Six years ago, a group of friends decided they wanted to create a community event celebrating positivity in Kansas City. They felt there were not enough events uplifting the urban core, instead it seemed like the only time they would get together was for funerals.

“In the African-American culture, we tend to meet at funerals to see people that we haven’t seen in years,” said Priscilla Harris. “We decided that’s not how we wanted to meet again.”

Harris and other organizers started the annual Old School Cookout to gather old high school friends and community members together without violence.

The cookout this year took place Aug. 14 at the Swope Park Bandstand where hundreds of people mingled over barbecue and games. The cookout had vendors, roller skating, a two-step contest and music from the live band Total Package.

The founders sell t-shirts and fundraise all year to provide food and drinks for the event.

“Not only do we come together as a community, we support small businesses, give them vendor opportunities,” Harris said.  “It’s all about community and getting together and it’s all about love.”

Jazzlyn "Jazzie” is the former senior reporter for our team, who joined the company in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, through the Report for America service program. For the past two years, she covered...

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