June 17, 2020 – The Ann Arbor Branch of the NAACP is gearing up for its annual Juneteenth celebration, to be held on Saturday, June 20. Juneteenth commemorates the day that the last of the enslaved Africans in the United States of America were freed after the civil war. Historically, this annual observance is held at Wheeler Park, which is named after the first and only African American mayor of Ann Arbor. Due to COVID-19 concerns, this year’s program, to be held from noon–2 pm, will include a virtual screening of Suppressed, the Fight to Vote. The event is co-sponsored by Protectors of Equality in Government (PEG), the City of Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan branch of the NAACP. The film is a production of Brave New Film.
Although this is cause for celebration, none of us can turn our minds from the current social and civil unrest affecting African Americans in this country over the last few months and especially in the last couple of weeks. According to William Hampton, president of the Ann Arbor NAACP, “When we talk of freedom, we cannot access the promise of freedom to Black Americans without access to the vote.”
The Juneteenth program and film, Suppressed, the Fight to Vote, will be shown on Zoom (Registrants will receive Zoom invite by email). Suppressed: The Fight to Vote weaves together personal stories from voters across the state of Georgia to paint an undeniable picture of voter suppression in the 2018 midterm election in which Stacey Abrams fought to become the first Black female governor in the U.S. The issues Georgians faced included polling place closures, voter purges, missing absentee ballots, extreme wait times and a host of voter ID issues – all of which disproportionately prevented many students and people of color from casting their ballots. Suppressed: The Fight to Vote features experts, poll watchers and everyday Georgians speaking to the reality of voter suppression and the threat it poses in 2020. In a race that was ultimately decided by 54,723 votes, the film exposes that the basic constitutional right to vote continues to be under siege in America.
The Juneteenth celebration will be preceded by the Walk for Racial Justice, also sponsored by the City of Ann Arbor, NAACP and PEG. The walk will begin at 9 am at Fuller Park (1519 Fuller Road), going along the Border to Border Trail to Wheeler Park (200 Depot Street).