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Things to Do: Celebrate Juneteenth in the Lansing area

517 Juneteenth Festival
Posted at 2:40 PM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 15:10:41-04

LANSING, Mich. — This week's Things to Do is all about Juneteenth. If you didn't know, it's a federal holiday that celebrates freedom and recognizes the end of slavery in the United States.

Many people across the country will be joining in on the celebration. Here's a quick look at what's going on in the Lansing area.

517 Juneteenth Weekend
You can celebrate 157 years of freedom right here in REO town. The 517 Juneteenth Weekend is back for its second year, and it's going to be bigger than ever.

"We just want to celebrate all the things that we've been able to accomplish as Black people. So whether that's art, whether that's influencing pop culture, whether that's entrepreneurship, we want to put all of that on display," said Program Coordinator Mikeyy Austin.

The 517 Juneteenth Weekend kicked off Thursday night with a comedy jam and will have events going on through Sunday.

You'll be able to enjoy a free ice cream social, get your dance on at the mixer, enjoy a jazz night and unite with the community at the Juneteenth Festival.

"We'll have live performances, over 40 Black-owned vendors, kids zones, all sorts of things for kids and families," Austin said. "When we think about Juneteenth weekend here in REO town, we wanted it to be extremely inclusive. Just because number one, we know that Black culture comes in so many different forms, so many different varieties, and we want to highlight all of those different things, and we want to include all those different things."

Any ticket that you purchase for any of the supporting events goes to grants for Black-owned businesses here in Lansing.

Lansing Juneteenth Celebration
The Lansing Juneteenth Celebration is also underway. They are celebrating 29 years of bringing the community together and educating people on what Juneteeth is all about.

"It's educational, cultural, everything, you know, mixed in and just having a good time," said Kenneth Turner, who is on the subcommittee for the parade. "I feel good about the fact that you know, at least once a year we can come together as a people and celebrate some, and then and there's never no incidents, it's always good."

The festivities kicked off last weekend with a softball game honoring baseball's Negro Leagues.

They will also host other events, including a Capital City Kick-Off Ceremony on Thursday and a Freedom Festival Friday night.

And on Saturday, the Juneteenth African American Parade will be kicking off at J.W. Sexton High School.

During the parade, you'll see cars, floats and some familiar faces.

"It's bringing people together. We like to showcase different things going on in our community will have fraternities, sororities, bands, church groups will have a plethora of different groups coming out and, and celebrating this great event," Parade Chair Calvin Jones said.

The parade route will lead everyone to St. Joseph Park.

"Once we get through the parade, all of the activities at the park will begin," Jones said.

Activities will include pictures with a pony, music acts, a job fair and vendors.

Both sets of organizers have been working together and with others in the surrounding area to educate those in the community and spread awareness.

"To lift up and encourage everyone. Not only are we seeking to have a great event, but we want others to have a great event that are in this as well," Jones said.

Other Juneteenth events

- Juneteenth Celebration at the East Lansing Farmers Market

- Meridian Freedom Fest Honoring Juneteenth

- MSU Juneteenth Celebration

- Jackson Juneteenth celebrations

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