Cassopolis residents host Juneteenth event at Clisbee Park

CASSOPOLIS — This weekend, Clisbee Park in Cassopolis was filled with community members chatting and catching up after a long winter and an even longer year of COVID-19 shutdowns. The event bringing them together once again was a celebration of African Americans’ emancipation.

Saturday, Cassopolis resident TiLynne Williams, along with her siblings, hosted a Juneteenth celebration at Clisbee Park. Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of the last enslaved African Americans. On June 19, 1865, word of liberation arrived in Galveston, Texas, officially ending slavery in the state. Celebrations of the holiday date back as far as 1866 in some parts of the country, gaining popularity throughout the 20th century. On Thursday, President Joe Biden named Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Saturday’s event in Clisbee Park marks the second annual Juneteenth event in Cassopolis. The event featured food, games and contests. The evening finished with the group setting off lanterns at Stone Lake Beach.

“This is a need here in the village,” Williams said. “We need to have this here. We need to do this because [Juneteenth] is not known. People need to know that Fourth of July isn’t when our independence came.”

On the heels of Juneteenth being named a federal holiday, Williams said she was more excited than ever to host a Juneteenth event.

“With it being a federal holiday, this is a big, big deal,” she said. “It’s amazing. We almost never thought we would see this.”

Also fueling Williams’ excited Saturday was the event’s turnout.

“We love the support,” Williams said. “We are Cassopolis. This is a community where people come together and stick together.”

Despite the strong showing at Saturday’s event, Williams said she hopes to see the event grow in future years.

“I want to see this grow bigger,” she said. “I hope the village and the community will make this an event, and say, ‘every year on June 19, we are going to meet at Clisbee Park.’ I want them to support this, something that the village needs. I want it to be on the calendar every year.”

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