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Juneteenth & Walk for Racial Justice

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Since 1994, the NAACP has hosted a Juneteenth event at Wheeler Park. Wheeler Park is historic because it is named for Ann Arbor’s first and only African American Mayor, Albert H. Wheeler.  Sadly, he passed away shortly before the first Juneteenth Celebration observed in Ann Arbor in 1994. Juneteenth traditions in Ann Arbor include public readings, singing of traditional songs, historical re-enactments, cake walks, performances by youth and adults, several different food choices, vendors and something for every member of your family. (From

A recording of the entire 2020 virtual Juneteenth celebration hosted by the Ann Arbor Branch of the NAACP and Protectors of Equality in Government (PEG), can be found here. Below is a quick highlight of the event.


What is Juneteenth?

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared all enslaved people in the Confederate States legally free. Enslaved African Americans in Union-held states were not covered under Lincoln’s proclamation and were not officially freed until the establishment of the Thirteenth Amendment, which formally abolished slavery nationwide on Dec. 5, 1865.

Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched onto plantations and across cities in the south reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation spreading the news of freedom. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, black people were enslaved for two more years. The news finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as "Juneteenth," by people in Texas.

Juneteenth marks America’s second Independence Day. Unlike the Fourth of July it is not recognized as a federal holiday. But Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday in all but 4 states: Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. (From

For more information contact:

The African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County

Email: [email protected], Leave a message at 734-761-1717

Text or call: 734-680-2128

Mail: PO Box 130724, Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Summary of Walk for Racial Justice

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This event was in partnership with the Ann Arbor Branch of the NAACP and Protectors of Equality in Government (PEG).  The purpose and goal of the event was to raise awareness and engage with our community to dialogue and identify action steps to improve racial justice and equity issues. 

The event welcomed the community to join in a walk for racial justice starting at Fuller Park. The walk to Wheeler Park was just over a mile long taking walkers through Riverside Park and across the Broadway bridge. Throughout the walk, there were various 'stations' that encouraged reflection, celebrated Black lives, honored lost Black lives, shared local Black history or provided education and action steps to get engaged.

475 walkers visited Wheeler Park at some point between 9am and 12pm on Saturday. Wheeler Park was the half way point and did not have a program due to COVID and logistical concerns. Also note that the 475 participants were not gathering at any point during the walk- it was a continuous stream of movement throughout the parks. Everyone wore a mask and practiced social distancing guidelines.

There was a community engagement activity in which 4 questions were asked and community members could respond. Notes on the documents: if there is a (x#) ie. (x2) before a response, it  indicates that another participant had circled, underlined, checked, or provided affirmation to another participant's response. These responses were typed as written with no alterations and organized by common themes.

How do you feel today? Responses


What is the vison for the community you want to live in? Responses

What is one change you would make immediately to enhance equity in our community? Responses

What can the City do to promote racial equity? Responses

20200620_120709.jpgThere are many different feelings people are experiencing. There are specific ideas and a spectrum of actions expressed for individuals or leaders to take. Overall, there is desire for change.

What is next…

  • Continue to engage with community and offer opportunities to dialogue or act to improve racial justice issues.
  • Develop action steps
  • Support and partner with existing organizations who are working on racial inequity issues

City of Ann Arbor staff within the Office of Sustainability & Innovations the Parks & Recreation Unit are committed to working toward racial justice initiatives and support changes and actions that improve our community and world!

Continuing Education and Resources

Read more about African American History in Ann Arbor

This includes interesting information on the Underground Railroad, Signal of Liberty (anti-slavery newspaper), Union Church, Katherine Crawford, and Albert and Emma Wheeler.

Start Small

Read and participate in Oren Jay Sofer's piece on 10 Things White People Can Do to Work for Racial Justice. Also included is a list of anti-racism resources for you to read, watch, listen to, organizations to get involved with, and places to donate.

Challenge Yourself

In 2017, Corinne Schutack compiled a list of 97 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice. Start with one, do a couple, or challenge yourself to complete the list.

Get Involved with a Board or Commission

Vacancies can be found here. With over 50 Boards and Commissions, there are plenty of ways to get involved.

Contact your Legislators

From the Area Agency on Aging 1-B, here is a helpful guide to contact your representatives and legislators along with direct contact information. To find your represenatives with your home address use this search tool:

Connect with the Black Lives Matter Movement

Michigan Chapter:
Facebook –
Instagram –
Twitter –

​Ann Arbor Branch of NAACP:

Protectors of Equality in Government: [email protected]

Office of Sustainability and Innovations: [email protected]

GIVE365: [email protected]