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Earlene McMichael / WMUK

Note: In commemoration of Juneteenth, we're reposting our story about this annual June 19th tradition. It first published and aired on June 17, 2016.

Every year, we celebrate our independence from Great Britain on the Fourth of July. But did you know that, in most states, there’s another independence day that some people also celebrate? It’s called Juneteenth, a 150-year-old African-American tradition that’s very much alive in Kalamazoo. But if Juneteenth has been around for 150 years, why haven’t more people heard of it?


Earlene McMichael | WMUK

When it was time for Kalamazoo College senior Kaylah "Kami" Simmons to choose a capstone project to do this year, she thought of a famous man she met in high school -- Hal Jackson. He's an African-American who broke the color barrier in radio in the '30s and is in several Halls of Fame. She didn't know his significance back then. Now a theater arts major with a media studies concentration who's contemplating a journalism career, Simmons wants more people to know about Jackson and this Saturday presents a reader's theater play inspired by his life. He died in 2012 at 96.