DETROIT – “It is extremely difficult to be Black in America. What we’ve been trying to do this week is to celebrate what it means to be Black,” said Charity Dean, of Detroit’s Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity Department.
From right in the middle of Woodward Avenue, Dean explained how the city is celebrating Juneteenth all week long.
“Juneteenth is a celebration of when the last enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, found out that they were actually free," Dean said. “Once they heard the news, it started a Juneteenth jubilee.”
A stretch of Woodward Avenue is where that jubilee will be held this week, leading up to Juneteenth on June 19.
Monday began with a kickoff conversation, Tuesday with a focus on fitness and wellness, Wednesday with a discussion about Black education and wealth and Thursday with criminal justice reform.
“Then we’re going to end the week with a celebration here in Spirit Plaza -- a Juneteenth rally,” Dean said.
Part of the weeklong Juneteenth celebration will include an art installation on the west side of Woodward Avenue downtown between Larned and Congress streets. The street is going to be blocked off until Monday to allow people to walk by and see the art up close and personal.
“We had some folks that reached out really wanting to paint a message of strength and resilience on Woodward Avenue,” Dean said. "We put a call out for local artists who are going work with some (Detroit Public Schools Community District) students to help paint a message of strength and resilience.”
It’s a message that’s needed now in our country.
“Everyone is invited,” Dean said. “Martin Luther King said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’ and so Juneteenth is really for everyone. When we are free, when Black people are free, everyone is free.”