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?

The photo shows six people participating in a video chat
Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

A group of African-American leaders in Kalamazoo is calling for peaceful protests against systemic racism and police brutality. But on Facebook Live today, pastors, nonprofit directors and an elected official condemned the burning and ransacking of businesses that has occurred in cities around the country during some protests of the death of George Floyd. They said it must not happen in Kalamazoo.

TRHT/Kalamazoo Community Foundation

A group fighting racism in Kalamazoo is moving online because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

A speaker coming to Western Michigan University says the country has a problem with “colorblind” racism. Meghan Burke defines that as, "Ways of talking and thinking about race that affirm our belief in individualism and (often imagined) cultural differences, without recognizing the many remaining barriers to equality."

Valerie Barry / iStock Photo

A program fighting systemic racism in Kalamazoo now has a million-dollar endowment. The Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation project is working in several areas. Kalamazoo Community Foundation CEO Carrie Pickett-Erway says they include discrimination in housing.