About Us and Juneteenth

The Juneteenth Heritage Festival was first presented to the Jefferson City community in the year 2000 under the umbrella of the NAACP, Jefferson City Branch.   

In 2006 a group came together to continue the Juneteenth Heritage Festivals in Jefferson City under the name Citizens for Juneteenth.   On May 28, 2009, Juneteenth-Jefferson City became registered with the Missouri Secretary of State as a non-profit entity and held the 9th Juneteenth Heritage Festival.   In 2011 Juneteenth-Jefferson City sought and obtained 501 (c )(3) non profit tax exempt status under the Federal IRS Code.  Juneteenth-Jefferson City operates under a fourteen member Board of Directors.

Juneteenth-Jefferson City was founded for the primary purpose of coordinating and presenting, to the Jefferson City and Mid-Missouri area communities, an annual Heritage Festival to celebrate the freeing of the last slaves.  Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United StatesDating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union Troops to enforce the new Executive order.  However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Since its inception the Heritage Festival has provided a festive family environment where persons of all ethnicities and ages have come together for an educational and cultural experience.   Portions of the proceeds from the Juneteenth Heritage Festival have gone towards the Juneteenth Scholarship which is awarded to a deserving student and have supported the former Jefferson City Community Center (now the Eastside Family Activity Center), and the Boys and Girls Club of the Capital City.

The Jefferson City Business community, Lincoln University, Jefferson City Public High School, civic organizations and the general public have played an integral and supportive role in making this yearly celebration a success.

The Heritage Festival, which is scheduled during the third week-end of June, has provided a wide variety of cultural, educational, and entertainment activities that keeps in the tradition of Juneteenth.  Exhibitors have provided resource information on a variety of topics, such as health issues, social issues, and job opportunities.  Vendors have presented art, books, clothes, jewelry, and other wares for sale.  Food Vendors have available a wide variety of food for sale, especially the “Juneteenth” foods such as B-B-Q, Fish, Red Soda. Storytelling, an integral part of the festival, has showcased storytellers from the local Jefferson City Community, Columbia, Detroit Michigan, and Houston Texas.   The music component of the festival includes local and out-of-town church choirs, local and visiting musicians and vocal artists from Columbia, Kansas City, and St. Louis.   The artistic and educational aspect of the Festival has been fulfilled by the presentation of artist dance and dramatic plays depicting the story and essence of Juneteenth.  Artistic historical displays have been very informative and enlightening to festival goers.   Social, Political, and community issue-driven forums have provided residents of the community direct access to elected city, county, state officials, and community leaders.

The Juneteenth Fathers Day Banquet is our opportunity to take pause and give honor and celebrate the Men of the Jefferson City and Mid Missouri Community.  During the banquet the Man of The Year Award and the Father of The Year Award is presented to the selected Man and selected Father of the year.
The Emancipation Program focuses on the history and celebration of men and women who have served in the military, particularly those of African American heritage to include the Buffalo Soldiers and Tuskegee Airmen.