U-M grads win grant money to kick off Juneteenth celebration in Detroit

A group of University of Michigan graduates was awarded grant money to kick off a Juneteenth celebration in Detroit

The group won the money in a competition that's part of Passages Leadership Incubator program, which offers current and recent college graduates the opportunity to apply the leadership skills and Christian faith they deepened during their Passages experience to develop innovative community-changing initiatives and businesses.

“It’s an opportunity for our top alumni to take some of the lessons that they learned from their trip to Israel and the follow-up leadership development programming, as well as their own life experiences from their own communities," said Malcolm Fitschen, director of Alumni Engagement for Passages Israel.

Mikhaella Norwood lead the group and won $10,000 to create a Juneteenth celebration.

“Really, what we want to do is showcase the beauty of Blackness as well as celebrate the ulture because a lot of people don’t know what Juneteenth actually is so we really want to showcase that it's not just a Black holiday but it truly is an American holiday," she said.

Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the U.S.

“One of the things I was excited about that Michaella was sharing is really, they hope for this to be the first of its kind and to take a very specific local event in Detroit and eventually ideally grow that over the course of the next several years," Fitschen said.

The initiative is not just about business it’s also about faith and bridging gaps. Passages Leadership Incubator program seeks to spur innovation via community changing endeavors.

“This year we’re going to be reaching out to the Jewish community and really getting a sense of other people’s stories even within something that we may see as "our" day but it really is a day that is for all Americans and to celebrate freedom because none of us are free until all of us are free," Norwood said.