KEOKUK – The Keokuk Association for Rights and Equality (KARE) and the Keokuk Concert Association will host a Juneteenth Celebration in Keokuk on Saturday, June 19, 2021, in Rand Park at the pavilion and the surrounding area. Activities for families and children will begin at 1:00 pm and the celebration will conclude with The Fantasy Band: Motown and R&B at 7:30 pm.
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, began on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, with the arrival of Major General Gordon Granger. Although Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves effective January 1, 1863, it had little impact on the estimated 250,000 enslaved people in Texas. There were not enough Union troops available in Texas to enforce the proclamation. That changed on June 19th in 1865 with the arrival of Major Granger’s regiment, who overcame the resistance and enforced the proclamation, thus freeing the slaves in Texas. The slaves were overjoyed and celebrations broke out that day. Thus began an organized celebration every year on June 19th with the name Juneteenth as a combination of June and nineteen for the month and day the word was received in Texas . In 1980, Texas recognized the day as a state holiday. By 2019, 47 states and the District of Columbia recognized Juneteenth in some form. The day is currently being proposed as a national holiday. Juneteenth today celebrates African American freedom and achievement, and is seen as a day to celebrate family.
The Juneteenth celebration in Keokuk will begin with activities for families and children from 1:00 – 5:00 pm. There will be games with prizes for children, and a cornhole game for adults. Food vendors sell a variety of food throughout the day. The Lee County Health Department will hold a vaccination clinic with the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. A basketball free throw contest sponsored by Joystix Rockade begins at 3:00 pm for children and youth, with prizes awarded to the top three finishers in each age category. The Keokuk Fire Department is bringing both a water game and firetruck for an up-close look, and children will be able to speak with fire fighters. Children’s books will be available at no cost, KMS cheerleaders will be on hand for face painting, and there will be drawings for gift cards from local restaurants. Fred Seay will have an African American history display for visitors to view. Vendors will include Muddy River Music, Crystal Younger hair products, Gez Athletic Equipment, Callie’s Geodes, RKO Loco : The Crazy Archeologist, DeAirra Seay Stewart Paintings, and Abby Life. Local organizations Lee County Health Dept., Lee County Building Bridges Initiative, RVAP, Standing Bear Council, Sister Cities , KARE, and the Keokuk Concert Association will provide information and educational materials. Tom and Sandy Seabold, Howie and Amy Sutlive, and Trinity United Methodist Church are sponsors of the afternoon activities.
Musical entertainment will begin at 5:00 pm. at the pavilion and will include Living Word Ministry Choir, Voices off Worship, Chuck Mitchell, Nalani Proctor, and Crystal Younger. They will be followed by the featured performance at 7:30 pm, The Fantasy Band: Motown and R&B. The band is considered one of the “best dance bands in Chicago”. They are making their second appearance in Keokuk.
In the event of rain, the event will be held at First Christian Church, 3476 Main Street, Keokuk. The event is free to the public, but donations are appreciated to cover costs. If you have questions about the event, you may call Brenda Bradley (319-520-7829), Dev Kiedaisch (319-524-3935) or Anne Pietscher (319-795-9114).