Mayor's Office

Mayor Neeley’s Juneteenth 2023 message

A message to the Flint community from Mayor Sheldon Neeley:

During my first summer as Flint’s mayor in June 2020, our community and our nation were in the midst of compounding crises: the COVID-19 emergency and social unrest as a result of the racist public execution of George Floyd. At that challenging moment, we came together in solidarity as a community to celebrate Juneteenth. Although our community has organized Juneteenth celebrations for many years, 2020 was the first year that the City of Flint municipal government recognized the holiday. Our goal was bring people together to listen, to heal, and to chart a path forward.

When President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, he legally freed over three million people from bondage, but not everyone received the news right away. Two and half years later, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas and liberated the last enslaved people there. But in June 2020, our society had to reckon with the reality that equal protection of the law had still not been achieved.

So, even as we grieved the injustice around us, we came together to honor the tradition of Juneteenth, Emancipation Day. We came together to honor the experience of African Americans in our community, and to make a renewed commitment to justice at the local level.

Looking back on that historic and difficult year, I am so proud of the strength of our community. Flintstones from every walk of life joined in the refrain, “Black Lives Matter.” In Flint, protestors were protected by police—not silenced. As we celebrate Juneteenth as a city for the fourth time, I am proud of the promise made and promise kept to honor the experiences of African Americans in Flint, and to take action through antiracist policies.

We recognized Juneteenth as a public holiday a year before it became a federally recognized holiday.

We adopted a Duty to Intervene policy, requiring police present at any scene where physical force is being applied, to either stop, or attempt to stop another employee, when force is being inappropriately applied or no longer required.

We installed a statue of Flint Mayor Floyd McCree on the front lawn of City Hall—the first Black mayor of a major American city.

We named Fire Station #1 in honor of Joe Davis Jr., the first Black firefighter to serve in the Flint Fire Department.

We banned choke-holds and no-knock warrants at the local level.

We adopted a local Crown Act, banning race-based hairstyle discrimination.

We banned biased crime reporting, making it a crime to report someone to the police for discriminatory reasons.

We worked with the Peacekeepers to provide urban de-escalation training for Flint Police Officers.

We created a Flint Community Advisory Taskforce to engage with the Flint Police Department.

We have continued to celebrate Black history and Black excellence in our community through activities like renaming a street in honor of Claressa Shields, one of the top athletes in the world today. Children cannot become what they cannot see, and they will reflect what they do see.

Thank you for taking this moment with me to reflect on all we have accomplished together. As we come together over the next 10 days to celebrate again, I wish the entire Flint community a happy and safe Juneteenth holiday.

For the love of the community,

Sheldon A. Neeley

Mayor, City of Flint