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Mid-Michigan communities to celebrate Juneteenth with festivals, a march and a parade

Wynn Pointaux

The city of East Lansing is holding its first annual Juneteenth All Community March and Celebration on Sunday.

The holiday on June 19th commemorates the post-Civil War emancipation of enslaved people in America. Juneteenth falls on this coming Monday this year.

The city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director Elaine Hardy says marches have long highlighted social justice issues in the country.

"What better way than to show celebration is to participate in a collective activity that anybody can participate in?”

The march will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center before heading to the East Lansing Farmers Market in Valley Court Park.

Hardy says there will be activities at the market until 2 p.m.

“There’s going to be live jazz music. The East Lansing Public Library is going to be there with their mobile library," she said. "We’ll still have some African drumming. There will be food, children’s activities of all types and just a celebratory atmosphere."

Meanwhile, there will also be Juneteenth celebrations in Lansing through the weekend.

The kick off is a ceremony Thursday with a keynote speech from Michigan Supreme Court Justice Kyra Harris Bolden. She is the first Black woman to serve on the state's highest court.

We always say that African American history, Black history is U.S. history, and it should not be separated.
Marilyn Rogers

Chairperson Marilyn Rogers says she hopes the celebration goes beyond just one day and that Juneteenth resonates with people for years to come.

“We want to advance the story of Juneteenth as regular U.S. history not just African American. We always say that African American history, Black history is U.S. history, and it should not be separated.”

Rogers says she looks forward every year to younger generations of people participating in the events.

“What brings joy to me is seeing the little ones and having them understand, yes, this is a celebration, and this celebration is about you and your ancestors."

A parade will take place Saturday morning followed by a festival at St. Joseph Park in the afternoon.

The 517 Juneteenth weekend is taking place in Lansing's REO Town through Sunday. The event includes a festival on Saturday featuring music and performances.

Michigan State University is hosting its third annual Juneteenth Jubilee Friday from 5-8 p.m. at the Breslin Student Events Center.

Meridian Township is holding its annual Freedom Fest this weekend which includes a film screening of Queen of Katwe at the Meridian Historical Village Friday night and an inaugural Blues & Jazz Festival Saturday afternoon and evening at Lake Lansing Park South.

There will also be a presentation Sunday afternoon at the Historical Village Chapel about Black spirituality.

WKAR's Sophia Saliby contributed to this report.

Scott Pohl has maintained an on-call schedule reporting for WKAR following his retirement after 36 years on the air at the station.
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