Loading Events
Family Events
Festival | Juneteenth Celebration


The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art invites you to the third annual Juneteenth Celebration as part of city-wide observances, and in partnership with JuneteenthKC.

FREE tickets to 30 Americans June 8 & 9 courtesy of

Juneteenth commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth is an abbreviation of “June nineteenth” and honors the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865—a date two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Though Missouri announced emancipation on January 11, 1865, Missouri, Kansas, and 39 other states recognize Juneteenth as the official day of remembrance. The history of freedom and equal rights after emancipation is a long and complex one; indeed, that history is still being written. Juneteenth recognizes this, while celebrating the enduring and ongoing contributions of African Americans.

Programs & Performances

Kirkwood Hall, Plaza Level

Opening Program
10:30–11:30 a.m. Kirkwood Hall, Plaza Level, Nelson-Atkins Building
A presentation of colors by the Buffalo Soldiers, welcoming remarks by local dignitaries, and recognition of Makeda Peterson, JuneteenthKC program director. She honors the legacy of her father Horace M. Peterson III, founder of JuneteenthKC and the Black Archives of Mid-America, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and American Jazz Museum in Kansas City. Glenn North, nationally recognized poet, recognizes 2019, the 400th commemoration of the transatlantic slave trade. Elijah Thomas performs the National Anthem, Charlotte Fletcher sings Lift Every Voice and Sing, and the Kansas City Boys Choir and Kansas City Girls Choir perform selections. Enjoy performances by Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, Take the Stage, and Caruthers Creative Center Dance Studio.

Prelude Piano Music
10–10:30 a.m. Kirkwood Hall, Plaza Level, Nelson-Atkins Building
Pianist Elijah Thomas plays musical selections and an inaugural number for the opening program.

The Kansas City Boys Choir & The Kansas City Girls Choir
11:45–12:15 p.m. Kirkwood Hall, Plaza Level, Nelson-Atkins Building
Enjoy musical selections directed by Ah’Lee Robinson.

Live Music – Joe Straws Jr. & Caliph Stigler Jr.
Noon–1 p.m. & 1:15–2 p.m., Noguchi Court, Bloch Building

Story Telling by Buffalo Soldiers
12:30-1, 1:30–2 p.m., American Galleries Rotunda, Nelson-Atkins Building
Buffalo Soldiers tell stories of triumph and glory beginning with the American Revolutionary War.

Stinson McClendon Documentary Film, “BOUT IT” and Q&A
“BOUT IT” is a Kansas City-based documentary that seeks to answer this question: Do artists have the power to change the dire political and social needs of a people through their art forms —are they “BOUT IT”?
11:45 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Atkins Auditorium

The Amber Underwood Project
12:45–1:30 p.m., Bloch Lobby
Enjoy a musical performance led by jazz flautist Amber Underwood including drums, keyboard, guitar, and bass.

Spoken Word
1:45–2:15 p.m., Gallery L3, Bloch Building
Hear performances by poets Natasha Ria El-Scari, Aisha Sharif, and Glenn North.

Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey
1:45–2:15 p.m., Atkins Auditorium
Enjoy a dance performance inspired by the 30 Americans exhibition choreographed by Tyrone Aiken.

The Charlie Parker Memorial Foundation Jazz Ensemble
2:15–2:45 p.m., Kirkwood Hall, Plaza Level, Nelson-Atkins Building
Young musicians share their jazz repertoire under the direction of Greg Richter and Joe Straws Jr.

Finale Review
2:30–3:15 p.m., Bloch Lobby
DJ Joe Straws, Nikol Straws, and De Barker from the Big Step Off 2019 perform with dancers for a Kansas City 2Step showcase.

Dance to Live Music by Charlotte Fletcher & Soigné with Lee Langston
3:15–4 p.m., Bloch Lobby

Artist Demonstrations

Bloch Lobby

Gullah Basket Weavers
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Gullah basket weavers from South Carolina share their signature basket weaving styles.
11 a.m. & 1 p.m.
Guests may take a turn at weaving.

Anthony High
11 a.m.–2 p.m.

Clarissa Knighten
10 a.m.–noon

Nedra Bonds
10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Charles “Swavy” Jones
2-4 p.m.

Ongoing Activities

10 a.m.-4 p.m., except where noted

Drop-in Story Time
1–4 p.m., Spencer Art Reference Library, Level 2, Bloch Building
Drop in for story time and view a display of materials about African American artists and history.

Race Project KC
2–3:30 p.m., Noguchi Court, Bloch Building
Talk to high school students about the Race Project KC initiative and discuss how the themes in 30 Americans relate to Kansas City’s past and present.

Art Activities
Lens 2, Bloch Building
Create a paper North Star quilt collage inspired by the 30 Americans exhibition. Add your personal touch to a special Juneteenth coloring page created by local artist Michael Toombs.

Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City
Classroom 4, Nelson-Atkins Building
View display featuring Jerome Berry’s Super Soul Sista comic book.

Juneteenth Celebration North Star Quilt
Bloch Lobby
Snap a photo in front of the quilt!

Kansas City Center for Inclusion and Kansas City Anti-Violence Project Meet & Greet
Bloch Lobby

Discussions with Museum Guides
Gallery L5, Bloch Building
Learn about the cultural and historical significance of Memento #5 by Kerry James Marshall.
Project Space, Bloch Building
Discover Saya Woolfalk: Expedition to the ChimaCloud

KC Kids Unite Collaborative Collage
Ford Learning Center and Educator Resource Center
View the collaborative artwork of students from 12 elementary classrooms celebrating the diversity and beauty of our Kansas City community.

Traveling Trunk of Black Inventors & Innovators
Classroom 5, Nelson-Atkins Building
Explore African American innovations on display.
Live stream of Alvin Ailey performance in Atkins Auditorium.

AAA Collective Meet and Greet
10 a.m.-2 p.m., Plaza Level, Bloch Lobby

Food for Purchase

11 a.m.–4 p.m. | Rozzelle Court Restaurant and Outside Bloch Plaza
House-smoked BBQ and freshly made lemonade by Chef Marcus Locke of American Dining Creations and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Sample favorites from Urban Café outside the Bloch Plaza entrance.

Thank You

The Nelson-Atkins thanks its members – the art and soul of the museum – and volunteers, whose support makes festivals like this possible. To learn more, visit the Info Desk or artandsoulkc.org.

Special thanks to Bank of America for supporting free tickets to 30 Americans June 8 & 9.

The museum is grateful to JuneteenthKC Director Makeda Peterson, and textile artist Sonié Joi Thompson-Ruffin their partnership and collaboration. JuneteenthKC was brought to Kansas City in 1980 by Horace M. Peterson III, founder and first director of the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City.


JuneteenthKC “Fortifying Legacies” Festival
Saturday, June 15

JuneteenthKC information

10:00 AM - 4:00 PM