Members from the Lawrence Juneteenth Committee made a timely presentation to talk about this year’s community celebration. Markus Logan is a long time Lawrence resident and graduate of Leadership Lawrence and owner of Lasting Memories Entertainment. Lois Orth-Lopes is a Kansas University Graduate and retired elementary music teacher and member of numerous service organizations. Juneteenth has become a federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of slaves. Juneteenth originated in Galveston, Texas when area slaves were emancipated by federal troops.
A variety of local events are planned for June 16-19, with the big celebration on Saturday. The day starts off with a parade downtown at 11:00 am followed by a big celebration in South Park. There will be speakers, music, historical tours, vendors, social services and health representatives and a kid’s corner. Sunday will feature a tour of Maple Grove Cemetery. The celebration is intended to bring the community together and all are welcome. The Juneteenth Committee is a 501C3 organization and enjoys the support of numerous local sponsors.
Jim Peters interviewed local author Charles Jones about his new novel “The Illusion of Simple”. Jones is the retired director of the public Management Center at the University of Kansas. Jones stated that he has always found writing to be empowering and retirement has allowed him more time to write.
The novel is a murder mystery set in a small western Kansas town that is struggling for its very existence. The characters are complex, like sheriff Billy Spire, a man with a troubled past who does his best for the town. Stonewall is a place with secrets and its own complicated history. Finally, “The Illusion of Simple” is a story of redemption. The book is available online and in local book stores.
Jim Peters made many trips to Arlington National Cemetery when he lived in Washington D.C. and he was inspired to write Arlington National Cemetery; Shrine to America’s Heroes. Arlington is a U.S. Cemetery operated by the U.S. Army. It is located just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C. Arlington was established in the Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House which was owned by Mary Curtis Lee and Robert E. Lee. The land was confiscated during the war and used, in part, as a cemetery for the Union dead. After the war , Curtis Lee, heir to the property, successfully sued the government and eventually sold the land back to the government.
Decoration Day was first celebrated on May 30, 1868 due to the efforts of John A. Logan, Grand Army of the Republic, to honor the Union dead. Arlington became the resting place for the military dead from all our wars. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was established after World War I. In 1971 Congress made the last Monday in May Memorial Day. Some 400,000 veterans are buried at Arlington and the cemetery has become a symbol for those many sacrifices. Jim Peter’s book is the top selling book at Arlington.
Sarah Bell, Watkins Museum Development Director, made a return engagement to talk abut women’s suffrage in Kansas history. Kansas women were active in community affairs in the early years and by 1861 women were serving on school boards. Susanna Salter was elected mayor of Argonia in 1889. Two years later Lucy Sullivan was elected mayor of Baldwin and served with an all woman city council. Together they undertook an ambitious community development program. Soon a number of other communities elected women to local office.
In 1867 a proposal to enfranchise black men and white women failed. This set off a debate about whether one group should be advanced ahead of the other. The rise of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in 1874 introduced prohibition as a progressive cause. The WCTU became identified with women’s suffrage. Full women’s suffrage was passed in Kansas in 1912, eight years before the national amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Kansas played a leadership role in the fight to secure the right to vote for women.