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Juneteenth Celebrations Planned In Kalamazoo

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Jacquelyn Martin
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There's a new national holiday. President Joe Biden has signed a law making Juneteenth a nationwide celebration.

June 19th has long been marked by African Americans as the end of slavery at the end of the Civil War. It was the date in 1865 that slaves in Galveston, Texas, finally learned about the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed it. The new holiday will be called Juneteenth National Independence Day and will become the 12th national public holiday.

Black residents of Kalamazoo County have observed the celebration for years, though. And County Commission Vice-Chair Tami Rae says this year is no exception.

"There are lots of events in Kalamazoo County, so I want to encourage folks to look some of those things up and go out and enjoy the events."

Those events include:

Friday, June 18

A 1 p.m. presentation on slavery by Dr. Benjamin Wilson at Western Michigan University, and at 5 p.m. spoken word performance by Leslé Honoré, also at WMU.

Saturday, June 19

A solidarity march is planned at Celery Flats in Portage with opening remarks at 9 a.m. at the grain elevator.

There will be a celebration of Black fathers sponsored by the Merze Tate Explorers at Kalamazoo's Arcadia Creek Festival Site from noon to 6 p.m. along with an art auction.

The Kalamazoo Black Arts and Cultural Center will hold a virtual paint party that begins at 7 p.m.

Musician Branford Marsalis will perform with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners during an open-air concert at 8 p.m.

A celebration called the Statewide Kickoff will be celebrated by several organizations at 804 W. North Street in Kalamazoo at 6 p.m.

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