Michigan communities host Juneteenth events celebrating culture, education and activism

By: - June 15, 2022 7:05 am

Juneteenth celebration, Lansing Community College, June 13, 2019 | Derek Robertson

As Juneteenth approaches, communities and institutions throughout Michigan are hosting parades, festivals and educational events to commemorate the holiday.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day or Emancipation Day, is celebrated annually on June 19, marking the anniversary of Union soldiers arriving in Galveston, Texas, and informing enslaved African Americans of their freedom, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. 

In 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. This year will mark the first year where Michigan recognizes Juneteenth as an official state holiday, as well as a statewide court holiday. 

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Rachel Dawson, a member of the executive team of the University of Michigan’s Women of Color task force and the 2022 Juneteenth Symposium Committee, said it’s important to organize educational and cultural community events to show people an informed, respectful way to celebrate Juneteenth as a holiday. 

“Now that it’s a newer, more recent national holiday, I think a lot of people are trying to figure out: What does a celebration look like? And the Black community, we’ve known for years,” Dawson said. “We celebrate our culture, our food; our music; our heritage.”

Celebrations also include social justice work.

“The earliest celebrations of Juneteenth included poetry readings and cookouts, but they also included people trying to reconnect families that were separated through slavery. They also involved following up on the new [civil rights] amendments and making sure that those were being enforced state by state,” Dawson said. 

Dawson spoke out against companies like Walmart working to commercialize the holiday through products like Juneteenth ice cream.

“This country was built on free labor, and if anyone’s gonna profit off this holiday, it should be to the benefit of the Black community,” Dawson said.

Here is list of Juneteenth celebrations and events happening across the state: 

University of Michigan Juneteenth Symposium, Ann Arbor

Events begin at 9 a.m., Wednesday, June 15 with virtual, hybrid and in person events available.

The University of Michigan is hosting its second annual Juneteenth Symposium in partnership with the Ann Arbor branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The event will host two keynote speakers, Opal Lee, known as the “grandmother of Juneteenth” for her efforts to make Juneteenth a federally recognized holiday, and Minnijean Brown Trickey, a member of the Little Rock Nine, in conversation with renowned journalist Roland Martin. 

The symposium will host events from Wednesday, June 15 through Saturday, June 18. To view the full schedule of free events, visit juneteenth.umich.edu. Pre-registration is required.

Juneteenth Parade and Celebration, Benton Harbor

1 to 6 p.m., Saturday, June 18, downtown Benton Harbor

The Benton Harbor Juneteenth Cultural Awareness Committee will host a parade in downtown Benton Harbor on Saturday. The parade will begin on Main Street at 1 p.m. with the celebration being held at City Center Park from 2:30 to 6 p.m. The celebration will feature food, free haircuts and more. For more information, visit the Benton Harbor Juneteenth Cultural Awareness Committee on Facebook.

Philip Randolph Institute Detroit/Downriver Juneteenth Celebration, Dearborn

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 18, UAW Local 600, 10550 Dix Ave., Dearborn

The A. Philip Randolph Institute Detroit/Downriver chapter will host ducators, speakers, poets, musicians, dancers and provide voter registration/education during its Juneteenth celebration. The event is free and open to the public, and free lunch and refreshments will be provided. For more information visit the event page at apridetroitdownriver.org.

Farmington Area Juneteenth Celebration, Farmington Hills

Events begin 8 p.m. Friday, June 17, outside Nardin Park Church, 29887 W. Eleven Mile Road, Farmington Hills

The Farmington Area will host its fourth annual Juneteenth celebration with a family movie under the stars on Friday night, a freedom celebration on Saturday and and intercultural ancestral and collective healing event on Sunday. For more information on this free event visit the Eventbrite page here.  

Dearborn & Dearborn Heights Juneteenth Festival, Dearborn Heights

1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 19, Richard A. Young Recreation Center, 5400 McKinley St., Dearborn Heights

Dearborn will celebrate its second annual Juneteenth festival, featuring a hustle workshop, live music, food trucks, bounce houses and more. For more information, visit the event’s page on Eventbrite

Homage to Black Excellence’s Juneteenth Mobility Stroll and Roll Weekend, Dearborn

Events begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 16, Dearborn Artspace Annex, 13615 Michigan Ave., Dearborn

Homage to Black Excellence will host a variety of events in celebration of Juneteenth including a discussion on race and policing of African Americans, and exhibition of Black Art and a parade. For more information on these event, visit Dearborn Artspace on Eventbrite

Juneteenth Family Reunion, Southfield

Events begin 6 p.m. Friday, June 17 at DUO Restaurant and Lounge, 29555 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield

The Juneteenth Family Reunion is hosted by The Curators of Black Excellence as a safe, intergenerational family focused event featuring culture, food and entertainment. After the Juneteenth Toast Friday night at DUO Restaurant & Lounge, the signature event will be held at Catalpa Oaks County Park from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday. There will also be a church service and Father’s Day Brunch on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., also at Catalpa Oaks County Park. 

For more information, visit juneteenthfamreunion.org.

Juneteenth Freedom Weekend, Detroit

Events begin 6 p.m. Friday, June 17, Eastern Market Brewing Company, 2515 Riopelle St., Detroit

The city of Detroit, Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance, Detroit Branch NAACP, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Juneteenth Jubilee, Detroit Means Business and Eastern Market Development Corporation partnered to put together a number of events in Detroit. The weekend will begin with the Rhythm and Art Block Party at 6 p.m. on Friday at the Eastern Market Brewing Company. Events will continue Saturday with the Juneteenth Jubilee Stroll at Livernois Avenue of Fashion from noon to 6 p.m. Finally, the Juneteenth Freedom Fest will be held at Eastern Market Shed 5 from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

For more information about the events, visit detroitmeansbusiness.org/event-details/juneteenth-freedom-weekend.

Charles H. Wright Museum | Susan J. Demas

Juneteenth Jubilee Freedom Weekend, Detroit

Events begin Saturday, June 18, with in-person and online events available

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit will highlight education in its Juneteenth Jubilee Freedom Weekend, with its Underground Railroad Treasure Hunt taking participants to historic sites in Detroit, along with information and presentations from national and community partners. 

For more information on how to participate, visit thewright.org/programs/juneteenth-jubilee-freedom-weekend.

Madison Heights Juneteenth Celebration, Madison Heights

Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 18, Civic Center Par, 360 W 13 Mile Rd., Madison Heights

The second annual Madison Heights Juneteenth Festival will be hosted by Madison Heights Citizens United and Madison Heights Human Relations and Equity Commission. The event will feature educational exhibits, children’s activities, food trucks, vendors, live music and a rib contest. For more information visit madisonheightsjuneteenth.com.

National Council of Negro Women Macomb County Section Second Annual Juneteenth Celebration, Mt. Clemens

2 to 7 p.m., Saturday June 18, 58 Orchard St., Mt. Clemens

National Council of Negro Women Macomb County Section will host a free event for Juneteenth, including crafts for children, a live DJ, poets, musical artists, food trucks and more. The event will also feature a segment on life at historically Black colleges and universities, career representatives from Michigan Works! and a crowning of a Mr. And Mrs. Juneteenth. For more information visit the event page on the NCNW-Macomb County Section Facebook.

Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom, Royal Oak 

4 to 8 p.m. Sunday, June 19, Centennial Commons Park, Royal Oak

Royal Oak will celebrate Juneteenth at Centennial Commons Park with music, games, performances, food trucks, giveaways and more. For more details visit the event page on allevents.in

Ujamaa Fest 2022, Detroit

Events begin 9 p.m. Friday, June 17, check in location TBA

Ujamaa Fest is a three-day Juneteenth celebration rooted in supporting Black business owners and community members. The events will begin Friday with a Black business and bar crawl and will conclude on Sunday with the event’s Black Brunch with a Purpose, benefitting Project Rise Up. For more information, and to sign up for events visit the Juneteenth Ujamaa Fest’s eventbrite page.

2022 Traditional Flint Juneteenth Celebration, Flint

Events held all week leading up to the holiday.

Flint and Genesee County will host its annual Juneteenth Celebration with events all week, leading up to a celebration and concert in the park on June 19. On Friday, June 17, the Sloan Museum of Discovery and Longway Planetarium will host a unity walk, African ancestral reverence ceremony, storytelling, dancing and hustle-fest on the museum and planetarium lawn. The event will also feature a ujamaa vendor fair for Black businesses and food vendors. 

For event schedules, go to sloanlongway.org/juneteenth.

Juneteenth Festival and Parade, Flint

Events begin Friday, June 17 at Flint City Hall

The city of Flint will host a variety of events in celebration of Juneteenth, including a Black Wallstreet vendor event, a concert and fireworks show featuring Mama Sol, and the Juneteenth Parade and festival. Festivities will also include a street renaming ceremony and block party, renaming Spencer Street after Claressa Shields, a world champion boxer, two-time Olympic gold medalist and Flint native. 

For more information, visit flintjuneteenth.com.

Justice 4 All Juneteenth Jam, Grand Rapids

1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, June 19, Rosa Parks Circle, 135 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids

The second annual Justice 4 All Juneteenth Jam will celebrate African American culture and pay homage to Juneteenth. The event will feature live music from local artists and DJs, community speakers, Black-owned food vendors, Black-owned business vendors, and a graffiti art showcase. The event is free to attend. For more details, and to register for the event, visit iwantjustice4all.com/pages/events.

Spring GR Juneteenth Fest, Grand Rapids

2 to 7 p.m., Saturday, June 18, John Ball Zoo, 1300 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids

Spring GR will be hosting its Juneteenth Fest at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids. The business training company says the event will feel like a community barbecue, with live music, food and more than 100 vendors. For more information visit the event posting here

I Am Academy Juneteenth, Holland

Events begin 7 p.m., Friday June 17 Park Theatre, 248 S. River Ave., Holland

I Am Academy, a nonprofit organization working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline is holding a number of events to celebrate the holiday. Events begin with the Soulful Music Festival on Friday, and continue on Saturday with a three-on-three basketball tournament, festival and market, and the A Taste of History Music Festival. For details, visit iamacademymi.org/juneteenth.

Jackson College Juneteenth Celebration, Jackson

Events begin at 10 a.m., Friday, June 17, at the Michigan Theatre, 124 N. Mechanic St., Jackson.

In celebration of Juneteenth, Jackson College is hosting live performances, a resource fair, and a community panel discussing social justice and criminal justice reform. For more information and the event schedule visit jccmi.edu/events/juneteenth-celebration.

Juneteenth Celebrations, Kalamazoo

Begins at noon, Friday, June 17, with events in-person and online

Multiple student and educational groups, community organizations and local businesses are celebrating Juneteenth throughout this upcoming weekend in Kalamazoo. From ancestry events to live music and a Black film fest, you can visit Juneteenth Kalamazoo on Facebook for a list of the many events being held in the community. 

517 Juneteenth Weekend, Lansing

Events begin at 8:30 p.m., Thursday, June 16, at the Robin Theatre, 1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing

The 517 Juneteenth weekend will offer a variety of events and activities, including a comedy jam at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, an ice cream social from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, a festival in REO town Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m. and a Jazz Night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday. For more details and a full schedule of events,visit 517juneteenth.com.

Cooley Law School, Lansing

Noon to 1 p.m., Friday, June 17, hosted on Webex

Western Michigan’s Cooley Law School will host a digital Juneteenth celebration with Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Kwamé L. Rowe. For details visit cooley.edu/events.

Lansing Community College | Susan J. Demas

Lansing Juneteenth Celebration, Lansing

Events begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 16 at the Lansing Community College Gannon Building, 422 N. Washington Sq., Lansing

The Lansing Juneteenth Celebration will kick off on Thursday night with a speech from Shauna Dunnings, chief probate judge and chief circuit court judge pro tempore of the 30th Judicial Circuit Court, Ingham County and an announcement of the winners of the Dr. Eva L. Evans Essay Competition & Scholarship Program. Festival activities will be held in St. Joseph Park in Lansing from 4-8 p.m. on Friday and from noon to dusk on Saturday. The Juneteenth African American Parade will be held on Saturday starting at 11 a.m. with Grand Marshals Willard Walker, a well-recognized Lansing civil servant and civil rights activist, and U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly). The event’s annual softball game will be held at Benjamin Davis park from 2 to 4 p.m. 

For more information, visit lansingjuneteenthcelebration.org.

MSU Juneteenth Celebration, East Lansing

5:30 to 9 p.m., Friday, June 17, online and at the Breslin Center, 534 Birch Rd., East Lansing

Michigan State University will host its second annual Juneteenth celebration on Friday, June 17. It will feature speeches from students and faculty, art exhibits, live music and performances, a fashion gala and a Black Wall Street business exhibition to center Black student entrepreneurship. The program will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. with festivities until 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit inclusion.msu.edu/awards/Juneteenth.

Juneteenth at Mona Lake Park, Muskegon

Events begin at 5 p.m., Friday, June 17 at Mona Lake Park, Muskegon

Muskegon’s third annual Juneteenth celebration will be held from 5 p.m. Friday, June 17 through 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 19. The event will feature food, fire works, kids activities and live music. For more information, visit the event page on Facebook

Ypsilanti Juneteenth Celebration, Ypsilanti

Events begin at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 18 in the parking lot behind Puffer Reds, 113 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti

Ypsilanti will host its second annual Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19. Saturday’s events will feature hustle lessons, African dancers and drummers, poets, dancers, orators, a Jazz concert, R&B and vendors. There will also be a kids corner on South Washington Street at the Black Lives Matter mural site. On Sunday, there will be a worship experience, comedy set and a gospel concert. For more information, visit the event page here.  

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Kyle Davidson
Kyle Davidson

Kyle Davidson covers state government alongside health care, business and the environment. A graduate of Michigan State University, Kyle studied journalism and political science. He previously covered community events, breaking news, state policy and the environment for outlets including the Lansing State Journal, the Detroit Free Press and Capital News Service.