JuneteenthICT is bringing a month of celebrations to Wichita.
Ti’Juana Hardwell, a volunteer for JuneteenthICT, said she is looking forward to the event’s annual parade, which was canceled last year.
“The parade is kind of like that big, huge announcement that, ‘Hey, JuneteenthICT is here,’” Hardwell said.
Juneteenth, short for June 19th, was the day Union troops freed about 250,000 slaves in Galveston, Texas. That happened more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
Now, 47 states, including Kansas, recognize the day as a holiday.
This year’s events included the first Miss JuneteenthICT Scholarship Pageant. It’s Friday at Wichita State University’s Rhatigan Student Center at 7 p.m.
Five high-school graduates will compete for scholarships by showcasing their talents and service to Wichita, Proceeds from the pageant and other events taking place throughout the month will go toward the scholarship fund.
The month of celebrations will also provide opportunities for giving back. There will be a blood drive June 18 and community service projects. There also is a free vaccination clinic June 19 at McAdams Recreation Center.
Hardwell said she appreciates this opportunity for Black Wichitans and their allies to unite after more than a year of racial reckoning. For her, it’s a chance to reclaim the narrative about the Black community and showcase the organizations that “make the city what it is.”
“I think it's really important for us to take back that narrative and share more about our culture, our music, our entertainment, the things that we love, and enjoy uplifting each other,” Hardwell said.
For a schedule of events, visit the Juneteenth ICT Facebook page.
Katelynn McIlwain is KMUW's Korva Coleman Diversity in Journalism intern. She will be a senior this fall at the University of Missouri.