CADILLAC — Community members gathered Saturday in Cadillac to celebrate the day that slavery effectively ended in the United States.

Those who gathered at the Rotary Performing Arts Pavilion were there in observance of Juneteenth, which is the holiday marked to recognize June 19, 1865 — the day the last slaves held in Galveston, Texas were told they were free, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

If you learned about the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation in school but don’t remember hearing about Juneteenth, you’re not alone.

Event organizer Alex Marshall, 24, says he didn’t learn about the holiday centered on Black Americans’ experiences from school, either. It was his sister who told him about it.

Marshall, who is black, also took over the organizing of the peaceful protest earlier this month in Cadillac that focused on police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

“The actual idea for the event is to bring awareness,‘ Marshall previously told the Cadillac News.

The idea for the event came about only recently, and so Marshall held the Juneteenth Celebration on June 27 at noon in Cadillac Rotary Performing Arts Pavilion and the nearby fountain (that’s instead of the traditional date of June 19).

In addition to some brief speeches by a handful of attendees, the event also featured inflatables for kids, along with ring toss and cornhole setups.

While turnout for the event Saturday wasn’t as large as it was for the peaceful protest, where hundreds of people (including a number of counter-protesters) attended, those who were there felt strongly about Juneteenth and the cause of racial equality.

“It means a lot to have this,‘ said Jennifer Connell, who is a mother to four biracial children. “There is a lot of racism around. If people are aware of it through things like this (the Juneteenth celebration) hopefully they will be nicer to each other.‘

Cadillac News