City of Independence, Missouri

Independence celebrates Juneteenth for first time with programs, event

The City of Independence will mark the Juneteenth holiday for the first time since it was made an official federal holiday by President Biden with a variety of family-friendly events.

“We are honored to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday with our community for the first time and look forward to making this an annual celebration,” Mayor Rory Rowland said.

As part of the Juneteenth celebrations the City will mark the important historical role and impact of Hiram Young. During the height of the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon Trails, most of the wagons heading west were made by Hiram Young and his company. Formerly enslaved, Young helped free not only his family but many of those that worked for him. He was at the time one of the richest men in Jackson County Missouri. The Oregon California Trail Association put together this video telling the story of Mr. Young’s life and the impact he had on Independence and the westward migration, youtu.be/wglOkRw3Bfg

Here are a few ways to celebrate:

  • Friday, June 17: Join the Jackson County Historical Society and the Alexander/Madison Chapter of Greater KCMO Buffalo Soldiers as they present "From Slave to Soldier" at Ophelia’s Restaurant from 6-8 p.m. This event will include a presentation by certified oral storyteller George Pettigrew on the stories and roles of African American fighting men as American heroes. This free event is open to everyone to attend. Participants will have the opportunity to order dinner and drinks during the event. You can find registration information here, bit.ly/3QjQ7eR.

  • Sunday, June 19: Storyteller Brother John Anderson will tell the story of Juneteenth at George Owens Nature Park, 1601 S. Speck Rd., from 1:30-3 p.m. in a special Stories by the Campfire.
  • Monday, June 20: The City of Independence invites you to Hiram Young Park from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. to mark the City’s first Juneteenth Celebration. Bring your own picnic, lawn chair or blanket and enjoy live music provided by local musician Lori Tucker and a free ice cream truck. There will be a brief presentation beginning at 11:30 a.m. with welcoming remarks from Mayor Rory Rowland, the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and General Orders No. 3, performances from local choirs, and comments from Independence School Board Member Anthony Mondaine on the importance of getting involved in your community.

  • Thursday, June 23: The Independence Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department in partnership with the Community of Concerned Citizens will rededicate Hiram Young Park with a ceremony at 11 a.m.

We are excited to welcome everyone to Independence as we come together to honor and celebrate this important day through the history of our community. City offices will be closed on June 20 in observation of the Juneteenth holiday.