Juneteenth events in Topeka celebrate freeing of enslaved people in US

Shontal Phillips saw the Miss Juneteenth Pageant as an opportunity to share a part of her heritage.

“It shows the importance of our culture, where we come from, how far we’ve come and what we can do,” said Phillips, “and it shows our value as African-Americans.”

Saturday’s pageant was one of several events recognizing Juneteenth. On June 19, 1865, a Union army general transmitted news of the Emancipation Proclamation to the residents of Galveston, Texas, even though the order had been issued two-and-a-half years earlier ..

Miss Juneteenth Pageant

Shontal Phillips, right, this year's Miss Juneteenth Queen, listens with other pageant winners to presenters at Monday's Juneteenth event at the Statehouse.

Contestants from high schools across Topeka competed for the title of Juneteenth queen.

Sa’niia Davis, of Shawnee Heights; Karla Hysten, of Topeka High; Choize Hysten, of Topeka High; Shontal Phillips, of Topeka West; Victoria Reed, of Highland Park; Haliyah Sales, of Topeka West; Azalaiya Thompson, of Topeka High ; and Imani Thompson, of Topeka High, took part.

“After the end of the show, all of us came out into like a semicircle and then they opened the envelope and they announced the winner,” said Phillips, who just finished her junior year at Topeka West, “so I had no clue I was going to win. “

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