FLINT, Michigan — Juneteenth celebrations kicked off in Flint
over the weekend to celebrate the new national holiday. On Friday, June 17, Flint hosted three significant events across the city. One, in particular, was a Juneteenth edition of 'Paint With a Purpose' that brought over two dozen residents from Sarvis Park and the broader 2nd and 9th Wards together to enjoy an evening of food, painting, music, and community.
Juneteenth was created after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. It would free enslaved people and make slavery nationally outlawed through the Thirteenth Amendment.
, “in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state were free by executive decree.” These newly freed Americans named the day Juneteenth.
And while some didn’t fully know what Juneteenth meant, the event allowed them to learn about it and share their ideas through painting.
"The children are our future, and we have to give these babies a space to introduce the arts, [explain] how fun it is, and that it can be a career.” - Tamika Hicks
“I don’t know too much about it,” says Jermaine Lewis, explaining what the black, red, and green Juneteenth colors symbolize to him. “Black is for my skin. Red is for the blood we shed. Green is for this money.”
The Family Paint Night was a free event for families sponsored by Legal Research One, LLC, with Light’N Up Provisioning and Microbuddary providing Hungry Howie’s Pizza. The family-friendly event was graciously hosted by Tamika Hicks, founder, and owner of the black-owned business, Paints Chalices & Hues
, located on South Saginaw Street.
Events like this and seeing children engage with the arts make owning her business worthwhile.
“Ladel and the 2nd Ward, I see how much she’s doing over there. It’s the community building, and that’s important to me, seeing as Flint as a whole is my community,” says Hicks. “Juneteeth needs to be ‘our’ independence day, and we need to celebrate it how we see fit. The children are our future, and we have to give these babies a space to introduce the arts, [explain] how fun it is, and that it can be a career.”
“Dr. Ladel said she was invading the 9th Ward, and I said we’ll come. I think it turned out to be great!” - Eva Worthing
With the theme of Juneteenth, Paints Chalices & Hues provided all the materials to help attendees paint their stenciled canvas. In addition, an instructor was on hand to give a live demonstration and offer ideas, suggestions, and help with mixing colors.
Although the 2nd Ward was host, the combination of the 2nd and 9th Ward was unique to this event. It’s something that Eva Worthing, 9th Ward’s councilwoman, appreciates and was able to teach her children about.
“Dr. Ladel said she was invading the 9th Ward, and I said we’ll come. I think it turned out to be great!” Worthing said. “My kids didn’t know what it was, but it was a perfect way to explain it and bring people together.”
The event’s conclusion saw everyone dance to Pharell’s song “Happy,” take group photos and enjoy their newly created Juneteenth artwork.