TOPEKA, (KSNT)— Juneteenth celebrations in Kansas are prompting calls for unity and action on gun violence in the United States.
A “Unity Walk” and Flag Raising Celebration was held at the Kansas State Capitol on Monday, as part of a series of upcoming events. One of the themes this year is aimed at addressing gun violence in the U.S.
“In every culture and every community, it’s helpful when there is a rallying point, around which people can gather to celebrate the good things about their lives,” said Dr. Beryl New, Chairman of the state’s African American Affairs Commission. “For me, and many in this community, Juneteenth is one of those good things.”
Dr. New, along with other speakers at this year’s event, called on people to head to the polls this year, and spearhead changes in their community.
“Go to the ballot box. Let your vote be your voice,” New said.
Juneteenth, which takes place on June 19, commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. This year, leaders of the International Institute for Improving Race Relations, a group aimed at improving race relationships in the U.S., will hold a press conference at the Statehouse Tuesday morning. According to a press release, the group plans to address the rise in violence in the U.S.
“We’ll discuss Race Relations and the violence happening across the United States. Kansas has been the leader and is called upon again to draw a line in the sand against racism. We’ll also discuss our plan to create partnerships for preventative positive change. This will be called ‘How To Improve Race Relations.’ “International Institute for Improving Race Relations, Inc.
The organization’s theme for upcoming events at the Capitol this year, starting June 18, is “God’s Healing Our Alliance To Gun Violence.” This comes as more than 200 mass shootings have taken place so far this year.
In May, 10 people were killed during a racist attack at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. Cindy White with Topeka Family & Friends said it’s time for the community to come together and take action.
“This is a very critical time in our community… there’s a need to have much more gun control laws. There has to be some type of legislation to give more sanctions on people, who do carry guns,” White said. “I think it’s time for us to come together as brothers and sisters, celebrate our diversity, and learn to appreciate and respect each other for our differences.”