An Assembly of Community Gatherings, Including Juneteenth

Image is of the Kansas River, reflecting blue sky, with tall grasses in the foreground, the bridge from Downtown into North Lawrence, tall grasses and small trees in the foreground, in the background are more trees and the old Bowersock powerhouse

This is an invitation to deepen your connections in our community, attend notable events in Lawrence, and checkout related reading. I hope you’ll attend several of these local happenings and that you also find books of interest. Please read on!

The Wakarusa Wetlands Celebration is Sunday, July 10, rescheduled from June 5 due to potential lightning in the weather forecast. Dr. Daniel Wildcat generously collaborated with me to gather authors and artists to share their creative work, connections to the Wakarusa River Wetlands and more of the outside world thus enhancing everyone's connections to nature, a sense of place and community. We’ll meet at the Medicine Wheel Earthwork on the campus at Haskell Indian Nations University and begin with a special land recognition by Dr. Daniel Wildcat, a Yuchi member of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma. Professor Wildcat is director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center and also teaches Indigenous & American Indian Studies at Haskell. Lawrence Public Library is partnering with Haskell Indian Nations University and Raven Book Store to offer this event. Learn more on the library's website about the Wakarusa Wetlands Celebration, opens a new window and on the library's Facebook page, opens a new window.

The authors & artists presenting at this event include:

Dr. Daniel Wildcat, Yuchi Member of the Muscogee Nation, Author
Ron Brave, Lakota, Singer
Mona Cliff, Aaniiih/Nakota Nations, Gros Ventre Tribe, Artist
Jimmy Beason, Osage Nation, Author
Dr. Julia GoodFox, Pawnee, Haskell President, Author
David Titterington, Adjunct Art Instructor, Artist
Trevor Guinn, Cherokee, Artist
Huascar Medina, Kansas Poet Laureate
Ronda Miller, Poet
Dave Loewenstein, Artist, Author
Jill Mickel, Artist
Ken Lassman, Naturalist, Author

View the books by authors noted above: Local Authors at the Wakarusa Wetlands Celebration, opens a new window

I also wanted to share news of events in conjunction with the Douglas County Community Remembrance Project, June 9-11. These efforts will help our community reckon with an abhorrent incident that is best faced with community support; a memorial will be installed to honor victims of a lynching in Lawrence in 1882. View a flyer of the events: Douglas County Community Remembrance Project.

The library is partnering with the Lawrence - Douglas County Community Remembrance Project to host author Brent Campney, author of This is Not Dixie: Racist Violence in Kansas: 1861-1927.  As noted on the event announcement, "Campney's groundbreaking book rewrites fundamental narratives on mob action, race relations, African American resistance, and racism's grim past in the heartland. This event is presented as part of the official dedication of a historical marker near Lawrence's City Hall. The marker remembers Pete Vinegar, Isaac King and George Robertson, who were lynched by a mob at the Kansas River bridge on June 10, 1882. The dedication ceremony will take place on Friday June 10th at 7 pm." The flyer of all local Community Remembrance Project events is also on Facebook.

The Lawrence KS Juneteenth Organization is inviting everyone to join celebrations throughout the weekend of June 16-19. Full details are outlined on the Lawrence, Kansas Juneteenth website, opens a new window and on Facebook, opens a new window.

I would not normally pick up a book described as eerie, but The Trees by Percival L. Everett is also wisely outrageous, including eccentric characters who move the story with wry cynicism. This surreal mystery is a though-provoking recounting of the real murder of Emmet Till and more reckoning of racist violence which Lawrence Public Library's director Brad Allen proclaimed to be among the best books published in 2021. Additional books included below are titles I look forward to reading. I anticipate The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans to be similarly gritty and sardonic with complex wit as in Percival Everett's tale. And note the local relevance of The Quest for Citizenship by KU professor Kim Cary Warren with the subtitle: African American and Native American Education in Kansas, 1880-1935.

Here is my wish: let this post inspire you to make deeper bonds with people and places in Lawrence and read the highlighted books on behalf of all the big-hearted efforts made by many people in our home town!


Gratitude to Dr. Daniel Wildcat and all the authors and artists presenters at the Wakarusa Wetlands Celebration for generously sharing about your creative work!

Thanks Ursula Barnes Minor (President of the NAACP Lawrence Branch) and thanks also Kerry Altenbernd (coordinator and liaison for the Lawrence/Douglas County Community Remembrance Project Coalition) for big-hearted work in our home town!

Gratitude also to Janine R Colter (President of the Lawrence KS Juneteenth Organization) for sharing your wonderful energy to make these important community gatherings happen!

Cover image credit: Kansas River bridge photo by Shirley Braunlich

- Shirley Braunlich is a Readers' Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.

This Is Not Dixie

Hostile Heartland

The Quest for Citizenship

The Trees

The Office of Historical Corrections

-Shirley Braunlich is a Readers' Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.