'Invest in them': Freedom Festival in Holland will celebrate Juneteenth

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HOLLAND — Next week, a local organization will make extra efforts to connect Hollanders with Black-owned businesses and resources.

Holland’s fourth annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival will run 2-7 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at Kollen Park. It comes four days before Juneteenth — June 19, 1865, is considered the date when the last enslaved African Americans were freed. Juneteenth has become a federal holiday in the U.S.

The event, hosted by I AM Academy, will have live music, a DJ, food vendors, business vendors, inflatables and more.

I AM Academy is hosting their fourth annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival from 2-7 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at Kollen Park.

Lindsay Cherry serves as co-founder and co-executive director of I AM Academy, and has also worked in local school systems. She said the Black community is often overlooked, and is the most disenfranchised and marginalized group.

“This representation is important for the residents of Holland, to see that the Black community is here, that it matters, that the culture is important and that we also contribute to the inclusivity and welcoming of our community,” Cherry said.

I AM Academy is hosting their fourth annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival from 2-7 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at Kollen Park.

Cherry compared the event to those from Latin Americans United for Progress and other local organizations — events that directly impact residents and serve as an educational tool.

“(They) give us an opportunity to celebrate the diversity in Holland and also consider what these different communities are having to overcome in order to thrive,” she said.

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Other events from I AM Academy include a history talk from 7-8:30 p.m. Monday, June 17, at the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts (221 Columbia Ave.) and a family skate night from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at Rollxscape (12521 James St.) — plus a farmers market storytime Wednesday, June 19, at the Holland Civic Center.

“Our community needs to be able to receive all of us,” Cherry said. “For them to be able to change their mindset and to know that our kids are not thugs, they aren’t gangsters. We have brilliant kids in our community with huge dreams and they just need people to invest in them just like every other child in the community.”

To learn more, visit iamacademymi.org/juneteenth.

— Contact reporter Austin Metz at ametz@hollandsentinel.com.

This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Freedom Festival in Holland will celebrate Juneteenth