Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist appeared at Lansing Community College Thursday for the city’s official celebration of Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery.
Whitmer and Gilchrist spoke to an audience of about 200 in downtown Lansing, including various members of the state Legislature and the Lansing City Council, as well as Mayor Andy Schor.
“It was a privilege when I was in the Legislature to be the one to host on the floor of the state Senate the acknowledgement of Juneteenth,” Whitmer said. “And I am committed to, no matter what my platform is … I’m going to do what I can to ensure that we lift up and empower voices across our state to educate the public about what Juneteenth means, the strides we have made and the work we have yet to do.”
The event was part of Lansing’s “Capitol City Kick-off” for Juneteenth, starting a week of celebrations that will include a series of outdoor festivals in keeping with the holiday’s tradition. Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm first recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday in 2005.
In his keynote speech, Gilchrist connected the holiday’s emancipatory spirit his role as the state’s first African American lieutenant governor and the broader project of public service.
“This is about what we can imagine for ourselves and for our communities,” Gilchrist said.
“A person like me who now is in a position that no one like me has ever held before, it’s not only my responsibility to leave it better than I found it. … it’s about showing for generations to come that we create more space for more people, that’s bigger, stronger, brighter and even more capable.”