Let freedom ring: Greater Lansing celebrates Juneteenth


On June 19, 1865, more than 250,000 African American slaves in Texas — the last of the country’s enslaved population — were freed after being informed of the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued two-and-a-half years earlier. Today, that date is recognized as Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth falls on a Wednesday this year, but celebrations will take place around the Lansing area beginning Thursday (June 13) through June 23. To learn more about all that’s happening, read on.


Lansing Juneteenth Celebration

Since 1993, the annual Lansing Juneteenth Celebration has worked to “commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States by celebrating the joys of liberty, educating the community about our heritage and promoting positive cultural interaction,” according to its website.

This year’s three-day schedule of events begins with the annual kickoff ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Thursday (June 13) at Lansing Community College’s Gannon Building, featuring performances, speeches and an awards ceremony honoring the winners of the annual Juneteenth essay competition and scholarship program. The keynote speaker will be Lansing attorney Teresa A. Caine Bingman, whose social justice work includes representing clients in class-action lawsuits during the Flint Water Crisis, working as the lead consultant on the development of the Lansing Mayor’s Racial Justice and Equity Alliance and co-founding Lansing’s Black Success Network alongside her husband, Lloyd Bingman, and former NFL running back T.J. Duckett.

The annual Freedom Festival runs from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday (June 14) and 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday (June 15) at St. Joseph Park. Friday evening’s activities include trivia, line dancing, a vendor market, community resource tables, DJ sets and performances by Alan Sloan & the Key Change Band and hip-hop artists Taty and Kei Nova.

Saturday’s events begin with a 5K run/walk/roll at 8:30 a.m., followed by the annual African American Parade at 11 a.m., both beginning at J.W. Sexton High School. Visit runsignup.com/Race/MI/Lansing/Juneteenth5krunwalk to register for the 5K and lansingjuneteenthcelebration.org/parade to view the parade route.

The day continues with a packed lineup of performances on the Freedom Festival’s main stage, including African drumming, dance, gospel music, R&B, blues and more. For a schedule of performance times, visit lansingjuneteenthcelebration.org/schedule. The Saturday portion of the festival will also offer a job, health and community resource fair from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.;  a vendor market from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m; children’s activities from noon to 5 p.m.; and a fireworks display at dusk.


517 Juneteenth Weekend

The Ourspace Foundation’s fourth annual 517 Juneteenth Weekend in REO Town aims to “honor Black history, promote wellness, provide high-quality and accessible entertainment opportunities and celebrate freedom,” according to a press release.

The weekend will kick off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday (June 13) at the Cadillac Room with a seminar focusing on Black wellness. A lineup of Black women speakers, including state Sen. Sarah Anthony, will explore the eight dimensions of wellness: financial, occupational, social, emotional, spiritual, mental, physical and environmental. The seminar will be followed by a mixer with complimentary refreshments and DJ sets by Ozay Moore. Tickets are donation-based and can be reserved at 517juneteenth.com, with all proceeds going toward 517 Juneteenth Weekend programming.

A free ice cream social will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday (June 14) at Riverview Church’s REO Town branch, offering frozen treats from RJ’s Metropolitan Ice Cream Co., inflatables, break dancing, music by All of the Above Hip Hop Academy, youth vendors, kids’ activities hosted by Impression 5 Science Center and the PNC Mobile Learning Adventure and more.

The free 517 Juneteenth Festival will run from 3:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday (June 15) on South Washington Avenue between Elm and South Streets, featuring performances by R&B singer-songwriter Kevin Ross, hip-hop artist MikeyyAustin, Christian R&B and gospel vocalist Tasha Page-Lockhart and jazz ensemble Caleb Robinson & Reaching as well as DJ sets, vendors, a food court and a Kidz Zone.

The weekend will end with a Father’s Day jazz concert at 6:30 p.m. Sunday (June 16) at the Cadillac Room, featuring performances by Rockelle Whitaker and Michael Reed & the Revelation, plus DJ sets by DJ Dolo. Beverages and hors d'oeuvres will be provided. Like the seminar, tickets are donation-based, with proceeds going toward 517 Juneteenth Weekend programming.


MSU Juneteenth Commemorative Celebration

Michigan State University’s fourth annual Juneteenth Commemorative Celebration will run from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Friday (June 14) at the Breslin Center. This year’s theme is “Acknowledging the Journey: Freedom, Resilience, Empowerment and Liberation.” Violinist Rodney Page will host the free program, which will feature gospel music by Gregory D and Co., jazz music by a College of Music quintet, a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by vocalist Phoenix Miranda, a Black Wall Street vendor fair and more.

Graphic novelist Tim Fielder, known for works such as “Matty’s Rocket” and “Infinitum,” will host a special Afrofuturism exhibit at the event. According to the Smithsonian Institution, the Afrofuturism genre “expresses notions of Black identity, agency and freedom through creative works and activism that envision liberated futures for Black life.” Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about his forthcoming adaptation of W.E.B. DuBois’ “The Comet,” recognized as one of the earliest Afrofuturist stories.

Food will be provided by MSU’s Kellogg Catering and local Black-owned business Sweet Encounter Bakery & Cafe. The menu includes Southern-fried catfish nuggets, oven-baked barbecue chicken, vegan cauliflower curry, angel eggs, mac and cheese, collard greens, cornbread muffins, mini red velvet cupcakes, mini sweet potato pies and mini cherry cheesecakes.

Those interested in attending the program are encouraged to RSVP at inclusion.msu.edu/awards/juneteenth/index.html.


Juneteenth over Lake Lansing

Meridian Township is scaling back its annual Juneteenth festival this year to one day of events from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday (June 15) at Lake Lansing Park South. The free Juneteenth over Lake Lansing celebration will feature live music by blues duo Deacon Earl and Kidd Cincinnati and variety cover bands Mixed Flavors and Global Village, plus yard games, small-business vendors, stilt walkers, fire breathers, balloon animals and a bubble play area. For more information, visit meridian.mi.us/about-us/calendar/meridian-freedom-fest.


Delta Township Juneteenth events

Delta Township will begin its schedule of Juneteenth events with a performance by jazz ensemble Caleb Robinson & Reaching at 7 p.m. Tuesday (June 18) at Sharp Park, with food available for purchase from the Smoke N’ Pig BBQ’s food truck from 6 to 9 p.m.

A story time honoring the late memoirist, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 19 at Socialight Society in the Lansing Mall, featuring readings of Angelou’s works, snacks and a craft activity.

Socialight Society will also hold a meet and greet with New York Times bestselling author, journalist, speaker, entrepreneur and filmmaker Omar Tyree at 6 p.m. June 20. Tyree will discuss his most recent book, “Control,” which follows “six talented but dangerously toxic personalities in the entertainment hotbed of Atlanta” as they “push their psychologist to her own vulnerable limits – and maybe beyond.”

Finally, a family-friendly reading event will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 21 at Barnes & Noble in the Lansing Mall, where kids can participate in story readings and activities that celebrate the emancipation of Black slaves and the stories of perseverance and success that followed.

For more information on all the events, visit deltami.gov/residents/events/juneteenth.php.


‘Black Rock 101’ at Fenner Nature Center

In celebration of Juneteenth, the Black Rock Sextet, a supergroup of local musicians, will perform a diverse selection of rock ‘n’ roll music written and performed by prominent Black musicians at 7 p.m. June 19 at Fenner Nature Center. The free show aims to highlight the contributions Black musicians have made to the genre throughout history.


Juneteenth concert at East Lansing Farmers Market

The East Lansing Farmers Market, in partnership with the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, will offer live jazz performances by the Pollux Quartet from 10:30 a.m. to noon and the Nat Lewis Quartet from 12:30 to 2 p.m. June 23. The East Lansing Public Library will be in attendance with its Library on the Go, offering books, movies and technology for rent.






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