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Good Neighbors: Volunteers who help organize the annual Lansing Juneteenth Celebration

Posted at 4:03 PM, Jun 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-09 16:03:10-04

LANSING, Mich. — For the last year, the Lansing Juneteenth Committee has been planning for this year’s festivities. The Lansing Juneteenth Celebration starts Saturday, June 10, and runs through Saturday, June 17.

Marilyn Rogers, the Lansing Juneteenth Committee chairperson, says the goal is to have fun and educate the community.

 “Our goal of the Lansing Juneteenth Committee and peers is to help educate the community about living together in a more unified manner and to be able to respect one another's past history. As we know, much of Black Americans' history is not in our history books," Rogers said.

Juneteenth is a federal holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States.

Unfortunately, in 1865, many slaves did not immediately learn of their freedom, especially those living in Texas.

Rogers says a founding member of Lansing’s Mask Memorial Church, Gordon Haskins, brought the Juneteenth Celebration to Lansing from his childhood home in Texas.

Church members learned about Juneteenth from a picture Haskin’s showed them of a 1958 picnic celebration in Lake Lansing Park.

“We said to him, ‘What are you doing?' He says, ‘We’re celebrating Juneteenth.' When we said, ‘Oh, is that like the Fourth of July?’ He says, ‘Well, it's a slightly different meaning for people of African American descent because that represents Freedom Day. Where I come from Texas, we celebrated it, and I want our church to celebrate it,'" Rogers said.

And that’s exactly what church members have been doing for the last 30 years.

“This was a piece of history. American history that was left out,” says church member Debra Plummer. "Now, it's getting properly inserted into the history book. And so there it will remain because now the federal government has said, 'Yeah, we accept that this is what has happened.'”

So, for the last three decades, Lansing’s Mask Memorial Church members have been spreading the news about the Juneteenth Celebration.

They started a nonprofit and are planning a community softball game, an essay and scholarship awards program and an African American Parade this year.

Ramon Brunson organized the first Juneteenth 5K run, walk and roll taking place on Saturday, June 16.

“To celebrate the freedom that came along with it and to have fun with people, to laugh with everybody from all walks of life. I think that one of the important things to me is to celebrate as one community,” Brunson said.

Marilyn says Juneteenth is a celebration for everyone and hopes people will learn more about a significant piece of American History.

“I think that people should come out to have an experience they may not have experienced before to see people coming together. Regardless of backgrounds,” she said.

We want to say thank you to the Lansing Juneteenth Celebration Committee. You are this week’s Good Neighbors.

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Bob Hoffman

Bob Hoffman

9:44 PM, Nov 26, 2018

Good Neighbors Host

Bob Hoffman

Good Neighbors
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