© 2024 WEMU
Serving Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, MI
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

#OTGYpsi: Ypsilanti's Juneteenth celebration has grown and will feature family-friendly activities for the whole community


Concentrate Ann Arbor

Rylee Barnsdale's Feature Article: Ypsi's Juneteenth weekend to feature "educational celebration," live music, and kids' activities

Ypsilanti Juneteenth Celebration Weekend 2024

Survivors Speak

National Pan-Hellenic Council of Ann Arbor

Michigan Chapter of the Sickle Cell Disease Association

Our Community Reads

Black Men Read


Rylee Barnsdale: You're listening to 89 one WEMU. I'm Rylee Barnsdale, and this is On the Ground Ypsi, Ypsilanti's Juneteenth celebration is back this weekend from June 21st to June 23rd and promises to bring folks a wealth of entertainment and education. Folks can look forward to live music and food trucks but also community building and opportunities to meet with a number of resources and organizations throughout the weekend. In attendance this year will be representatives from the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Ann Arbor, the Michigan Chapter of the Sickle Cell Disease Association, as well as local nonprofits, Our Community Reads and Black Men Read, to provide a weekend that is fun and meaningful all at the same time. Lead organizer for Juneteenth Trische' Duckworth is here with me today to give us a sneak peek into the celebration ahead. Hi, Trische'! How are you doing?

Trische' Duckworth: Hi, Rylee! I am great! How are you today?

Rylee Barnsdale: You know, I am not too bad! And I'm so happy to have you here today to chat! And I just want to start with this is a packed schedule. There is a lot going on this weekend. Can you give us a brief rundown of what folks can expect when they come out to downtown to celebrate?

Trische' Duckworth: Sure. So, Friday night, we are so excited to have Divine Nine out with the community and doing a mixer. And it's going to be sponsored by the National Panhellenic Council of Ann Arbor. So, we are so excited about that. And then, Saturday, oh my gosh! Now, I'm really excited about Saturday because at 9 AM, it starts with a sickle cell disease awareness walk. And this is brought to us by University Bank and the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Michigan. The walk's going to start somewhere around 10:30 or 1045, and then they'll meet us at the main stage at 12 PM. The regular festivities for the festival is 11:00 AM. We're going to have hustle lessons. And then, 12 PM, we are going right into programming. We're going to have the co-sponsors open up with a welcome. We're going to have...The Secretary of state actually is coming. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will be there. And Congresswoman Debbie Dingell are going to take the stage and have words in the beginning. And then, we will start the day with the Black Joy Kids Takeover. So, they're going to take the stage and dance and spoken word, and they'll be their own emcees for that hour from 1230-2. And then, we start with the band. So, we're excited about Saturday and especially excited about Dwele being the headliner. And that's going to come about probably about 7:15 at night. Sunday is the traditional day of our annual church service at 1 PM. We're going to laugh at out with Gospel and Giggles at 2:30. We've got Big Dooley that is going to be the host. And everybody knows Koko, the comedian from Detroit. Everybody knows her nationally. So, we're excited to have her. And then, we're going to have the gospel extravaganza at 4 PM--choirs and groups and just people that are celebrating gospel music. And we are especially excited about that piece.

Rylee Barnsdale: And this is not your first time organizing this event. Do I have that right?

Trische' Duckworth: Yes. This is our fourth annual. I can't even believe I'm saying that. It is our fourth annual Juneteenth celebration in Ypsilanti!

Rylee Barnsdale: Can you tell me a little bit about what's changed from year to year?

Trische' Duckworth: Yeah. You know, it's bringing in more community groups. We've added some additional sponsors. Having the huge headliner that we have is like major, like, for me, because I am a huge fan of Dwele. So, I've never imagined that this is where we would be right now. It would not be happening without the sponsors and the vendors. Both together, we have raised close to $50,000 for this weekend. And so, we are just grateful!

Rylee Barnsdale: You just went through this massive schedule for the weekend. Is this sort of what you have envisioned the Juneteenth celebration to look like?

Trische' Duckworth: You know what? The first year we started, just because the mural. We had painted the mural, and we wanted to have an unveiling and a celebration for that. And it just so happened to fall on Juneteenth. And they had just made Juneteenth a national holiday in Ypsi. So, it was a no-brainer. Like, we need to do this. And then from there, the vision just grew. We wanted to have that Friday night. We wanted to have that Sunday night. So, we just gave it our best. And it wasn't a hit on the Sunday, right? But it's continuing to grow, and that's the whole thing about it. A lot of people say you should drop Sunday, but this is a package deal. It's a package celebration. You can't celebrate Juneteenth and the freedom movement and slavery and not talk about the deep roots of gospel and how a lot of people lean towards that to really help get them through.

Rylee Barnsdale: This is WEMU's On the Ground Ypsi. I'm Rylee Barnsdale, talking with Ypsi Juneteenth event organizer Trische' Duckworth. If we can dive into some of those new events that you mentioned, one thing that you mentioned was the Black Joy Youth Takeover happening on Saturday the 22nd. How does this youth programming look different from last year?

Trische' Duckworth: I am extremely excited about this part because, traditionally, we've had the Kids' Corner. And it was on Black Lives Matter Boulevard, which is South Washington. And the kids and the vendors--not the vendors, but the organizations--kind of felt out of the mix of the day. And so, we wanted to bring them in closer. So, we said, "Hey, we'll bring them in closer off of the boulevard. Let the youth take the main stage just to do something different!" And so, onto the youth, we have to allow them to do things, so that they'll be able to take over in our space. I don't want to be that leader that's trying to hold on to this position forever, right? We need to be grooming our youth, so that they can take our place and do the things that we wanted to do and add to it in their own way.

Rylee Barnsdale: And also, on the 22nd, as you mentioned, is going to be the Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Walk that morning. Why bring the conversation around sickle cell disease into the Juneteenth celebration this year?

Trische' Duckworth: So, it just happened to come in this year, but we were trying to make this connection for the last two years. When it comes to sickle cell disease and lupus and some of the other diseases, they are kind of taboo, but they permeate within the Black community. And so, we wanted to highlight these health diseases and some things that people could do and offer resources. So, Yolanda Portis from Brand Heart brought University Bank and Sickle Cell Disease Association to the table to propose this walk. And it was just like a no-brainer. I'm like, "Duh! Yes!" Because we've been wanting this because it is so important. It's important to me because I have an extended family member that has sickle cell disease. And it's not talked about, just like lupus. And so, we want to make sure that that voice is heard.

Rylee Barnsdale: And one more thing I that I know isn't necessarily new to Juneteenth is there being a table for folks to receive voting education, be able to register to vote if they aren't already. But one thing that is new is, what I've seen called, a "candidates' corner." Can you tell me a little bit about what that looks like?

Trische' Duckworth: Yeah. So, we wanted to be able to have a place where candidates can really mingle with the community, get the community to get to know them, give the community literature about them. We wanted to have it all in one space. And generally, when you think about candidates, they come in, they tell you what they're going to do and then, they leave. And it's like, "No, we want them to be able to bond with the community and really be able to feel the heart of the community and the community to feel their heart." So, we're excited about that because we think it's important, and we just don't want to hear your rants about what you're going to do for us while you're speaking on stage. We want to feel your hearts and conversations heart-to-heart. And so, we think that's important. And what I didn't say as well is that the Secretary of State is also bringing their mobile unit.

Rylee Barnsdale: Oh, wow!

Trische' Duckworth: Yes! So, that is in addition to the candidates' corner and all of the voting elements that we're going to have there as well.

Rylee Barnsdale: This is WEMU's On the Ground Ypsi. I'm talking with Trische' Duckworth, lead organizer for Ypsi's annual Juneteenth celebration. Juneteenth--today, June 19th--commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. It's celebrated all over the country. What sets Ypsi's celebration apart and really makes it so special?

Trische' Duckworth: You know, and I don't know if a lot of people know this, but Ypsilanti was one of the last stops for Harriet Tubman, on their way further north--some going to Canada and some going other places. And so, I don't think that people really understand that sometimes, and some do. But we understand the deep legacy of the freedom movement, of slaves being freed, and the sacrifice of Harriet Tubman and others. Frederick Douglass has been in Ypsilanti. So, it's a rich history! And we want to share that, and we want to celebrate where we've been, but we also want to celebrate the work ahead, because that's important, too.

Rylee Barnsdale: And speaking of the work ahead, we mentioned how much has gone into this year's celebration. What about next year? Do you see it growing even more? What can we maybe expect, come June next year?

Trische' Duckworth: Yeah. Actually, next year, we're moving.

Rylee Barnsdale: Oh, okay.

Trische' Duckworth: So, we will be on the corner of Hamilton and Michigan, and we are going to close the streets down next year around that spot. And so, we are just looking to grow the celebration. And we are looking to have bigger headlining artists that we're in contact with now. So, we are excited about the possibility of the growth.

Rylee Barnsdale: And I'll wrap up our conversation here just by asking you if there's someone out there listening who has heard about all of this excitement going on this weekend and wants to attend Ypsi's Juneteenth for the first time, what would you like to say to them to maybe get them excited--even more excited--to come on out?

Trische' Duckworth: [Wow! I would say if you're looking for a good time, if you're looking for great food, if you're looking for a place that is family-oriented and a great community celebration, and it'd be heart-to-heart with your brothers and sisters, come on down! Because this is a place not about just Black folks. It's not about any ethnic or origin, right? It's about all of us coming together as brothers and sisters to celebrate this national holiday. So, we would love to have you all there!

Rylee Barnsdale: Trische', thank you so much for coming in! I'm sure that you and the rest of the Juneteenth organizers are pretty eager to see how all of this comes together!

Trische' Duckworth: Yes, we are! We are so excited! Thank you so much!

Rylee Barnsdale: For more information on today's topic and links to the full article, visit our website at wemu.org. On the Ground Ypsi is brought to you in partnership with Concentrate Media. I'm Rylee Barnsdale, and this is your community NPR station, 89 one WEMU FM, Ypsilanti.

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

Concentrate Media's Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.
Related Content
  • Whether you know it or not, many believe Ypsilanti is a hotbed for hauntings and supernatural experiences. Exploring the stories and haunted places is the focus of a new book called, "Ypsilanti Ghosts and Legends. Kay Gray is one of the co-authors and co-hosts the podcast "Haunted Mitten." She shares her journey to the beyond and back in a conversation with Rylee Barnsdale.
  • Affordable housing continues to be an issue in Washtenaw County. In Ypsilanti Township, Habitat for Humanity has built 275 new, affordable homes over the past 30 years. After a period in which it focused on renovating existing homes, it is returning to new construction with two new projects in the township. Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley CEO Sarah Stanton checks in with Rylee Barnsdale to give an update on current and future plans to create more affordable housing.
  • More businesses in Ypsilanti are working to become more sustainable in their practices. A Prospect Park business called "We Adore Flowers" is among them. It focuses on organically grown, local blooms and have gone to great lengths to institute sustainable practices in creating their fragrant offerings. Rylee Barnsdale talked all about the "We Adore Flowers" establishment with its founder/owner, Ginny Blades.