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Flint celebrates Juneteenth as a federal holiday

The city of Flint will spend the entire weekend commemorating Juneteenth.
The city of Flint will spend the entire weekend commemorating Juneteenth.(WJRT)
Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 6:33 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) -(06/18/21)- “I think it’s long overdue. It should have happened years and years ago. But it’s an acknowledgement that we are moving forward” said Historian James Wardlow.

As President of the St John Street Historical Committee-- James Wardlow knows a thing or two about Black history. Now that Juneteenth is officially a federal holiday, Wardlow says it’s an opportunity to educate people on what took place June 19th 1865 - when word that slaves were free finally reached Texas.

“You’re a lot younger than I am and we weren’t taught it in school either. So it’s an awakening. So we’re trying to get the word out to our young people and our heritage,” Wardlow said.

Juneteenth has a long history in Flint - it’s been celebrated here for nearly half a century.

“I’m just so happy and grateful that they recognize really the importance and contributions that African Americans have made to this great country,” said Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley.

Flint became the first city in the state to observe Juneteenth as a holiday.

All weekend long, celebrations will take place in the Vehicle City to mark the now federal holiday.

“Starting today with Black Wall Street here at Berston. Tomorrow we will have the parade from City Hall to Berston. We will have our very own Claressa Shields. Who is MMA World Champion Boxer will be leading it and so many other people from the Detroit Pistons drumline to you name it, they’ll be a part of it. And again so many moving pieces but we are so excited to celebrate,” said Pastor Jeff Hawkins.

In addition to the city’s celebrations--the Traditional Flint Juneteenth will also be hosting events-- kicking off 5 decades of celebrations starting today at the Sloan Museum, Longway Planetarium with bounce houses, vendors and educational tools. A reminder of why we celebrate.

“Our youngsters don’t know a lot about this day, so from this day forward and the signing of that bill by the President, I think we’re on our way,” said Wardlow.

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