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Juneteenth Celebrations Planned in Region

Special events and celebrations are scheduled across Greater Lansing to mark the commemoration of Juneteenth this month.

Juneteenth commemorates the June 19, 1865, arrival of federal troops in Galveston, Texas, to free the last slaves in the United States more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Celebrated since then as the country’s second independence day, Juneteenth has grown in popularity and was made a federal holiday in 2021.

Across the Greater Lansing region, numerous festivities are planned on and in the days leading up to Juneteenth Celebration Day. Here’s a few happenings at a glance:

Lansing

The Lansing Juneteenth Celebration began June 8 and runs through June 15. The weeklong celebration kicked off  with the annual community softball game at Benjamin Davis Park. This year’s game included a tribute to the Negro Leagues. Subsequent events during the week include:

  • The Capitol City Kick-off Ceremony and Essay/Scholarship Awards Program runs from 5:30-7:30 p.m. June 13 at Lansing Community College.
  • The Freedom Festival from June 14-15 at St. Joseph Park includes vendors, food, music, dance performances and more. Look for 517 Magazine at the park June 15.
  • The African American Parade begins at 11 a.m. June 15 from J.W. Sexton High School, 102 S. McPherson Ave. in Lansing, and ends at St. Joseph Park, where there will be a health fair and NAACP job fair.

East Lansing

The fourth annual Michigan State University Juneteenth Commemorative Celebration runs from 5-8:30 p.m. June 14 at the Breslin Center. This year’s theme is “Acknowledging the Journey: Freedom, Resilience, Empowerment and Liberation,” and the event features multifaceted musician and host Rodney Page, gospel music by Gregory D and Co., jazz music by the MSU College of Music, and more.

Other events in the city include:

  • The “Imagining Black Futures” exhibit in the lobby of the main MSU Library is set June 17-21. This year’s Juneteenth theme explores the cultural and literary genre of Afrofuturism. Novels from the library’s young adult literature collection take readers on grand adventures that challenge the imagination.
  • Afrofuturism and Quilts: Materializing Black Futures and Black Womxn’s Quilt Legacies” runs through July 19 at the MSU Museum. The exhibit draws inspiration from the themes of Afrofuturism, envisioning new realms for Black identity, culture and society. Each quilt showcased in the exhibition is expected to serve as an expression of the creators’ identities, experiences, beliefs and aspirations for a liberated Afrofuture.

Delta Township

A number of Juneteenth events are scheduled throughout Delta Township, including:

  • The Music in the Park Concert Series featuring Caleb Robinson and Reaching takes place at 7 p.m. June 18 in Sharp Park. The Smoke N Pig BBQ food truck will be on-site from 6-9 p.m.
  • The “And Still I Rise” story time runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 19 at the Socialight Society in the Lansing Mall. The event honors author and poet Maya Angelou.
  • A meet-and-greet event with author Omar Tyree takes place at the Socialight Society from 6-7:30 p.m. June 20. Tyree is a New York Times bestselling author, NAACP Image Award winner, recipient of the Phillis Wheatley Literary Award, journalist, speaker, entrepreneur, and filmmaker.
  • A community reading event focused on Juneteenth Freedom Day runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 21 at Barnes & Noble in the Lansing Mall. The event includes stories and activities that celebrate emancipation, perseverance and success.

Meridian Township

Juneteenth Over Lake Lansing is set for 1-7 p.m. June 15 in at Lake Lansing Park South in Meridian Township. The day includes live music, games and more. Stilt walkers and fire breathers will be on-site from 1-3 p.m., as well as a bubbles activity area and balloon animals available for the majority of the event.

The musical lineup for the day includes:

  • Deacon Earl and Kidd Cincinnati from 2-3 p.m.
  • Mixed Flavors from 3-5 p.m.
  • Global Village from 5-7 p.m.

The event is free, but a vehicle entrance fee will apply.

Lifestyle