Gov. Laura Kelly recognizes Juneteenth as state holiday

Gov. Laura Kelly recognizes Juneteenth as state holiday

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – With an important proclamation, Governor Laura Kelly celebrated the Juneteenth holiday with the Kansas African American Affairs Commission.

“I’m just delighted that after years of trying to get this done, the African American Affairs Commission was able to get through celebrating Juneteenth as an official state holiday,” said Kelly.

Even though Kansans of color have observed Juneteenth for years, Kelly has officially recognized the holiday since 2020.

“We’ve been celebrating for a while, but to have the holiday as a statewide holiday, and the governor sign the proclamation, that’s big,” said Pastor Carl Frazier, Executive Director for Topeka Center for Peace and Justice.

While it’s important to commemorate days like Juneteenth now, some believe it’s just as necessary to look at the holiday’s history.

” I think it’s hugely important that our children learn from our past, all children learn from our past because it’s not just black history, it’s American history,” said Anthony Lewis, a commissioner for the Kansas African American Affairs Commission. ” And so I would encourage all educators to embrace, and teach all of the history so that we won’t definitely repeat it.”

It’s also a time to reflect on current inequities in Kansas and beyond.

“I believe that this is an opportunity for us to talk about that, honor our diversity, and celebrate our diversity,” said Lewis. “But also think about the barriers that are impacting access and the barriers that are impacting opportunities for all Kansans.”

The Juneteenth holiday is June 19th, this Wednesday. There will be a parade that day, starting at 11 a.m. in Downtown Topeka. Afterward, there will be a program at Evergy Plaza. Food trucks will be available.

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