FLINT — This year’s Juneteenth celebrations are going to be the biggest ever in the City of Flint, including a new 3-day festival with a Champions Parade, gospel festival and a Black Wall Street featuring local vendors.
A coalition of community organizers have come together to promote a full weekend of fun and educational events throughout the City of Flint. The coalition includes organizers of multiple events planned for the weekend, all working together to ensure this year’s celebration is the largest ever, said April Cook-Hawkins, who is helping to coordinate the new Flint Citywide Juneteenth Weekend festival, one of the many coalition events.
“We will honor our ancestors, highlight our heritage, celebrate our community all weekend and rejoice in our solidarity. We are working together to make sure that this year’s celebration of Juneteenth is bigger and better than ever before in the City of Flint,” Cook-Hawkins said. “Seeing so many brothers and sisters come together to create a variety of celebrations this year — the first year Juneteenth is an official Flint holiday — is especially meaningful.”
Juneteenth is a celebration of African- American freedom and heritage. Celebrated nationwide on June 19, it commemorates the day in 1865 when slaves in Galveston, Texas, were freed, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley announced plans to make Juneteenth an official holiday during last year’s celebrations, making Flint the first city in Michigan to do so. While other cities recognize the historic significance of the day, Flint is the first to declare it an official holiday including time off for employees.
Multiple organizers also are coming together to support the Champions Parade at noon on Saturday, June 19. The parade will celebrate Flint’s champions including the city’s athletic greats and community leaders. Parade headliners will be announced at a later date.
The parade will start in front Flint City Hall and proceed north on Saginaw Street to Berston Field House, the historic hub for the city’s African- American community. The nearly 100-year-old community center was the first in Flint to allow black residents to use the facility and is the new home of the Greater Flint African American Sports Hall of Fame.
The parade will be followed by a Black Wall Street vendor fair, food and fun for the whole family at Berston. Vendor applications and parade entries are now being accepted at www.flintjuneteenth.com.
The coalition is continuing to welcome other organizers and events. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information. So far, the list of events celebrating Juneteenth in Flint includes:
• Black Wall Street featuring Flint’s strong entrepreneurial spirit and black-owned businesses: 3-6 p.m. Friday, June 18, at Berston Field House, 3300 N. Saginaw St. Also Saturday and Sunday.
• Champions Parade, a part of the Citywide Juneteenth Weekend: Noon Saturday, June 19, starting in front of Flint City Hall and proceeds north on Saginaw Street to Berston Field House.
• Juneteenth Fun Fair, a part of the Citywide Juneteenth 26 Weekend, featuring educational exhibits, food, bounce houses and fun for the whole family: 1-6 p.m. Saturday, June 19, at Berston Field House.
• Gospel Festival, a part of the Citywide Juneteenth Weekend, featuring praise and purpose: 3-6 p.m. Sunday, June 20, at Riverbank Park next to Riverfront Banquet Center, downtown Flint.
• Kerale C Presents Juneteenth Festival: 4-8 p.m. Saturday, June 19, in Brush Park, downtown Flint.
• Traditional Juneteenth Celebration Celebrating Black Liberation: 2-6 p.m. Friday, June 18, at Sloan Museum and Longway Planetarium.
• Black Buckham Juneteenth Festival: 1-9 p.m. Saturday, June 19, in Buckham Alley, downtown Flint.
• Traditional Juneteenth Celebration Celebrating Black Liberation Parade: Marshaling starts at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 19, at Max Brandon Park.
Also, WOW Outreach will host the 20th annual Unity March one week later on June 26. The parade starts at 6202 Dupont St. beginning at 11:30 a.m. and features speakers and performances. — G.G.