City of Detroit Announces Juneteenth Celebration and Call For Public Art

City of Detroit Announces Juneteenth Celebration and Call For Public Art

The City of Detroit will kick off Juneteenth 2020 with a week-long series of programming and virtual conversations celebrating Black culture and educating viewers on important issues impacting the Black community. Topics addressed will empower viewers to engage in most relevant discussions aimed to offer healing and empowerment to the black community in Detroit.

The weeklong celebration of events and programming will culminate on Friday, June 19th with a Freedom Rally and the unveiling of a public art message painted along a block-long span of Woodward Avenue leading to Spirit Plaza.


The City of Detroit has announced an open call for a local artist to work with high school students to paint a message of resilience and power on Woodward Avenue downtown. The deadline to submit an application is Sunday, June 14th at 11:59PM EST.

The art students will be comprised of students from the Detroit Public Schools Community District and students from Detroit Heals Detroit, a social justice organization that fosters healing justice for Detroit youth who have suffered trauma and focuses on dismantling systems that cause children pain.

“It’s important to have the youth voice on this project, especially when we’re fighting for black lives,” said Sirrita Darby of Detroit Heals Detroit. “We’re fighting for the next generation. Our ancestors died for us to live.”

According to the call for artists, “the mural will cover the west lanes of Woodward Avenue from Larned to Congress. The street will be closed from Tuesday, June 16 at 6 p.m. until Saturday, June 19 at 8 a.m. The painting will be completed over a 24-hour period on Tuesday and Wednesday, allowing time for it to dry in advance of the city’s Juneteenth Freedom Rally on June 19.”

“In June 1963, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led the ‘Walk to Freedom’ march down Woodward Avenue,” said City Council President Brenda Jones. “Fifty-seven years later, that history will merge on Woodward Avenue with the message of power, resilience and hope painted by the young people as they demonstrate that Black Lives Matter and Black Voices Matter.”


Artist applicants should send a single-page answer to the call with the following:

  • name, address, phone number
  • painting experience
  • prior instances of painting public art or installations
  • previous experience working in the community
  • the number of volunteers they need and
  • a sketch of the project vision

All responses must be sent to by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, June 14th.

“Juneteenth is about more than a celebration of the day many African Americans first learned of the end of slavery; it’s an opportunity to start a needed dialogue to increase understanding and drive real change,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “Throughout our nations’ history, laws and discriminatory policies were put in place and have done untold harm to people of color over generations. This year’s Juneteenth celebration comes at the right time for all of us to reflect and be reminded of the change that still needs to take place.”


Monday, June 15th, 6PM – Juneteenth Kickoff Event

A curated discussion with Detroit Historian Jamon Jordan and City of Detroit Director of the Civil Rights, Inclusion & Opportunity, Charity Dean

Tuesday, June 16th, 6PM 

Black Mental Health Matters – Staying sane during two pandemics, COVID-19 and Racism, Q&A with Licensed Therapist Charnell Dortch

Wednesday, June 17th, 6PM 

Black Education Matters – A conversation on the importance of education and equity in the black community, Kristen Howard, DPSCD, Jennifer Smith, Closing The Gap Detroit, Erik Dean, Dean of Students at Cornerstone’s Washington-Parks Academy

Thursday, June 18th, 6PM 

Criminal Justice Reform – Fixing a broken system, Nicole Huddleston, Detroit Justice Center, Boyd White, Attorney, Richard Mack, Attorney

Friday, June 19th Juneteenth

10 am – Juneteenth Freedom Rally and Street Art Unveiling at Spirit Plaza

2pm – Special video presentation

“Detroit is a Black city, and we’re excited to see a message of Black people’s strength and resilience, a message that is finally being heard around the world,” said Charity Dean, City of Detroit’s Director of Civil Rights, Inclusion & Opportunity.

All conversations will be live-streamed from the City of Detroit’s Facebook page and include Detroit’s subject experts. 2019 was the first year that the City of Detroit’s government has officially organized and sponsored a Juneteenth celebration for its residents. The project is funded by the Knight Foundation and Bedrock. For additional information, please visit

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