Inspiring others to celebrate Juneteenth

Film, panel talk hope to encourage unique celebrations

| Author: Eric Baerren | Media Contact: Aaron Mills

The organizers of Central Michigan University’s Juneteenth event aim to help others to create Juneteenth events in their own communities.

Branded as Juneteenth on Warriner, the event will take place this year from noon to 2 p.m. on June 19 at the Sarah and Daniel Opperman Auditorium in Park Library. Organizers recognized the need to be more education-centered about the significance of Juneteenth. The holiday recognizes June 19, 1865, the day the last slaves were emancipated.

This year’s event will start with the one-hour screening of “Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom,” a documentary that explores the significance of the holiday’s meaning. The film challenges myths and promotes an underappreciated piece of American history, said Nikita Murry, director for diversity education with the Office for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“It’s another part of history we want to elevate because most Americans believe that all enslaved people were immediately freed with the Emancipation Proclamation,” she said. “That was not the case.”

The film will set the stage for a panel discussion following, from 1-2 p.m. The goal of the conversation is to help people develop Juneteenth celebrations unique to their communities.

Panelists will include Mayor Amy Perschbacher and Commissioner Maureen Eke, two members of Mount Pleasant's city commission. Eke, a faculty member in CMU’s English department and an expert in the African diaspora and will share her insights about the historical and cultural nature of the event, Murry said.

Members of the Midland Youth Advisory Council, which helped plan that city’s Juneteenth celebration, will also participate in the panel discussion to address youth engagement.

Ultimately, the intention is to create a dialogue across the Great Lakes Bay Region about how people can develop their own Juneteenth celebrations that fit the unique characteristics of their communities.

“We really want to provide the framework for how we can look at Juneteenth in Isabella County,” Murry said.

In addition to the live event, CMU’s Juneteenth celebration will be livestreamed to metro Detroit.

Juneteenth was formally recognized as a federal holiday in June 2021, marking the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was adopted in 1983.

The holiday is named for the day in 1865 when 2,000 Union soldiers arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and announced that the 250,000 slaves in that state were freed under Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
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