Eastpointe is hosting its first ever celebration of Juneteenth on Saturday, June 19. It will coincide with a similar Juneteenth event in nearby Harper Woods happening earlier in the day. This photo is from Harper Woods’ Juneteenth celebration in 2019.

Eastpointe is hosting its first ever celebration of Juneteenth on Saturday, June 19. It will coincide with a similar Juneteenth event in nearby Harper Woods happening earlier in the day. This photo is from Harper Woods’ Juneteenth celebration in 2019.

Photo provided by the city of Harper Woods


Eastpointe to host Juneteenth program

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 9, 2021

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EASTPOINTE — A program celebrating Juneteenth will be hosted in Eastpointe featuring a showing of the film “Black Panther.”

Each year, people across the country celebrate Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Word of the Emancipation Proclamation took time to travel during the Civil War, and slaves in Texas learned June 19, 1865, that they were free. This will be the first time a celebration of Juneteenth has taken place in Eastpointe.

It is being organized by Eastpointe resident Akeyla Bonner.

“This event was created to celebrate the diversity of Eastpointe and to educate people about the history of Juneteenth and to celebrate Black entrepreneurship, artistry and culture,” Bonner explained. “I definitely think that Juneteenth has become more important with the current climate of the world, particularly with issues of police brutality and the legacy of racism toward African Americans. I think it has caused a lot of people to research their history and learn more about the legacy of African Americans. Juneteenth is the actual Independence Day for African Americans. The Fourth of July is more of a day to hang out with family and celebrate, while Juneteenth is more a day of reverence for them.”

The event will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 19, at Fairlane Park in Eastpointe. Fairlane Park is located between Toepfer Drive and Mott Avenue and between Beaconsfield Avenue and Raven Avenue, which is just north of Eight Mile Road. The Juneteenth program will feature speakers sharing information about Juneteenth and its significance, as well as food trucks, and the movie will begin at 7:30 p.m. There is no cost to attend.

It will occur on the final day of Eastpointe’s Cruisin’ Gratiot celebration.

“There will be live music, poets, dancers and speakers. It will be people who want to share their gifts,” remarked Bonner. “I am a little nervous with Cruisin’ Gratiot happening the same day. I’m hoping that it won’t cause (logistical) issues. Maybe it will help it, but this is the first year we’ve done it, so we’ll see.”

Bonner was inspired to host such an event last year as she was starting up her own event planning business, SixThirty Events.

“Last summer, when the pandemic started, I knew I wanted to start an event planning company with a focus on community events,” Bonner said. “I am a Black woman, and I wanted to help the African American community and bring some sort of bonding to my community. I’ve never attended an event like this in this community. I talked with Mayor (Monique) Owens about it, and it took off from there.”

The event was approved unanimously by the Eastpointe City Council at its meeting June 1. It will happen in tandem with another Juneteenth celebration in nearby Harper Woods.

Owens said that this is the first time for a Juneteenth celebration to be held in Eastpointe.

“I was talking to the mayor of Harper Woods, and they are doing a Juneteenth celebration at Wayne County Community College’s (Mary Ellen Stempfle University Center) from 1 to 4 p.m. that afternoon. So we’ve got two cities doing two events right down the street from one another, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. … We’ll have a whole day dedicated to talking about freedom, slavery, togetherness, equality and things like that. I’m very excited for this collaboration.”

The Mary Ellen Stempfle University Center is located at 19305 Vernier Road in Harper Woods.

There will be no cost to the city since Bonner was able to secure a sponsor.

“I have secured a sponsor with Foot Locker. They are covering costs such as stage rental (and) porta potties. It’s in collaboration with the city of Eastpointe, and I am hosting as SixThirty Events,” she said. “It will take place at Fairlane Park behind Koepsell Education Center, which is part of South Lake Schools. … There will be no cost to the city of Eastpointe. … Food trucks are coming, and they will be paid solely through what they make at the event.”

Bonner added that this is an event that is free and available to everyone.

“Although Juneteenth is celebrating African American history, it is open to everyone,” she said. “We hope we can bring everyone together for a fun evening to celebrate Eastpointe as well as Juneteenth.”

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