Nicodemus' Emancipation Celebration returns this summer. Here's what you need to know.

Brianna Childers
Hays Daily News
The first trail marker northwest of Ellis noting the 34-mile Ellis Trail, which Black people traveled in the late 1870s to reach the Black settlement of Nicodemus.

For the last 142 years, Nicodemus descendants from all over have gathered in the small Kansas town for the decades-old tradition to celebrate the past and current residents' history and heritage. 

This year will mark the 143rd year and after a year of mostly virtual activities, the four-day celebration will include a variety of in-person activities from a 5K walk and run, guest speakers, live music and a baseball game. 

When and where will the event take place?

Nicodemus' Emancipation Celebration will take place July 29-August 1 in Nicodemus, a small town located in northwest Kansas. 

What can I expect during the celebration?

The four-day event will be packed with fun and historical activities to suit all attendees' needs. 

The celebration will kick off on the evening of July 29. Those arriving early can take part in a meet and greet. 

The morning of July 30 will start with an Ellis Trail bus tour — the trail settlers traveled along.  The tour will be followed by games and activities in the afternoon and music in the park in the evening. 

A 5K run and walk, pancake feed and parade will take place during the morning of July 30 followed by a talk by Kansan Donna McClish and a performance by A.R.I.S.E. An AME Methodist Church museum dedication and fashion and talent show will also take place in the afternoon. 

During the evening hours of July 30, a vintage baseball game and music in the park is scheduled. 

The celebration will wrap up on August 1 with a morning church service. 

There will also be several events that will be streamed on social media for those who don't feel comfortable or aren't able to attend this year's celebration. 

Organizers are planning to follow local COVID-19 protocols and guidelines. 

Where should I stay?

Organizers have a list of lodging options on the event's website at Attendees can stay at a hotel as close as six miles away in Damar or as far as 50 miles in Hays. Guests are encouraged to book reservations early. 

Former residents look toward the one-room schoolhouse in Nicodemus, Kansas, the oldest all-black town west of the Mississippi.

What is the history of Nicodemus?

Nicodemus was founded in 1877 as an all-Black town by former slaves from Kentucky. The town, the first of its kind in the western United States, was settled by individuals who dreamed of creating a town that was their own. 

To this day, Nicodemus remains the only all-Black town west of the Mississippi River. Most of the town's population has moved on and only about 30 residents remain. 

The town has been home to several well-known people including six former NFL players and the first black woman to graduate in the U.S. with a PhD. 

In 1996, Nicodemus was designated as a National Historic Site by the National Park Service. 

The Nicodemus Township Hall and Visitor Center has exhibits on display and is one of five historic buildings in the town.