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Central Iowa Juneteenth events, celebrations for 2022

Here are the ways you can mark this important holiday, and why it matters.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Juneteenth, the American holiday celebrating the date when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas first learned about the end of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, is just around the corner. 

Juneteenth celebrates the day that Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger announced that slavery was now illegal in the United States to Texans, on June 19, 1865. 

This was over two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Historians still argue about why it took so long for the news to reach Texas. They also point out that just because Texas slave owners and enslaved people were told slavery was illegal doesn't mean that enslaved people were actually free. 

It was common for slave owners to commit violence against formerly enslaved people for trying to exercise their freedom.

WATCH: The history of Juneteenth, America's "second Independence Day"

But despite the continued violence against Black Americans after the end of the Civil War, the Black community still rallied around and celebrated that date in June as the day they learned they were free. One hundred and fifty-seven years later, annual celebrations of Juneteenth are an established American tradition, and the day became a federal holiday last year

The holiday also has an Iowa-specific history.

In 1990, Gary Lawson founded The Iowa Juneteenth Observance, an organization devoted to marking and celebrating the holiday here in Iowa. Every year, they share or sponsor Juneteenth events held in Iowa for people to take part in. 

For a full list of the events IJO is spotlighting this year, go to their website. And in 2002, almost two decades before it became a federal holiday, the Iowa state government made Juneteenth a state holiday.

So, how is Iowa celebrating Juneteenth this year? Here is a list of just some of the events happening in the Des Moines and central Iowa area.

Black’d Out Book Drive

What: The Des Moines Art Center and Juneteenth Iowa are collecting books by Black authors for Cameron Gray’s Black’d Out Books project. Their goal is to reach 50 donated books by the end of June.

When: Donations are being accepted all throughout the month of June.

Where: You can drop off your books at the Education Desk in the Des Monies Art Center (4700 Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312)

Sunshine Storytime: Celebrating Juneteenth with Iowa Juneteenth

What: Dwana Bradley, the general chairperson of Iowa Juneteenth, partners with Des Moines Public Library staff to explore the history of Juneteenth and how its celebrated in Des Moines. This free event is geared toward kids and a great way for them to learn about the history of the holiday.

When: Wednesday, June 8 from 10-10:30 a.m.

Where: Des Moines Public Library at Forest Ave (1326 Forest Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314)

West Des Moines' Juneteenth Jubilee

What: The City of West Des Moines is hosting its first Juneteenth celebration this year. Festivities include performances by Billy Weathers & Hip-Hope Inc., prizes, free face painting and food truck vendors. 

Additionally, West Des Moines is also hosting a panel titled "State of Black Affairs – 157 Years Later." The panel is composed of various Black community leaders, including Joshua V. Barr and Renee Hardman, among others.

When: Saturday, June 11 from 5 p.m.-8 p.m.

Where: Jamie Hurd Amphitheater by the City Hall pond (4100 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines, IA 50265)

Emancipation Day: a Juneteenth Event

What: Living History Farms is hosting an event to showcase the history of emancipation and the Black experience in Iowa's history. Presenters include historians Valerie Grim and David Connon, Judge Odell McGhee and retired Iowa Supreme Court Justice Michael Streit. 

There will also be a live performance by the Langston Hughes Players and music by the Corinthian Baptist Church Praise Team. Additionally, the traveling exhibit "Toward a Universal Suffrage: African American Women in Iowa and the Vote for All," will also be on display. 

Tickets for this event are $17 for adults, $16 for military and seniors, $10 for children 2-12 and free for children 1 and under; they're available for purchase on their website or at the door.

When: Saturday, June 11, from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Where: Living History Farms (11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale, IA 50322)

Juneteenth Gospel Celebration

What: Iowa Juneteenth Observance is hosting a gospel celebration of Juneteenth and reflection on the progress and setbacks since the first Juneteenth. This year's special guest is Bishop J. Drew Sheard, the presiding Bishop and chief apostle at the Church of God in Christ, Inc.

When: Sunday, June 12 with doors opening at 4 p.m. and the celebration starting at 6 p.m.

Where: Franklin Junior High (4801 Franklin Ave., Des Moines, IA 50310)

Juneteenth Black Art Exhibit and sale

What: Mainframe Studios is hosting Urban City Magazine's annual Juneteenth Black Art Exhibit featuring portraits, sculptures and table art from local artists. Some vendors will also be present selling homemade woodwork and other crafts, with all proceeds from the event going straight to the artists. 

This event is free and open to the public.

When: Friday, June 17 from 5-10 p.m.

Where: Mainframe Studios, 900 Keosauqua Way, Des Moines, IA 50309.

Juneteenth Comedy Jam

What: The fifth annual local stand-up comedy showcase put on by Teehee's Comedy Club features up-and-coming Black comedians from Des Monies specifically and around the Midwest. 

General admission tickets are $15.

When: There are two shows on Friday, June 17. For the early show, doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the event starts at 7 p.m. For the later show, doors open at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 9:30 p.m.

Where: Teehee's Comedy Club (1433 Walnut St, Des Moines,  IA 50309)

The African American Museum of Iowa's Juneteenth Celebration

What: The African American Museum of Iowa is hosting an hours-long celebration featuring performances from local musicians, poets and leaders. This includes the Men’s Chorus of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Rebel City Dancers, DJ Cammando, Tevin, Tone, Riley Mobz and many more.

Additionally, the NewBo City Market will be hosting a Black-Owned Business Market at the same time. This event is free and open to the public.

When: Saturday, June 18 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Where: NewBo City Market (1100 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids 52401)

Ankeny's Juneteenth Festival

What: The City of Ankeny is hosting its second annual Juneteenth Festival. Featured performers include Capital City Steppers Des Monies IA, SWAN Ballet, Soul Steppas and more. Also included in the celebration are a kids corner with arts and crafts, a free throw contest, spoken word, food trucks and live music.

When: Saturday, June 18th from 3 p.m.-10 p.m.

Where: District Town Square (1500 SW Main St., Ankeny 50023)

Ames' Juneteenth Celebration

What: The City of Ames Parks and Recreation, along with various partners, is hosting a Juneteenth Celebration including family activities, art and crafts activities, games, live entertainment and food vendors. Festivities also include a line dance party and a showing of a Black superhero movie.

When: Saturday, June 18th from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Bandshell Park (Duff Ave & 6th St, 125 E 5th St, Ames, IA 50010)

Pride and Soul: A Juneteenth Skate Night

What: The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence is hosting a Juneteenth Skate Night to celebrate the intersection of Pride month and Juneteenth. Bring your own skates and check out queer and Black vendors, artists and resources.

This event is free and open to the public.

When: Saturday, June 18 from 6-8:30 p.m.

Where: Lauridsen Amphitheater in the Des Moines Waterworks Park (2251 George Flagg Pkwy, Des Moines, IA 5032)

DSM BLM's Juneteenth Celebration

What: The Des Moines Black Liberation Movement Collective is hosting a Juneteenth celebration including free food, games and crafts.

When: Sunday, June 19th from 4 p.m.-8 p.m.

Where: The Willkie House (900 17th St., Des Moines, 50314)

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