Saginaw festival celebrates Juneteenth

Saginaw’s Juneteenth celebration included a pageant that was held Friday and a festival Sunday.
Published: Jun. 18, 2022 at 7:01 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WNEM) - Saginaw’s Juneteenth celebration included a pageant that was held Friday and a festival Sunday.

Saginaw’s Juneteenth celebration committee held a parade for the first anniversary of its namesake federal holiday.

“I’m here for the celebration here today respect and memory. All of the hard times and things we went through with, but making success today again,” said Wilmer Ham McZee, former Saginaw mayor.

Former Saginaw Mayor, and first woman to hold the job, Wilmer Ham McZee was one of many dignitaries. Carlean Gill was another.

“Knowing what my grand-cestors went through to come to what it is today mean a whole lot of me,” said Carlean Gill, parade grand marshall.

Gill was the parade’s grand marshall. She owned several businesses in Saginaw and was a former dancer at Idlewild, a black resort town in the twentieth century.

“To learn your history. And once you learn your history, you have more of, more of a self confidence in yourself,” Gill said.

Gill wants young people to know their history too, like Jordan Lynn Thomas, Little Miss Juneteenth.

“It’s like an exciting holiday. Like when you like, how you know about your black history,” Thomas said.

She won her section of Friday’s Juneteenth pageant.

“Say you went to Disneyland. When you go to Disneyland, it’s just like, makes you feel so so happy! That’s how I felt when I won,” Thomas said.

Zariah Simon won the title of Miss Juneteenth.

“It means a lot. It means that I get to be the face of black freedom. I get to inspire kids to do what I do. It just feels really good. It’s a great experience,” said Zariah Simon, Miss Juneteenth.

The committee’s goals include collaborating with the city and local organizations, emphasizing the importance of education and achievement, and engage all communities.