Makeda Peterson | Program Director

Immerse yourself in the vibrant spirit of Juneteenth KC, a celebration that marks the end of slavery and the beginning of a journey towards freedom and equality. At KC Cares Online, we explore this significant event through the eyes of Michaela Peterson, the program director for the celebration. From its humble beginnings to its transformation into a non-profit organization, Juneteenth KC has grown into a beacon of community service and African-American cultural preservation. Join us as we delve into the heart of this celebration and discover how it’s making a difference in Kansas City.

visit them here: juneteenth-kc.com


What Nonprofit Questions are Answered?

  1. What is the history and significance of Juneteenth KC?
  2. How does Juneteenth KC contribute to community development and cultural preservation?
  3. What are the year-round activities organized by Juneteenth KC?
  4. How can one get involved or volunteer for Juneteenth KC?
  5. How has Juneteenth KC adapted and grown over the years, especially during the pandemic?

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(00:00)  KC cares is the intersection of the non-profit and the profit communities making Kansas City a better place to live work and play this  KC care segment is brought to you by the Ewing Marion Cottman Foundation www.coffman.org I’m Ruth Baum Bigus. Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in this country following the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation first celebrated in Texas Juneteenth got its name from the combination of June and 19th the date that Major General Gordon Granger issued the order proclaiming

(00:34) slaves freedom in the Lone Star State nearly 165 years later Juneteenth is still celebrated in a big way here in Kansas City It Was 1980 when Horace and Peterson III the founder of the black Archives of Mid-America Inc brought the idea of a Juneteenth Heritage celebration to fruition so what is Juneteenth Kansas City how does this major effort all come together well here to fill us in on all the details is Michaela Peterson who’s the program director for Kansas City’s celebration Makida thank you for

(01:07) carving out some time for us you are so busy with everything getting it all ready yeah no problem just a pleasure to be here today for sure to have this moment all right for folks that are not familiar what’s about what’s been going on in Kansas City share with us a little bit about what the landscape has looked like for Juneteenth year uh just over the last couple of years or are you saying like uh over this does this leave this this uh coming year well I would say over the past couple of years and and for as long as you’ve been

(01:42) involved okay yeah the Juneteenth KC organization has been hosting the celebration uh within the 18 Divine historic Jazz district for 12 years which uh historically has been a community festival with free events for the entire Community a youth kids zone Health Symposium features over 200 vendors from across the greater Kansas City area Social Service Partners and just really is a an event that tries really highlight Community organizations and social opportunities that you know positively positively promote

(02:19) African-American pride and culture you’ve got that down girl that sounds amazing there’s so much there so can you talk a little bit about the non-profit and how the beginnings of that came about and and how you all work to organize uh well yeah we started the well we started as a for-profit and basically we linked up with mentors and a couple of community leaders in Kansas City we identified the need to bring the celebrations back to Kansas City so you know we started hosting the festivals as just local organizers

(02:58) and then about five years in we switched gears and moved to more of a community setting that had the non-profit structure where you saw us working more where things were free open to the public and just really partnering with with Community Partners and corporate organizations to again highlight the juneteen celebration but offer community services and socialization opportunities for the community at large and so that’s now where we’ve grown down to the 12th year and you know we focus on the activities in June which is

(03:29) the Heritage Festival the cultural parade and some various events throughout the month of June but then as an organization we host activities throughout the year like First Fridays we have mobile distributions Community baby hours and other events as well that just really again support Community advancement progression and then also just any that also provide cultural perfect preservation and preservation and restoration I guess that was just more preservation you all make the ship it really is a 4 a for-profit

(04:05) organization so how did you do the shift and why did you make the shift well we didn’t make any money profit organization to do it that way and so we just I started with a non-profit background and just understood that you know you could find more support as hosting it as a non-profit organization and then it just was able to be able to utilize more Community Resources and Community Partners to help to host the effort and and and to also now provide more community services and Community platforms for for

(04:38) you know for alternate alternate programming opportunities I think it’s so interesting that that it’s not a cultural event from the standpoint of it’s not just come see paintings uh art music Etc you’ve really woven so much more into it was that always part of the plan of having Juneteenth really have a presence here in Kansas City uh I mean it just happens organically I would say just you know it just we are given opportunities to partner or just delve into different areas whether it’s just you know areas we’ve always

(05:21) been curious about or as you know the you know as the culture shifts and there’s more programming that is now available or accessible to we we’re able to kind of open up the opportunities as well and so you know we’ve just been able to pursue more engagement opportunities or just you know I guess pursue more ideas and not being limited by just you know having a stereotypical festival and and historically we’ve always wanted to be more than just a party while and we really use the festival

(05:53) background as you know the social element to bring in the educational programming I mean it’s a lot easier to kind of slip in the education versus feeding it down to everybody gotcha so a little bit about how everything is structured to make this incredible month of activities is not just one day happen I know you’re slipping stuff and taking stuff so do you have any help how does it work yeah we have a board of committee members that meet uh weekly to just plan Logistics and out and we have a strong body of volunteers we

(06:31) actually are blessed to have a lot of corporate volunteers but most of it is volunteer based or you know our board members are committing the time to help with planning Logistics and planning how we can make the celebration grow bigger and better every year we rely heavily on Community Partners to as well to provide information and also I’m not providing information about surprise support and you know whether that’s you know them assisting with marketing or you know they might have staff that can

(06:58) assist with leading various roles you know as part of the effort then you know we definitely will make those Partnerships and find ways to to balance out are so we know this year’s Festival the cheers Festival is on Saturday the 17th of June for somebody who’s never been there before what kinds of things are we going to see experience take part in uh we have two Community stages so we’ll have National acts on our main stage which is pokey bear and Sir Charles we have the family health and cooling

(07:38) center that is sponsored by Heartland Coca-Cola and we’ll have non-profit agencies that Health Partners inside of that is sponsored by the Missouri Department of my number the minority Health and Senior Services Department we also have Commerce Bank Target and other corporate organizations that’ll be inside there that will provide uh Community giveaways Beverages and cooling cooling items to kind of keep keep the community cool we’ll have a kid Zone with an interactive play area it’s

(08:13) free Pace face painters character artists we also have uh youth uh book distributions hosted by the Kansas City Public Library and turn the page KC we will also have a genealogy center hosted by black archives and American Incorporated where families can record their oral histories and then also they can learn more about how to start the journey to the genealogy history we’ll have an art gallery over 200 vendors just a ton of things very it’s really helpful just to download our mobile app

(08:44) or go onto our website juneteenthkc.com because we have so many events throughout the district it goes it starts with Community workouts and and lots of distributions and giveaways throughout the day that everyone as a community can look forward to and and take advantage of it and it’s all free and it’s in the 18th and Vine area the historic district down there correct we take over the entire 18th Divine historic Jazz District so it’s about 10 city blocks that are fully taken over with with special activities and things

(09:13) for the families to do now you’ve been involved since uh 12 years ago or so correct how have you seen things change has definitely changed over the last five years just due to the city now Federal you know this well the nation not federally recognizing Juneteenth there’s definitely been an uptick over the last couple years with people wanting to learn more do more now there’s even to a a requirement in a sense for corporations to do no more because it is a holiday so now they have to recognize it like every other holiday

(09:45) and especially like Fourth of July so you just have now seen you know a lot more organizations trying to find different ways to be a part to support and so it’s just exciting definitely as organizers of juneteen celebrations Across the Nation we’ve just seen it become more than just a community celebrations down become Regional and even National and to have the support of the community and those corporate sponsors is it’s great especially just because we’re all joining forces and we’re

(10:12) aligning resources to make the biggest impact possible I’m going to ask the fly on the wall question Juneteenth that does celebrate the emancipation of slavery why should someone who’s not African-American come to a juneteen celebration and what are we going to learn well I mean I think you said in the answer itself I mean it’s about the emancipation of slavery it doesn’t necessarily have to be the emancipation of black slavery I mean slavery has touched every continent every in every ethnicity across the globe so it’s more

(10:44) as if you believe in that people should be free then you should celebrate Juneteenth just like we would celebrate the Fourth of July or have been celebrating the Fourth of July even when we weren’t free I mean we as a nation we’ve always celebrated the liberation of White America from Great Britain and we celebrate the liberation of other ethnicities as well from other you know from us slavery we just as a community agree and I think everyone holistically agrees that slavery is a bad thing then you know it should be no one should be

(11:16) in slavery so if you believe that in the truest form then you really should have no problem with Juneteenth and I’m sorry if I infer that you that anybody would have a problem I guess you know that more so that this you know do we feel what another there’s a sense like oh is it you know are we all are we welcome you know or do we you know do we I know we’ve had questions or people kind of other other ethnicities have kind of shied away from it just feel like I feel like this is supposed to be our day and it’s like well no if you

(11:45) believe in in Freedom you know you should be celebrating just as a general you know as again we sell them but just like I have no qualms with the Fourth of July I’ve just been celebrating this at Birth because you’re right we should be free you know everyone should be free and have access to Liberties and as an American and the we are African-American and so just celebrating our day of Liberation is just another another way for us to celebrate as a nation that we do not believe in that people should be you know in bondage

(12:14) I love that and I love how you’ve been able to take advantage as Juneteenth moved through now as a Federal holiday to go for those resources that’s something sometimes non-profits forget that there is stuff out there that you can go look for and and you all have been able to do that and incorporate that what’s your favorite part of the whole festival or are you just glad when it’s over and you can put your feet up and don’t have to run around I’m pretty much glad when it’s over the kids own

(12:42) the Kid Zone stuff is always great to us as the mission of our organization is really to impact you know Child Development and it always happens at a young age from you know birth to five so that’s why many of the events that we do we focus on free youth activities free things for families to do so you can engage and you know you know they can start to make that connection at a you know a positive connection to community at Young ages so you know any time that we’re able to really an action or see our kiddos enjoying

(13:15) and into their own community and not you know parents feeling it like their kids aren’t safe if they’re you know running up the street or their kid you know that they have to watch their kids every every second and uh the district really shifts and everyone really looks out for each other and kids are comfortable families are comfortable down there and that’s that’s the real goal is just to normalize that sense of community and that sense of coming together and making that something that our

(13:38) kids see because again our kids are exposed to a lot of traumatic things at this point especially as our our country kind of continues to seemingly spiral so you know whatever we can do to kind of show them what normal you know activities look like or things especially when we you know that’s what was my inspiration is you know things that when we grew up with a kid as a kids that were normal that was healthy like okay you can ride your bike down the street or you can have those Community picnics and you know those

(14:05) things and and and uh and have that sense of community it’s really important especially as we again as we as we go into these difficult more and more difficult times those those moments that we’re able to offer to to our kids that are invaluable wouldn’t it be great if we could all do that just send our kids out on a bike go play at the park something for everybody to strive to return to some sense of whatever normal is right I’m curious what did you all do during the pandemic because so much of

(14:39) it’s outside well yeah so the first year we we did virtual I mean it was very successful we had a virtual celebration we were probably the only people that we probably were the first ones to do it uh to try to go ahead and do virtual programming and engage it to the level we did and it was successful that’s probably where we really exploded online because people were really you know we’re stuck at home looking for ways to learn and engage and then after the first year we were you know it was we were able to go

(15:10) Outdoors so we were able to really kind of Thrive to be the first activities where people could go into open air activities and just really kind of you know still stress the education we did covid vaccinations and education on preventative care and and did a lot more resource distributions during that point in time a lot of our mobile distributions were heavier during the covered years where we were seeing numbers of you know three to five to 500 families and one event that we’re getting on-site services and meaning you

(15:39) know you know just needing support because it you know the families weren’t working and and things were shut down completely so we were able to kind of step in and be a support system and then in that capacity and then still provide you know we provide online learning for our kiddos and workshops and books that kiddos can do activities with online and just really try to find ways that families can continue to celebrate at home or even find ways that they could find a release from you know what was going on with being in lockdown and

(16:11) all of that what did you take from pandemic that is kind of now stuck with Juneteenth as it is today what we call a pandemic pivot lesson I mean you did I mean I guess the biggest lesson I mean we definitely try to stay ahead and we try to stay you know be being creative I mean with everyone Zoom I mean it’s always going to be a new asset and tool for everybody but I think we found ways to try to bring in our audience that wasn’t in Kansas City or ways that people could take the experience back home with them or you’ll

(16:51) still utilize our website our website is actually a really great resources for people to learn connect and even take those pieces and then get you know incorporate within their own you know celebrations or their own educational programming so we really it’s been a lot we’ve been we do invest a lot in our website and in our in our mobile even our mobile app that we have available now just to really try to get people to be able to engage as much as possible and however they wish whether it’s a workshop whether it’s being a

(17:23) speaker or or just tuning in and even this year with the parade we were able to partner with khp 41 to live stream it from home so everyone’s really able to watch it and see it and not have to you know be right you know smack dab and 18th and Vine so I think those things you know we’ve learned you know just just to stay flexible and not allow I guess a difficult situation to you know causes to shut down shop you know we can you know we can definitely become you know we can be agile and adapt and you know our ability to adapt

(17:58) and just really focus on you know what way we can impact and support the community the best way possible is the goals and what we’ve really stayed focused on and try to stay true to we’re talking with Michaela Peterson who is in charge of everything I think for Juneteenth she is Juneteenth what kind of things do you focus on when it’s not celebration time when we move July August and the rest of the year how how does the organization then stay relevant and involved in the community uh well we host the First Friday’s

(18:35) events in the Jazz District so that is our organization to hosting those kind of smaller scale Community social activities vendor events where they can able to connect with social service providers Community organizations we also host quarterly mobile distributions or Community baby shower events we partner with Children’s Mercy Hospital and cribs for kids to do safe sleep training as well so we provide pack and play assistance to families in need mothers in need with a child two years or younger can attend our training courses

(19:12) before the home to promote safe sleep activities uh we also do our uh we now do a two-year initiative which is our Housing Initiative our Housing Initiative is in partnership with Arvest Bank Reese Nichols and also now U.S Bank to offer home ownership workshops that promote or sorry that support a family’s transition into home ownership and just really offering introductory courses that talk about how to start the process to homeownership credit cleanup how to start your own bank account

(19:47) just different levels of financial literacy components but also tied directly to also home ownership components and and education so one hour is the homeownership education and the second hour is financial literacy we wrap that all up into also doing giveaways and hygiene hygiene product and resource distribution just to support the everyday kind of household support items to kind of guide a family’s process along the way and then we also offer uh we also offer family that completes at least three workshops a

(20:26) trip to the florist Furnishings program which is a great project program here in Kansas City that provides Furnishings for the whole family from top to bottom so we use that as a way to kind of you know keep families engaged throughout the process let them know that they have a support system but then also kind of too as they’re moving into their new home or they’re moving into their new apartment if it’s not you know that new home at that point we could also kind of you know save that cost in furniture and

(20:51) household Supply items by signing up a family to do that and just you know Finding ways that we can limit you know eliminate barriers or balance out you know any kind of stressors that the financial stretches that might be happening with the family and and you know kind of blending Resources with our Community Partners as well such a holistic approach to things you know that maybe folks would not associate with a a Heritage Culture Festival right doing these things year round and you really dip into the

(21:23) community I know when I was there last year last summer even though it was very hot it was a lot of fun and there was so much available by way of different non-profits how do you cultivate folks to come and be part of the heritage festival and then your other programs well we typically we do have a lot of Community Partners that we reach out to just just regularly that is even have either been on site at our events or have reached out you know just definitely just have reached out and said hey they want to get involved and

(21:51) learn more I mean we we definitely open our our table to any any Community partner that wants to serve and just you know it is open to serving and and uh well also too we have ours our General application so when we have community events you know you can definitely just come in as a sort of like a you know a general application and typically what we’ll do too is we’ll reach out to those Health service providers that we see and we recognize say Hey you know if you want to come back next month we we

(22:19) more often than not we’ll waive their fees and just say hey you know we don’t necessarily care about the vendor fee if you want to come if you can provide a service you know if you provide a service or you bring something to distribute you know on site with this we waive the fee or find whatever way possible to make you know that yeah I guess making you know enticing for that partner to come in but we definitely we definitely creatively partner with a lot of different partners from across the Spectrum

(22:46) we now obviously are doing Partnerships with like the Royals and the Urban Youth Academy uh we partner very closely with Kansas City Public School District in the city of Kansas City itself and also just several Community organizations like the library Turn the Page Boys and Girls Club canby’s urban community connections I mean that’s probably the one thing I think our organization really tries to you know try to do is you know we don’t want to be the only one in the room you know we really want to partner and collaborate

(23:15) as much as we can so that you know when our our attendees come they’re getting as much as they can within an exposure to to as many organizations they can so they can make connections they can Network and really continue that relationship you know we want you to continue to work with these organizations exchange numbers realize you know to how to stay on top of these organizations too that you’re not you know the squeaky oil the squeaky wheel is the one that gets oil you know you don’t follow up let them

(23:43) know you’re still interested in Services and teaching you know our our constituents too how to continue to build relationships with these organizations because a lot of these organizations you know if you if you connect with them correctly you know they’ll partner with you for life and continue to connect you with great people even if even if you know your pastor you know they’re quote unquote the parameters of the program most organizations especially if you’re engaged and they know that you’re a

(24:10) family or an individual that’s really trying you know to do the best that you can they’ll find another partner that will fill that Gap now to say hey well Taylor you’ve aged out but here’s another partner that now does that and you know they’ll be the intermediary they’ll help you with that so we want to be that agency to really promote that teach families how to continue to build their relationship and keep the relationships going too like just because again an organization doesn’t mean you can’t come

(24:37) back you know and I think that’s one thing it’s a continued resource you said you started your career in non-profits did you ever think you were going to be running the huge metro area huge celebration in programming uh no I I mean I didn’t think so I mean I guess I had goals I mean I I you know uh I had envisioned myself to hopefully be doing you know work with Juneteenth my my father was a Horace Peterson III so he’s the founder of the you know of course [Music] to Kansas City and so you know there’s always been

(25:17) that natural you know pull to to to to to continue his work and you know I just luckily had a wonderful Mentor by the name of Benny Shelby and other mentors that have kind of guided me along the way through you know City officials or other mentors that have been able to kind of to groom me because again we don’t all get here uh anyway so Jeff groom but also just you know to support and and to be a listening ear I mean and and I I think we all knew at the very beginning it wasn’t going to be a quick project

(25:51) you know I think one thing that a lot of people in Kansas City and a lot of organizations need to unders could benefit from understanding is that you know it takes a long it takes time it takes time effort effort and even effort after failure you know it doesn’t always go right the first day you just gotta keep at it and be willing to invest the time it took us 12 years to get here and we’re just now getting to that point and I think you know now you see a lot more people say oh I want to you know I

(26:24) want to do it I want to you know have this huge festival and it’s okay just cry before you walk do your research and understand that it just it really doesn’t happen overnight especially you know it took us a long time a lot of money lost like luckily now and again we’ve had mentors that were able to help put bills or help to find creative resources because we we lost a lot of money in the beginning and again now we’re at a point where we have a model that we’re able to duplicate and really have the support behind it

(26:55) now too as well so so so yeah that that that’s what that’s probably my Tuesday I thought there was a little tie there with Peterson Peterson so uh how cool yeah but how cool that is what a family Legacy you know and and carrying on and that’s that’s wonderful to have that and and to have that in our community with a big celebration because you don’t always have that so kudos to you all so anybody who’s interested in volunteering or or finding out more about what you’re doing again website is that our best bet yeah

(27:31) website is amazing it’s the juneteenthkc.com and it’s stay right now it’s gonna basically look festival-ish because with everything we got going on the June it’ll really be juneteen focused and then after the month of June it basically will base the it will switch over to more of our non-profits our social service side to feature those activities that are kind of our year-round activities our mobile app as well is going to be an amazing resource because it’ll connect you to Our Community Partners

(27:57) year-round and also activities that are going around across the city and it’ll just allow you to find things stay connected but those both of those will be great and then we’re always looking for volunteers so on our website if you just click the get involved tab you’re able to connect instantly to Mo to most of our projects throughout the year Michaela thank you so much for taking time of which you had very little so we’re so grateful and we we wish the best success for this year’s Juneteenth and of the

(28:26) ongoing program so thank you so much oh no problem I really really appreciate it I know I’m hard to nail down uh but I appreciate your flexibility and the opportunity because this is a great opportunity to share our mission our message and I look forward to seeing everybody and even you at Juneteenth and I just hope everyone the best success in their Endeavors as they run their own organizations or look to building their own thank you for joining us for  KC cares Kansas City’s non-pro profit voice

(28:55) produced by charitable Communications and this segment was brought to you by the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation www.Kauffman.org spread the love and find us on Facebook and Twitter at KC cares radio and Instagram  KC cares online and don’t forget you can catch us on Saturday mornings at 8 A.

(29:13) M on ESPN 15 10 a.m and 94.5 FM thank you for joining us on KC cares [Music]