Kansas City, June 5, 2018: A pair of Kansas City Public Schools leaders were special honorees during Kansas City’s 2018 Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 2 in the Jazz District.
Superintendent Mark Bedell was the Juneteenth parade Grand Marshall and Board of Directors Chair Melissa Robinson was named “Ms. Juneteenth” by event organizers. The Central Academy of Excellence cheer squad helped lead the parade and hand out KCPS t-shirts and other items.
Juneteenth marks the occasion on June 19, 1865 when Union Army Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order Number 3, which proclaimed the freedom of enslaved people in the state of Texas. In Dr. Bedell’s remarks to launch the event’s field day, he pointed out that the holiday is more about honoring the African Americans who fought for their own freedom in the face of ongoing resistance from a racist dominant society.
“It’s worth remembering that we do not mark this anniversary to remember freedom being handed to us by a liberating army,” Dr. Bedell said. “Enslaved labor continued for months and in some cases years, as did violent resistance by those who wanted to preserve the practice of slavery. We know that many freemen and women were murdered for daring to practice their new liberty.”
Dr. Bedell encouraged Juneteenth celebrants to build on the legacy of their ancestors by becoming engaged in their neighborhoods and communities.
“That means stepping up,” he said. “That means volunteering with your neighborhood association, voting on election days, going to school board meetings and city council meetings and county legislature meetings. It means letting your elected representatives and government officials know what you want and need from them in your community. It may mean running for office yourself. It means signing up to be a mentor in your local school. It means supporting our local businesses. It means teaching our children through our actions what it means to be an active and engaged citizen.”
Visit the KCPS Flickr site for more photos from this event.