Juneteenth celebrations held in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With retro music blasting on the speakers and around a dozen vendors posted along Grand River, the first ever Juneteenth Jam drew a big crowd. 

The event was organized by Justice 4 All. The Juneteenth Jam was one of many events around West Michigan celebrating the holiday.

“That’s what America is all about, unity and everyone coming together celebrating independence,” said Brione “Prime” Caviness, an assistant instructor at Lion Martial Arts Academy.

Instructors and students from the academy demonstrated their moves for the crowd at the event. The Grand Rapids-based academy has been around for three years. Instructors invite people curious about martial arts to check out their academy. They offer training for various ages and skill levels. 

“Definitely would love to have to some more people come out,” said Terell Bowden, the academy’s chief instructor. “We say that LMAA is a family, not always about the fight aspect.”

While many local vendors were displaying their goods, the event also attracted an out-of-town entrepreneur, Olajuwon Bullock. 

The Chicagoan owns Black and Inspired, a company that makes shirts and sweaters. 

“Create and design shirts by myself,” Bullock said.

He started the company last year. He initially sold items online but as more people have ventured outdoors with COVID-19 restrictions easing, he’s thrilled to sell his merchandise in-person.

“It’s a great turnout,” said Bullock. “This is something we’ll be doing next year and year after that.”

At Calder Plaza, The Black Impact Collaborative is hosted Roll Bounce GR. The multi-day event was created by organizers to celebrate Juneteenth in an entertaining way, with free roller-skating. 

“We are celebrating the freedom, emancipation of black people enslaved in United States,” said Angela Nelson, a member of the non-profit organization. 

The Black Impact Collaborative, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary, focuses on community health as part of its mission. 

The organization partnered with Cherry Health to offer an on-site vaccination clinic on Saturday.   

“Informing community about risks related to pandemic,” Nelson said. “We’ve been promoting the vaccinations, talked about it being a crisis in the black community.”

Roll Bounce GR will host skaters for a final day of fun on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

You can reserve a spot online.

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