Beyond the Classroom: Young black adults in Michigan illuminate Juneteenth’s Significance

Pictured: Top, bottom left to right: Demetrius Noakes, Laron Long and Alaya Pack

In February, the Lansing School District Board of Education voted 6-0 to institute Juneteenth (June 19 or Black Independence Day) as a district-wide holiday. This decision was made on Feb. 22, a week before the conclusion of black history month. This resolution sparked a conversation about the knowledge and impact of celebrating Juneteenth within the African American community. 

Alaya Pack, a 20-year-old MSU student studying African/African American Studies shared that did not learn about Juneteenth until college, “I, of course, heard about it before then, but it makes me sad that it took so long to get introduced to and learn about this celebration.”

Juneteenth is the day that commemorates the liberation of enslaved people in the United States marking the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas in 1865. Michigan’s Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, signed bipartisan legislation on July 12, 2023, declaring Juneteenth as a state holiday in Michigan.

Meridian Township hires new first responders as the number of calls increases 

In January, Meridian Township Fire Chief, Chris Hamel, introduced the department’s newest member to the fire department. This greeting comes after the township launched an EMS recruitment program to hire and retain firefighter paramedics. 

Fire chief Chris Hamel shared, “As of January 1st, we [Meridian Fire Department] increased our staffing from 34 to 36 employees in our operations division; it’s based on an increase in call volume over the last six to eight years. Our demand has gone up so much.” 

According to the department’s website, the Meridian Township Fire Department (MTFD) is the second most active department in Ingham County, attending to an average of 5,000 emergencies yearly. Over the period since 2010, there has been a 10% rise in the number of calls received by the Meridian Township Fire Department. Joshua Hengesbach, from Grand Ledge, MI, was welcomed by the Meridian Township committee board and the community.