Madison Heights to hold Juneteenth celebration

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published June 8, 2021

MADISON HEIGHTS — The community is invited to celebrate the end of slavery in the U.S. with a special Juneteenth event in Madison Heights, the first time that the city has done so.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, commemorates June 19, 1865 — nearly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation — when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, proclaiming all enslaved people free.

The Texan slaves were the last to realize their freedom. Juneteenth has been celebrated in Texas since 1866, and is now officially recognized by 47 states, with an effort underway to make it a national holiday.

The Madison Heights Human Relations Equity Commission, or HREC, will hold the city’s first annual Juneteenth celebration from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 19, at Civic Center Park, located behind the Civic Center at the northwest corner of 13 Mile and John R roads.

The ceremony is from noon to 12:30 p.m. at the gazebo in front of Madison Heights City Hall, starting with remarks by Mayor Roslyn Grafstein, followed by a keynote address by Quinn Wright, a reading of General Order No. 3 by Tony Austin, the recital of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and then a Juneteenth flag presentation.  

There will also be live music headlined by the Smoke Jones Detroit Band, plus food trucks, vendor booths, a children’s craft area, a petting zoo, a ribs contest, a mobile vaccination clinic, and an exhibit explaining the history of Juneteenth. It’s all paid for with donations, and social distancing and face masks will be required.

The event is organized by the HREC’s cultural events subcommittee, led by Kevin Wright and Cemone Moy. The HREC is chaired by Quinn Wright. Major sponsors include the Friends of the Madison Heights Public Library and Holistic Industries Inc., as well as a variety of businesses and community groups.

For a full list of sponsors, or to become one yourself, visit madisonheightsjuneteenth.com.

Quinn Wright said he feels pleased to see the event come together.

“The African-American community has celebrated Juneteenth for decades. It’s encouraging to see our friends and neighbors embrace this celebration of freedom, acknowledging the longer path to liberty our forefathers had to face,” Wright said in an email. “We welcome all our neighbors and communities to join us in this unique, fun, free event honoring a significant part of American history that at times is overlooked.”

Moy said she hopes the community will learn from the occasion.

“Like many other American holidays, the goal of Juneteenth is to celebrate freedom. While this is Madison Heights’ first celebration, Juneteenth has been celebrated for over 155 years. So not only will this be a fun, family-friendly event for the whole community, education is at the heart of everything we are planning,” Moy said. “I am especially excited for my children to experience this event in their own city.”

Kevin Wright said he hopes this becomes an annual event in Madison Heights.

“I just learned about Juneteenth last summer. It’s a part of American history I never learned in school,” Wright said. “My hope is people will come to the celebration to listen to some great music, eat some good food, shop a little at the vendor booths, but also visit the educational exhibit and take home an understanding of the struggles African-Americans have faced in our nation, and continue to face today.”