Juneteenth is our newest national holiday, and a bittersweet one at that. More than a day off, it invites Americans to reckon with our history of racism and the human suffering that helped build this country.

When Juneteenth rolls around, Ed Jenkins feels both a sense of triumph and somberness. On June 19, 1865, Union troops arrived in Texas proclaiming that enslaved Black people there were free — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was supposed to end slavery in states that were in rebellion against the Union.

"Back then, it took so long before those people in Texas learned they were free," he said. "It took the U.S. Army to stop that illegal practice. So when I think about Juneteenth, it's with a mix of joy and sadness. The hope is that our joy will rise above the sadness."

Jenkins is a creator and performing artist from St. Paul who just launched his newest venture: a fictional PBS Kids mystery podcast that's set in north Minneapolis. Through "Keyshawn Solves It," young listeners (the podcast's intended audience is ages 5 to 9) learn about the meaning of Juneteenth.

But the plot is more Encyclopedia Brown than History Channel. The title character, 10-year-old Keyshawn, uses a set of keys created by one of his ancestors to solve a rash of bike disappearances in time for the North Side's Juneteenth bicycle parade. The final two installments of the eight-episode series drop next Monday to align with the holiday.

Like many Black Americans, Jenkins remembers partaking in Juneteenth festivities all his life, starting with community events growing up in his hometown of Racine, Wis. Yet many others may not be so familiar with the celebration, which became a national holiday in 2021, following outcry over the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. He figured the podcast could introduce Juneteenth to an audience that would include kids and parents alike.

Although Jenkins was brand new to podcasting, it was always a dream of his to collaborate with PBS Kids. A self-described "kid's guy," he's spent much of his professional career focused on children and families. A decade ago, he created "Lalo's Lunchbox," a live show and series of short videos that uses food to teach kids about doing good things for others. Most recently, he spent four years as the children's ministry director at Excelsior Covenant Church.

When PBS Kids put out a call for educational podcast pitches in 2021, Jenkins had no industry knowledge or connections. "I'm just a guy teaching Sunday school in a church basement," he recalled with a laugh.

He pitched the Keyshawn series, and it was one of six projects selected for an intensive podcast accelerator program. Even though PBS Kids ultimately chose a different project after the training, Jenkins remained in conversations with GBH Kids, which convinced PBS Kids to partner on the Keyshawn project. (The podcast was produced by GBH Kids and distributed by PBS Kids and PRX, all national heavyweights in the alphabet soup that is public media.)

Jenkins reached out to North Side organizations to gather feedback on the pilot. He partnered with Lucy Craft Laney Elementary School and invited students to audition. While professional child actors from all over the country perform the main roles, some of the supporting characters are kids from Lucy Laney. Local talent also includes hip-hop artist Priest Jones and Emmy Award-winning T. Mychael Rambo, who plays not only Pop the ice cream truck driver, but Freckles the dog.

"Anytime you hear a bark, that's T. Mychael Rambo," Jenkins said.

Even the classroom banter and the road noise are real audio snippets culled from the North Side.

The podcast also teaches kids about courage, resilience, neighborliness and other traits that Jenkins has identified as the keys to success. The 180-year-old keys Keyshawn inherited from his ancestors represents the gifts and talents inherent in every child that "are as custom as a fingerprint," Jenkins said.

Jenkins, 47, is a dad to a 3-year-old son. Little Josiah hasn't heard the podcast yet, but one day he'll learn more about Juneteenth. About the legacy of slavery. And about a man named George Floyd.

Jenkins pauses when I ask him how he will eventually teach Josiah about Floyd's murder.

"It would be a matter of sharing with him the tragedy of it, that he was killed in a way that shouldn't have happened. I can tell him that we are all trying to make the world better, and that he can make the world better," he said. "What's important is that we address the sad things in life, but that we also address the hope. That, to me, is what Juneteenth is about, too."

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the scope of the Emancipation Proclamation. It proclaimed the freedom of enslaved people only in states that were in rebellion against the Union.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the scope of the Emancipation Proclamation. It emancipated enslaved people only in states that were in rebellion against the Union.