10 Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth 2020 Around Metro Detroit

From virtual celebrations to drive-thru barbecues, marches, and film festivals, here’s what’s happening
juneteenth
Détroit is the New Black will host a Juneteenth block party on June 20. // Photograph courtesy of Détroit is the New Black

Despite its lack of recognition as a national holiday over the years, Juneteenth, or “Freedom Day,” has been commemorating the practical end of slavery in the United States since 1866. It was on June 19 of the previous year that the Emancipation Proclamation was read to enslaved black peoples in antebellum Texas, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed it into law.

Locally, Quicken Loans and DTE Energy have recently made Juneteenth a paid holiday, and they’re encouraging their employees to use the day to learn more about black history and volunteering to promote racial equity. And this Juneteenth weekend, events are being held around Detroit — and virtually — to honor our country’s complex history and to work toward a future filled with remembrance, action, and change. Here’s 10 to add to your calendar.

Conversations for the Culture

 Celebrate Juneteenth with the City of Detroit all week long through a series of thought-provoking discussions commemorating black culture. Discuss mental health, business, and education in the black community, examine criminal justice reform, and participate in a live workout session with certified personal trainer Dr. Fitt Britt. The City of Detroit will stream all virtual festivities on Facebook Live, concluding with a live and in-person Juneteenth Freedom Rally at Spirit Plaza on Friday. June 15-19. No Cost. Spirit Plaza, 2 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-224-4950; detroitmi.gov

Juneteenth Black Author Virtual Book Fair

 Independent Southfield bookstore Detroit Book City will host a three-day virtual book fair in honor of Juneteenth. The event, which can be streamed via YouTube or Facebook Live, will feature black authors from Detroit and beyond. Speakers will include Phoenix Q. Brown, Dr. Regina Jennings, Craig Wilson, and, Kim Batchelor Davis. Can’t make it? That doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the celebration. Head to Detroit Book City’s website to pick up a Juneteenth remembrance T-shirt for $18. June 19-21. No Cost. 248-993-3844; detroitbookcity.com

 Know Your Rights! Virtual Teach-In

Black Lives Matter has inspired people around the world to rise up and demand an end to police brutality. For this virtual event, lead organizers Curtis Renee and John Sloan III of the global organization’s Detroit’s chapter is partnering with the Detroit Justice Center, a local legal service, to discuss how to protect oneself when fighting for justice. Understand what rights you have and how to navigate the legal system when participating in marches, rallies, and protests. The Justice Center’s lawyers will educate activists on legal protections and be available to answer questions. June 19. No cost. blmdetroit.com

Juneteenth: Vegan Soul BBQ Pop-up

Chantele Jones, owner of Detroit plant-based cooking company VDaLish, is taking tradition and making it vegan this Juneteenth. All meals are $15 and include a choice of a main dish, two sides, and cornbread. Mains include: BBQ Meatballs, Jackfruit Sliderz w Slaw, and Chickpea Toona Sandwich. Sides include: Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, Candied Yams, Greens, and Baked Beans. Desserts are also available for $5, including Banana Puddin’, Lemon Pound Cake, and Turtle Brownies. A percentage of all sales will be donated to New Era Detroit, an organization formed to restore black unity. June 19. Curbside pick-up only. Payment by card only. Brightmoor Artisans Collective, 22735 Fenkell St., Detroit; 586-646-8186; vdalish.com

Juneteenth Jubilee Live

Last year, hundreds gathered at The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to celebrate Juneteenth. While the museum halls will remain empty this year, the festivities will endure. Detroit artists, activists, and leaders will come together virtually, on Friday, to commemorate the historic holiday. The event will feature performing artists Arrie Lane, Natalie Tolbert, One Single Rose, and Squeeze as well as a live band and DJ. Councilwoman Janee’ Ayers will speak along with Darvell Powell, the director and president of Black Young Professionals in Metro Detroit. Virtual programming can be streamed live via the Juneteenth Jubilee Detroit Facebook and Instagram pages. June 19. No cost. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; 419-836-0771; thewright.org

 Juneteenth BLM March

 The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired protests and marches around the world to demand justice following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmed Arbery as well as many others. This independent community-organized march will begin at the Fox Theatre and end at Hart Plaza in Detroit. Voter registration and census information will be presented by the Detroit branch of the NAACP and the Detroit City Clerk’s office. Organizers are also encouraging participants to support black-owned, downtown businesses following the march. June 20. No cost. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; facebook.com

Cosplayers for Juneteenth Celebration, hosted by Cosblerd Nation

Join Cosblerd Nation at Mt. Elliott Park in Detroit to celebrate Juneteenth through cosplaying. Guests are encouraged to dress as their favorite characters of color in anime, manga, and comic books. Black pride memorabilia is also encouraged. Open discussions on freedom, history, black business, and protesting is encouraged between participants. June 19. No Cost. Mt. Elliott Park;110 Mt. Elliott St., Detroit; facebook.com

Juneteenth Belle Isle Kickback

 Looking for something laid back? Join community organizers Torie J Anderson and Flip Lloyd at Belle Isle to celebrate Juneteenth with food, music, friends, and family. It’s a B.Y.O.E (Bring Your Own Everything) event, so come prepared to rejoice together while taking in the Detroit skyline. Limited “frozen henny pops” will be available for guests. June 19. No Cost. Belle Isle Beach, 2 Ineselruhe Ave., Detroit; facebook.com

Juneteenth Film Festival

Emagine Entertainment in Royal Oak is hosting a week-long film festival to benefit the United Negro College Fund, also referred to as the United Fund. Through awarding scholarships and providing financial support at 37 historically black colleges and universities, the United Fund helps to ensure all black American students have equal access to a college education. Films featured will honor black actors, writers, directors, and filmmakers with compelling stories that explore racism and black history. Showings will include: Do The Right Thing, If Beale Street Could Talk, I Am Not Your Negro, and The Color Purple. June 19-26. $10. Emagine, 200 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-414-1000;  emagine-entertainment.com

Juneteenth The Block Party

Gather at Détroit is the New Black for a Juneteenth block party this Saturday. A black business crawl will be held from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and a movie will screen from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.  A full lineup of performers, DJs, vendors, and live painters will be released on June 16. Social distancing must be observed, and free masks will be provided. June 20.  Détroit is the New Black, 1430 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-818-3498; detroitisthenewblack.com

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