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Traverse City Juneteenth celebration features freedom, diversity

Jan-Michael Stump
Record-Eagle File Photo

Tomorrow is Juneteenth, a holiday to celebrate the civil war coming to a close and the true end of legalized slavery in the U.S.

Juneteenth has been celebrated in Michigan since 2005, and as a federal holiday since 2021.

Locally, celebrations started this weekend, but continue tonight. Northwestern Michigan College will have its 5th annual celebration from 5-8 p.m. June 19 in front of Founder’s Hall, in partnership with E3.

Holly T. Bird, a founding council member of E3, said she celebrates the holiday by lifting up her Black relatives.

“We live in a community that’s becoming more diverse every day,” Bird said. “Celebrating that diversity is not only good for our economy, but for the people in the community.”

The Emancipation Proclamation was read in January of 1863, but news hadn’t traveled to Texas until June 19, 1865. The proclamation was read aloud on what is now called Juneteenth by Union General Gordon Granger in Galveston Texas.

“Juneteenth is really the day that the enforcement of the end of slavery finally took hold in all 50 states,” Bird said.

Lauren Rice is a newsroom intern for WCMU based at the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
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