A local girl gets her face painted at the 2023 Southfield Juneteenth Jubilee. Face painting will be back at this year’s Juneteenth Jubilee on June 16.

A local girl gets her face painted at the 2023 Southfield Juneteenth Jubilee. Face painting will be back at this year’s Juneteenth Jubilee on June 16.

File photo by Darren Hood

Southfield to host Juneteenth Celebration with over a week of festivities planned

By: Kathryn Pentiuk | Southfield Sun | Published June 7, 2024


SOUTHFIELD — For its third year, Southfield will continue to educate and inspire with its Juneteenth lineup with a week of activities and events starting with the 5 p.m. June 10 Juneteenth Flag Raising and Council Presentation in front of City Hall, 26000 Evergreen Road.

The flag raising will be followed by the reading of the Juneteenth proclamation from the City Council at 6 p.m.

“The Emancipation Proclamation came out in 1863. It did not free all the slaves. The Civil War was still going on. But the Southern plantation owners realized that they were losing the war, and so the war was over, Lincoln was assassinated and the plantation owners kept moving,” Darla Van Hoey, the president of the Southfield Historical Society, said. “Going from one state to another, they kept moving on until they got to Texas. Then the federal government finally said, ‘Well, this is ridiculous.’ So the federal government sent General Granger out to Texas and let everybody know in Texas that the war was over and the slaves were freed.”

Juneteenth marked the freedom of all enslaved people. According to Van Hoey, the holiday is now all about history, culture and community.

She said the Black community knows about the date, “and they didn’t learn about it in school. Nobody learned about it in school. It wasn’t taught in school. But they probably, especially if they were from the South, they learned about it. But white folk like me had no idea what it was. So I really feel that we’re educating everybody else,” she said.

Van Hoey explained that Southfield’s first Juneteenth celebration came to be in 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into effect on June 17, 2021, declaring June 19 a federal holiday. Through the years, it has been the Southfield Historical Society’s mission to educate community members through efforts such as yard signs sharing the history of the holiday, honoring local influential African Americans and drafting educational booklets to inform and inspire.

This year is no different. The Southfield Historical Society invites residents to the barn at the Mary Thompson Farm at 6 p.m. June 18 for “Southfield Historical Society Profiles in Freedom.” Van Hoey will don period dress and depict the persona of Viola Liuzzo, a Detroiter who was the only white woman killed during the Civil Rights movement. Van Hoey shared that Liuzzo joined the NAACP after befriending a Black woman who was a part of the group.

“Then the march from Selma to Montgomery happened, and she said, ‘I’m gonna go down there.’ Well, she was driving some Black men back and forth. And the Klan was following her. There was an FBI agent, unconnected to her, following her car, and the Klan pulled up and shot her and shot the other people in the car, and she died. And she’s buried right here in Holy Sepulchre.”

The profiles will include depictions of Dr. Gladys West, Angela Davis, Sojourner Truth, Malcolm X and more portrayed by members of the Historical Society.

The Juneteenth Jubilee hosted by Southfield Parks and Recreation will be held at 4 p.m. June 16 on the municipal campus front lawn, 26000 Evergreen Road. The Jubilee is a free admission event featuring live music, cultural performances, local cuisine and activities for all ages.

“This is our second Jubilee,” Southfield parks and recreation programmer Cathy Fresia said. “But it’s a great way to start learning about Juneteenth. We’re hoping a lot of our residents are getting educated as to Juneteenth … and the significance of it.”

Fresia said that there will be over 30 Black-owned business artisans and vendors at the Jubilee, and performances by local artists such as Comedian Crystal P., and singer DeLo and saxophonist Mike Elder, who are both Southfield graduates and residents; as well as spoken word artist Lashaun “Phoenix” Kotaran and music by DJ Deezy D.

Recreation on the Move will be there with games for the kids, and face painting will be available before the outdoor concert with Detroit RSVP AllStars begins at 7 p.m.

Fresia added that she was excited about this year’s new addition, “Walk with Your Hero,” which is a pre-event for the Jubilee to coincide with Father’s Day. The walk is led by Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee and serves as a tribute to honor the heroes in our lives, including father figures, mentors and community leaders.

For more information on Juneteenth in Southfield, visit cityofsouthfield.com.

Other Juneteenth events include:
• The Friends of the Southfield Public Library Juneteenth Jazz and Blues Concert – 6:30 p.m. June 12
The Friends of the Southfield Public Library will sponsor a special Juneteenth Jazz and Blues Concert at 6:30 p.m. June 12 at the Southfield Public Library fountain terrace, with a rain location in the meeting room. This free outdoor concert will feature the music of the One Luv Band consisting of four musicians and three soloists who are interactive with the crowd. They will perform Motown classics, Earth Wind and Fire, and other contemporary pieces, including civil rights songs commemorating the Juneteenth celebration.

• Juneteenth Senior Luncheon – 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. June 14
Southfield Parks and Recreation will host a special Juneteenth Senior Luncheon in the Parks and Recreation Building, Room 115, at City Hall 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. June 14. The luncheon includes a hot meal, music, dance and speeches that highlight the significance of Juneteenth. Tickets cost $25 for residents and $30 for nonresidents. Preregistration is required for the luncheon, and walk-ins are not permitted. Tickets can be purchased at cityofsouthfield.com/departments/parks-recreation or by calling (248) 796-4620.

• Mayor’s Juneteenth Walk – 10-11:30 a.m. June 15
Southfield Mayor Ken Siver invites residents to join him for the Mayor’s Juneteenth Walk 10-11:30 a.m. June 15. The walk will begin at the Southfield municipal campus front circle. Siver will lead participants on a 2.5-mile walk around Southfield, where he will discuss Southfield’s history and the achievements of African Americans in Southfield.

• Pearls of Service Foundation Juneteenth Breakfast – 11 a.m. June 22
The Pearls of Service Foundation will sponsor a Juneteenth Breakfast at 11 a.m. June 22 at Tapestry Banquet Hall, 24580 Evergreen Road. The theme for the event is “Our ancestors’ wildest dreams: A celebration of art and scholarship.” Tickets cost $50 and can be purchased at tickettailor.com/events/pearlsofservicefoundation/1207330#.

Juneteenth Open Mic Event – 1-4 p.m. June 22
The Southfield Public Library will host a special Juneteenth Open Mic Event. The community is invited to bring a lawn chair and tune into some of metro Detroit’s best spoken word poets outside on the front lawn. The public will also be invited to present original spoken word done solo, in duets or in trios. Tony Speaks will be the MC host. The event will also feature food, vendors, music and more. Preregistration is required to perform by signing up on the Southfield library website. The deadline to register is June 17. Walk-in performances will be welcome if time permits. Content should be PG-13. To register, visit bit.ly/juneteenth_open_mic.