June 13, 2020 - June 14, 2020

City of Detroit announces week-long Juneteenth Celebration; issues call for artists to design inspirational message on Woodward Ave

  • Weeklong virtual event series aims to educate, empower and drive change on issues, impacting Black community
  • The celebration will kick off on Monday, June 15, 2020 at 6:00 pm and end June 19, 2020 with a Freedom Rally in Spirit Plaza. (On Woodward and Jefferson Avenues)
  • City puts out call for local artists to design message of power and resilience art installation

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

The weeklong celebration will end next Friday with a Freedom Rally at Spirit Plaza and the unveiling of an uplifting message painted along a block-long span of Woodward Avenue leading to Spirit Plaza.

“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.”


Ahead of the week-long Juneteenth events, the City is issuing an open call for a local artists to work with high school students to paint a message of resilience and power on Woodward Avenue downtown.

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.”

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.”

“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.

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

  • 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 their vision for the project.

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

The project is being funded by the Knight Foundation and Bedrock.

For additional information, please visit

applicable to artists working in these mediums: