Juneteenth National Freedom Day (3rd Saturday of June in Michigan)

June 19, 2018 all-day

In June, 2005, Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm signed legislation officially designating the third Saturday in June as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Michigan. Senate Bill 384 (PA 48) was sponsored by Senator Martha G. Scott. Michigan was the 18th state to officially recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday.

​“I am honored to officially declare Juneteenth National Freedom Day,” said Governor Granholm.  “Juneteenth is a celebration of African American history and culture,” said Senator Scott who sponsored the legislation. “It is important that we promote understanding, freedom and a strong sense of community.”

​Pictured are:  Rep. Michael Murphy (deceased), Rev. A. Richard Doss and Marilyn Plummer with Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm at the ceremonial signing of the Juneteenth legislation, July 21, 2005.  The Governor was presented with copies of the Juneteenth Activity Book and Souvenir Book.

So although Juneteenth Day nationally is celebrated on June 19th, it can vary in Michigan since it now falls on the 3rd Saturday of the month.  Lansing, in fact, will be celebrating it from June 14-16 in 2018.

MCL 435.361 :

The legislature recognizes that slavery existed in this country for more than 200 years.  Millions of African-Americans were brought to this country as slaves stacked in the bottom of slave ships in a 5- to 12-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean known as the “middle passage”.  Although approximately 11- 1/2 million African-Americans survived the voyage across the ocean, the number of those who died in the inhuman conditions of the passage is probably even higher.  Once in this country, the captives were subjected to whipping, castration, branding, and rape.  The legislature further observes that congress passed the thirteenth amendment to the United States constitution on January 31, 1865, abolishing slavery throughout the United States and its territories.  In the following months, spontaneous celebrations erupted throughout the country whenever African-Americans learned of their freedom.  News of the amendment reached the states at different times, and it was not until June 19, 1865 that the message of freedom reached the slaves in the western states.  In honor of this great moment in the history of our nation, the legislature declares that the third Saturday in June of each year shall be known as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day”.  The legislature encourages individuals, educational institutions, and social, community, religious, labor, and business organizations to pause on Juneteenth National Freedom Day and reflect upon the strong survival instinct of the African-American slaves and the excitement and great joy with which African-Americans first celebrated the abolition of slavery.  It is a reminder to all Americans of the status and importance of Americans of African descent as American citizens.

What is Juneteenth Day and Why Do We Celebrate?

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

In the confusion and turmoil as the Civil war drew to a close, many blacks did not immediately learn of General Robert E. Lee’s April, 1865 surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia.  In fact, Texans fought on through May, when they finally learned that the war had truly ended.

When Union Army General Gordon Granger landed at the Texas Port City of Galveston to take command of the military district of Texas, one of his first actions after landing in June, 1865, was to read General Order #3 to the people of Galveston.

General Granger read, “The people of Texas are informed…all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves…”

Thus, June 19th (Juneteenth) – became the emancipation date of those long suffering for freedom, the newly freed slaves of Texas.

While not an official national holiday, Juneteenth is now a state holiday or a day of observance in most states and the District of Columbia, with only Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, and the Dakotas holding out. For those that do celebrate, parades will take place around the country, including in New York, Texas, and Philadelphia, and communities across the country will host a variety of activities including prayer services, inspirational speeches, reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, stories from former slaves, barbecues, picnics, games, rodeos, dances and festivals to celebrate the historic event.

The celebration of Juneteenth is a multi-cultural recognition of the triumph of the human spirit over the cruelty of slavery.  For African-Americans, it is a tribute to the strength, endurance and faith of their ancestors.  For all of America it is a reminder that none of us is free until all of us are free!

For the full article, see “Lansing Juneteenth Celebration”

Lansing Juneteenth Celebration on Facebook.

Jake May, “Juneteenth parade, celebration bring Flint community together“, MLive, June 20, 2018.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. What Is Juneteenth?  Originally posted on The Root

Melissa Locker, “6 things to know about Juneteenth and why it matters more than ever“, Fast Company, June 19, 2018.

Detroit’s Quicken Loans makes Juneteenth a paid holiday for 30,000 workers“, Detroit News, June 13, 2020.

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