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Lansing mayor cancels Juneteenth activities, committee to air special tribute

June 19, 2020
<p>The East Lansing clock tower on Aug. 23, 2019 in East Lansing.  </p>

The East Lansing clock tower on Aug. 23, 2019 in East Lansing.

Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

The Lansing Juneteenth Committee has prepared a special tribute in place to honor the 27th year of the Juneteenth Celebration.

Local television, radio stations and social media platforms will air a public service announcement (PSA) June 19th created by Mayor Andy Schor and the committee that recognizes the city's rich history and promotes intercultural interaction through education embraced by two local projects.

The first project is led by artist Julian Van Dyke, who created the Lansing Juneteenth Committee logo and coloring/activity storybook.

This year's re-release, "Juneteenth: Celebrating Freedom," which was originally published in 2004, will be captured in a window display exhibit at the Capital Area District Library (CADL) downtown beginning on Monday, June 15.

The second project is the essay/scholarship program, which was put in place as encouragement for young people to learn, research and write.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, Schor canceled the annual ceremonial kick-off program, parade, softball game and outdoor music festival.

This year's contest was modified due to interruption and will now be supporting graduating seniors who were allowed to submit entries. All of Lansing's regional area schools and homeschooled students are welcome to attend the Juneteenth essay writing workshops to prepare for their award-winning presentations and compete for college scholarships.

Recent Lansing police brutality protests have called for Schor's resignation if he fails to honor protesters demands, which include implementing police de-escalation and implicit bias training using the city's public services fund and police fund.

Juneteenth is recognized in 48 states across the nation and around the world. It began in 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed by former President Abraham Lincoln, when enslaved people in Texas received word from federal troops that the Civil War was officially over.

Now, Juneteenth is a time to celebrate how far the country has come while simultaneously assessing how far it still has to go. It allows for reflection and a commitment to ensure a better future.

It is the second Independence Day in America, as well as the oldest African American holiday in observance. Schor declared June 19 as "Juneteenth Day" in Lansing and the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation is advocating for it to be a National Day of Observance.

The Michigan Legislative Black Caucus (MLBC) announced in a press release they are proud to join in the celebration and praise God for the ancestors, pioneers, innovators and contemporaries that have impacted the global culture while facing unprecedented odds.

"It took two and a half years for the message of emancipation to spread across the confederacy, and Juneteenth marks that moment in time," Sen. Marshall Bullock II, MLBC chairman, said in the press release. "It is a timely reminder given our current issues of racial injustice that even when laws are enacted to protect the disenfranchised, we must remain vigilant to ensure their enforcement and seek additional ways to move out society towards equal justice and opportunity."

Editor's note: the original statement from Bullock II used "towards" instead of "toward."

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