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What's coming up for Juneteenth in Columbia?

Bobby Norfolk performs in the Armory Sports Center. He is wearing a light green shirt and leaning into a microphone, standing in front of a blank whiteboard. A blue sign that says "We are Columbia" is behind him.
Katelynn McIlwain
Bobby Norfolk performed at the Armory Sports Center on Tuesday, June 4. He told the story of slavery in the United States. "In order to know where you're going, you need to know where you've been," Norfolk said.

Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States on June 19, 1865. In Columbia, the holiday will be celebrated throughout June.

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, but it could not be enforced in Confederate controlled areas, according to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The arrival of troops in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, meant freedom for about 250,000 enslaved people living in the state.

As celebrations of the day spread it became known as Juneteenth and, in 2021, it was established as a U.S. federal holiday. In Columbia, commemorations began on June 1 with a music celebration. Juneteenth will be observed nationally on Wednesday, June 19 and events continue in Columbia until June 20.

"I think it’s important that we continue, especially with — there are so many people that are trying to erase our history out of the school,” said Erika Buford, the executive administrator of Powerhouse Community Development. She said this is the first year Powerhouse is hosting a celebration independently. It's taking place in Columbia on Wednesday, June 19 in Cosmo Park from noon to 5 p.m.

Columbia Parks and Recreation have been hosting events all week and have set up a Juneteenth history display that people can visit throughout the month. It's open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Armory Sports Center.

Recreation Specialist Jay Bradley said this is his third year putting on the exhibit, which he developed when Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021.

“It was something that I was uneducated on, and I just think that it’s long overdue for people to kind of learn about it and educate themselves on it," Bradley said.

Here's a list of more Juneteenth events open to the public:


Screening of the short film “Our America: Black Freedom,” 6:30 p.m., Armory Sports and Recreation Center, 701 E. Ash St.


DJ in Douglass Park, 4 to 6 p.m., 400 N. Providence Road

June 14

Juneteenth Youth Pageant, 5 to 8 p.m., 811 E. Walnut St., $20 adult, $10 youth, free admission for age 10 and under

June 15

CoMo Juneteenth Parade, 9 a.m., on Broadway in downtown Columbia

Juneteenth Celebration, 11 a.m., The Historic St. Paul A.M.E Church of Columbia, 501 Park Ave., $12 plate of fried fish or chicken

MU celebrates Juneteenth, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Traditions Plaza, 800 Conley Ave., Carnahan Quadrangle, 681-723 Missouri Ave.

Juneteenth Community Celebration, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., downtown Columbia, 5th Street

Break the Chains, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Douglass Park, 400 N. Providence Road

Freedom Day, 5 to 8 p.m., Shelter Gardens, 1817 W. Broadway

June 16

Columbia Cemetery United States Colored Troops Memorial, 2 p.m., Columbia Cemetery, 30 E. Broadway

June 19

CoMo Juneteenth Community Luncheon, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Douglass Park, 400 N. Providence Road

Powerhouse Annual Juneteenth Event from noon to 5 p.m. at Cosmo Park, 1615 Business Loop 70 W.

Columbia’s 5th Annual Juneteenth Event by The Village from noon to 7 p.m., Cosmo Park, 1615 Business Loop 70 W.

Minority Vendor Show Expo, 2 to 8 p.m., Urban Empowerment, 2404 Industrial Drive

“Let Freedom Ring” Gospel Celebration, 6 p.m., Urban Empowerment, 2404 Industrial Drive

June 20

Juneteenth Jamboree Family Fun Fest, 6 to 8 p.m., Cosmo Park, 1615 Business Loop 70 W.

If any events were left out, please contact news@columbiamissourian.com.

Katelynn McIlwain, originally from Freeport, Illinois (go Pretzels!), is the managing editor for KBIA. She assists KBIA newsroom leaders in planning, supervising and producing news programming for radio broadcast, including daily news and in-depth reports, as well as public affairs programming.
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