Grand Rapids community cooks out BBQ style to celebrate Juneteenth

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The hot summer sun shone down on John Ball Park and laughter and cheers filled the air.

Families and friends went from tent to tent, listening to the drumming and singing of the Kuungana Drum and Dancing Company during the SpringGR and Huntington Juneteenth Fest organized by SpringGR on June 18, 2022.

With over 85 vendors, visitors could spend hours looking through handmade jewelry, clothing for all ages and sizes and even beauty products all from locally owned businesses. After all the shopping, families could grab a bite of BBQ, seafood or sweets form one of the 12 food vendors and take a seat to mingle with one another while listening to the tunes of DJ Composition or the exciting history of the African dance and music performed by Kuungana Drum and Dancing Company.

“I think the holiday gets overshadowed,” SpringGR vendor coordinator Asiah Devlin said. “Not a lot of people are on the history of it and that’s absolutely OK. That’s why we come together as a community to simply teach what Juneteenth is.”

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger announced emancipation for Texas slaves two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which freed all enslaved people within the Confederacy. This is the second year Juneteenth has been recognized as a federal holiday after President Joe Biden signed legislation establishing it in 2021.

Early celebrations of the holiday included family gatherings and prayer, and have continued to grow in size to now fill parks with patrons and bring communities together.

So on MLive:

Parade, festivals, pop-up shops planned for Juneteenth celebrations in Grand Rapids area

Muskegon County celebrating Juneteenth with fireworks, music, educational events

Saginaw’s first Miss Juneteenth crowned to represent community

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