Juneteenth, Pride, and the Diversity of Battle Creek

“Proving once and for all, that just because Battle Creek is a smaller city, does not mean we are small minded.”

Summer is a time for celebration, not only for the escape from the bitterness of Michigan winter, but for the diversity of our people. Battle Creek and Calhoun County are and have always been a destination for forward thinking and hardworking people. In a darker era of American history, we were a safe haven for slaves seeking a better life. The last stop of a harrowing journey to promised freedom from unspeakable oppression.

In more recent times, Michigan has been a cornerstone in embodying African American Culture (think Motown, or Idlewild) and has never been a place where people are commonly demonized by their skin color or way of life. And while we have faced challenges to this assertion, Michiganders have overcame these cultural ills with a sense of community, pride and resolve. Battle Creek and our wonderful county are certainly no exception.

Even in today’s fast moving world, we have made great strides to promote this cultured and progressive identity. I speak of course about Battle Creek Pride, which is both an organization and a festival that have made excellent advances in reaching out to, and bringing respect towards our LGBT brothers and sisters. A Pride Parade, which was once just a celebration reserved for big cities like Chicago, New York or Los Angeles, has found a home in our neck of the woods. Proving, once and for all, that just because Battle Creek is a smaller city, does not mean we are small minded.

This summer, I invite all the people of Battle Creek and Calhoun County to rejoice in the celebration of inclusion and unity that is Battle Creek Pride; and of course next year, attend and learn about the remarkable, storied festival of freedom that is Juneteenth. I eagerly hope to see you at the parade this year, sporting a rainbow that emblemizes the idea of togetherness and diversity of our people — I know I will be!

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