GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It was a day of unity and celebration as groups across West Michigan joined the country in commemorating Juneteenth.

“You put us at the top of every negative statistic but today with Juneteenth we come out in pride to say that, ‘We are great Black people doing great things and we are here to talk about Black success,'” Jewellynne Richardson said.

West Michigan Jewels of Africa hosted its fifth annual Juneteenth parade, followed by activities that were held at Dickinson Park.

African drum and dance groups walked the streets as they celebrated the day African Americans across the country were made aware of the Emancipation Proclamation and their freedom.

“This is not just a party. We will not allow people to commercialize what is ours,” Richardson said. “Our ancestors brought it to us. They brought us through for our freedom and that’s what we need. We need people to understand the culture.”

There are events that will continue throughout the night. For a list of what’s happening near you click here.