The Lawrence community gathered at Watson Park on Saturday to celebrate Juneteenth, the recently declared federal holiday, with a community barbecue.
Families, city political candidates and city organizations were some of the attendees at the barbecue.
“This is Black history, but this is American history,” said Lawrence City Commission candidate Amber Sellers. “To be able to come out and be able to celebrate Black culture and its imprint on all the communities that we are a part of as Americans and as citizens, that’s important to me.”
The barbecue had free food and drinks, a rib cook-off, a cupcake war, an art contest, basketball tournaments, a spades tournament and inflatable jump houses.
“I think for me [Juneteenth] is a pretty significant one, you know, being on the cusp of a national holiday, but most importantly it’s about celebrating the community,” Sellers said.
Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of slaves from Galveston, Texas: the last slaves to be freed after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, according to NPR.
“[Juneteenth], it’s a reminder that Blackness can always find a way to come together, can always find a way to find joy and even when we’ve been held back for so many different reasons, we can find ways to push ourselves forward and continue growing and existing,” said community member Tatyana Younger.
The event was sponsored by organizations such as the United Way, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, The Raven Bookstore and more. The event was coordinated and run by Trinity Carpenter.
“The United Way is sponsoring this event,” the Lawrence branch of the United Way said. “We gave some grant funding to Trinity through our racial equity community fund, so obviously, we wanted to see it succeed.”