WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Celebrating Juneteenth in Macomb

Jun 21, 2019

After a hiatus of several years, the Juneteenth celebration returned to Macomb.  The festivities included food, music, and a school supply collection drive.  

“Any Juneteenth celebration you go to nationwide will be a totally different experience from another one. Some of them have food festivals. Some of them have music festivals. So each city or organization will set it up differently,” said Tammie Leigh Brown-Edwards, who’s First Vice President of the McDonough County branch of the NAACP and Alderwoman At Large on the Macomb City Council.

“A lot of people don’t know about the holiday but it’s always been a big deal in my family. So I’m hoping that at least it’s something people start recognizing when they see the word and know a little bit about it.”

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.  Byron Oden-Shabazz, President of the McDonough County branch of the NAACP, said Juneteenth is basically black liberation day.

Macomb observed Juneteenth for several years but it fell by the wayside before being revived this year. Events took place at the Macomb Arts Center and the Jerk Shop Go restaurant.

Oden-Shabazz said it was important to bring back the celebration.

“In Macomb, truthfully, there’s very, very little black culture – anything that really represents or celebrates black life. And this was a way for the city to host an event and be inclusive of all people (and) show some of the black experience and some of our culture and history as well,” said Oden-Shabazz.

He said civil rights activist C.T. Vivian and musician Al Sears are among the African-Americans from Macomb whose national contributions should be celebrated. And he said the NAACP hopes to work amicably toward ensuring African-Americans have a greater voice and presence in Macomb today.