By: Emily Guiles
On June 27th WUVS The Beat put on a Juneteenth celebration that took up the whole 23 acres of Smith Ryerson park at 650 Wood street.
103.7 planned the celebration over three months and spent approximately 10,000 dollars of their own money in order to make the celebration possible. There was a raffle with multiple winners and prizes that were all donated.
Members of the Muskegon City Council were present; commissioner Eric Hood and commissioner Willie German Jr.
Commissioner German said that he supports the cities events, and is in favor of positive influences in the community especially involving children. German also said that it is important to engage people and businesses who are supporters of youth.
Also present was commissioner Eric Hood, who said that he was ecstatic about everyone’s involvement. Hood is a supporter of the Juneteenth celebration happening every year and only getting bigger.
Smith Ryerson as a park usually has a lot going on, mostly family reunions and football practice. Smith Ryerson is considered one of the best parks and by having the Juneteenth celebration at Smith Ryerson the community hopes to increase the amount of kids that are usually present at the park. The park is city owned so it was the city council that made sure that WUVS had Smith Ryerson for the celebration.
There was an abundance of artists and performers there, including but not limited to; YES Choir, Ultimate Taste Band, Hannett Singers, Mark Young, Edie Sanders Jr., Gemini DaPoet, Kumasi Mack, Ginger Bread, Pastor Murray, and Drew Allen among many other talents.
Drew Allen who is originally from Oakland, California but was called is an up and coming singer songwriter who writes all of his own work. Allen’s most popular single is “Shoot Me Down”, WUVS radio station is only one of the radio stations that has discovered Allen’s talent. Juneteenth is not his first festival performance, and his favorite things about performing is knowing that the audience got a clear message from the lyrics.
Another performer was Eddie Sanders Jr. who is a praise leader at a church and felt that he had to come to the event because of the children in attendance. Sanders stated that, “our children are under attack,”. Sanders used to abuse drugs but turned his life around and worked hard to earn a degree in criminal justice. Sanders is also a member of Men of Color Read, which promotes literacy mostly for children.
A rare artist is the poet Gemini DaPoet and Kumasi Mack. Gemini has two books of poetry including “Look In My Eyes Feel My Pain”, and “The Gemini Chronicles: Vol 1”. Gemini first started writing poetry after her 14 month old daughter died when she was 17 years old. If she could say one thing to all the children present she would say, “knowledge is the one thing nobody can take from you,”.
16 year old Morgan Griffin read the Emancipation Proclamation out loud, she was chosen for this task because of previous speaking arrangements. Griffin thinks that it is important for kids to hear the proclamation and learn from it, as we are stuck in a time where we don’t know our own history.
To celebrate the culture of Juneteenth Kevin Collins and Kungana performed a collaboration of African music and dance.