Juneteenth and Negro Leagues Day in Michigan

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. It commemorates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that the Civil War had ended and enslaved people were free. Since then, Juneteenth has become a symbol of freedom, resilience, and African American heritage.

Honoring the Negro Leagues

In Michigan, Juneteenth holds special significance, especially in relation to the Negro Leagues. These leagues provided opportunities for Black baseball players during a time of racial segregation. Recently, Michigan took a significant step by recognizing May 2 as Negro Leagues Day in the state.

The Bill and Its Significance

  • The House Bill 4519, which honors the Negro Leagues and designates May 2 as Negro Leagues Day in Michigan, was introduced back on May 4th, 2023 by state Representative Helena Scott (D-Detroit). This bipartisan effort recognizes the significant contributions of Black baseball players and teams in Michigan’s history.
  • The bill specifically honors the Negro Leagues, including the Detroit Stars, one of the eight founding teams.
  • The Detroit Stars quickly established themselves as major contenders in the inaugural 1920 season, finishing just behind the Chicago American Giants.
  • While Jackie Robinson is well-known for integrating the baseball leagues, there were other players like Uncle Ron who faced segregation and made history in their own right.

Governor’s Remarks

  • Governor Gretchen Whitmer emphasized the importance of honoring the history of Black baseball players and teams through bipartisan efforts [1].
  • Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, a Detroit native and Black man, expressed pride in seeing Negro Leagues Day recognized in Michigan [2].