In Celebration of Juneteenth

Juneteenth Celebrate Freedom

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. In recognition of this important date in our country’s history, Mercy Health stands in solidarity with the Black community and everyone who believes in equal opportunities for all people to prosper.

Since its inception in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, African American Emancipation Day—also known as Juneteenth—has become the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth celebrates freedom and honors the history, heritage and dignity of Black people in America while acknowledging some of the most difficult truths in our nation’s history.

Juneteenth History

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring freedom for millions of enslaved people throughout confederate states, in January 1863.  It took until June 19, 1865, two-and-a-half years later, for the news to reach formerly enslaved people in Texas that they were free.

According to Juneteenth.com, the delay is attributed to the minimal number of Union troops in Texas to enforce the new executive order and stop ongoing resistance. With the surrender of General Robert E. Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of a regiment of Union solders, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Texas declared Juneteenth as an official state holiday in 1980 with other states following, according to www.britannica.com. Today, Juneteenth is honored throughout the country and, this year, many cities and states are officially and formally honoring Juneteenth as a holiday and will be closing government offices and facilities. 

May Juneteenth commemorations be joyful and inspire our nation to work more diligently to right the wrongs of the past and present.

Reflection

God, you have given all peoples one common origin and one exalted dignity in your image and likeness.

In you, there is no division among the human family, and it is your will that all be gathered together as one family united in you.

Fill the hearts of humankind with the fire of your love and with the desire to ensure true equity and justice for all.

Let us see in each member of the human communion, the spark of your divine love which is your gift to all. 

Let us work tirelessly to root out the vestiges of oppression, prejudice, and racism that remain in our hearts and in our country.

And may there be a dawning of a truly human society built on mutual respect, love and peace among all.  Amen.

Mario R. Brunetta, M.Div., J.C.D.
Vice President, Mission Services
Trinity Health

Community Events this Weekend
The offices of Mission Integration and Community Health and Well-Being have compiled a list of community events happening this weekend in Muskegon and Grand Rapids. May Juneteenth commemorations be joyful and inspire our nation to work more diligently to right the wrongs of the past and present.

GRAND RAPIDS

Friday, June 19

Grand Rapids Freedom Festival, 1-7 p.m., Dickinson Buffer Park, 1635 Willard Ave SE. Sponsored by the West Michigan Jewels of Africa and the city of Grand Rapids, this event will feature African drums and dancing. People are also encouraged to bring a notebook and pen. 

Unapologetically Black Cultural Festival4 – 7 p.m., Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 900 Fuller Ave. SE. Hosted by Junteenth GR, this will be a celebration of the Black community. Food, music and art.

Community Drive-by Parade2:30 – 4 p.m., through Southeast Grand Rapids, ending at Martin Luther King Jr. Park. This car parade will go through the Southeast Grand Rapids neighborhoods. Organizers are encouraging participants to decorate their cars and play Beyonce’s “Formation.” 

Power to the People digital celebration. A campaign to celebrate Juneteenth and promote and empower Black businesses, artists and community leaders.

Saturday, June 20


Culture Freedom: A Juneteenth Festival, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 900 Fuller Ave. SE. This free event is hosted by the Grand Rapids African American Community Task Force. It will have food, vendors and drinks.

Garfield Park Juneteenth Celebration, 3 – 7 p.m., Garfield Park Community Gym. Games, food and spoken word.

MUSKEGON

The following events are organized and/or promoted by Black Wallstreet Muskegon. Check website for the most current details.

Friday, June 19

“The Great Reset” – Hackley Park, starts at 2 p.m., Hackley Park, 350 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon

Zumba Takeover, 7 p.m., Heritage Landing, W. Western Ave., Muskegon

Fireworks Showcase at dusk, location TBD

Saturday, June 20Community Juneteenth Celebration, 12:30 – 5 p.m. at Smith Ryerson Center, 650 Wood St., Muskegon. Free t-shirts, food, prizes, games and more. Masks will be provided.

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