15, the Saturday before. The area has a sizable Black population with rich Black culture and history, so Juneteenth is crucial to St. Louis’s diversity and growth.

“The significance of having the Juneteenth celebration on Delmar Loop is bridging the gap of the Delmar Divide … and moving as one community,” says Celeste Grayer, event coordinator. The Delmar Divide refers to Delmar Boulevard as a literal dividing line between the wealthy, white areas on one side and the impoverished, mostly minority areas on the other. “Delmar Boulevard, a longstanding symbol of division, is transcending its historical barriers as both sides of the Delmar Loop—University City and St. Louis City—unite their efforts to create an extraordinary Juneteenth festival experience,” Grayer says.

a woman with braids paints the face of a young boy
The Delmar Loop’s Juneteenth celebration, one of the largest in the state, features tons of family-friendly activities.

The Loop will be chock full of activities on the 15th. You can start off the morning with the Race for Reconciliation, a 5K run/walk. (There’s also a 1-mile course if you’re not up for that kind of mileage.) Afterwards, head to the afternoon vendor fair, which highlights Black-owned businesses with lots of retail options as well as local food and drink options. The day ends with a car show and live entertainment from African artists. Kunama Mtendaji World African Arts, Spirit of Angela West African Dance and Drum, and the Red & Black Brass Band are all on the lineup.

Other Juneteenth Celebrations Around the State

  • In Cape Girardeau on June 15, head to Ivers Square for live entertainment, food and craft vendors, and tons of fun.
  • Fayette has a slew of events spanning June 19–23, including a Gospel Fest, a parade, car show, a “Sip and Paint” event, live music, and a fireworks show.
  • Come June 15–20, celebrate in Columbia with a parade, community lunch, music, dance, arts and more. Or head south to Jefferson City on June 15 and revel in the atmosphere with a parade, cook-off, food, games, and more.
  • For Springfield’s extravaganza June 15–16, they are bringing you a film screening, gospel choir and the Turnt Up Tour, with Ying Yang twins, Twista and Paul Wall, and more.
  • Joplin will be hosting its celebration on June 16, with a bounce house, tie-dye class, 5K run, scavenger hunt, and soul food.
  • In Kansas City, Juneteenth has been commemorated since 1980. This year’s JuneteenthKCFestival on June 15–16 at the 18th & Vine District offers many activities, including educational workshops, vendors, live music, cultural performances, and a parade.
  • Weston will be putting on performances from African drummers and dancers in its charming Red Barn Farm. A little further north, watch fireworks light up the sky at various venues in St. Joseph on June 15. There will also be other activities such as a parade, concerts, vendors, and a fashion show.

All photos by Keyairis Henry.