Michael K. Williams, best known for his role as Omar in HBO’s ‘The Wire,’ will parade through the streets of Peekskill with dozens of community groups next Saturday, June 16. Williams, along with the Honorable Lois Bronz, the first African-American woman to chair the Westchester County Board of Legislators, are the two Grand Marshals of Peekskill’s
The event kicks off with an opening ceremony at 1:30 p.m. at the At 2 p.m. the parade will travel from there, to Church Street, Broad, to Main to Nelson and end on Central Avenue. Following the parade, from 4 to 8 p.m. a concert featuring three segments –Gospel, Jazz and Hip Hop – will be held at the Peekskill riverfront.
“First we looked in the County to find an African American person that made a difference and opened doors for other African Americans,” said Valerie Swan, Youth Bureau Director and Chair of the Juneteenth Committee. “We came up with Lois,” Swan said of the first woman chair of the Board of Legislators.
“We thought it would be good to have a male as well. And one that has made strides in his career. He had some challenges and obstacles and has done really well,” Swan said of Williams.
Williams was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series,” in 2009. This year “Boardwalk Empire,” the HBO series in which Williams plays Chalky White, the unofficial mayor of Atlantic City’s African American community, won a Screen Actors Guild Award for” Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.” Read his full biography here.
Juneteenth commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, when slaves in Texas found out that they had been freed. It is the oldest continuously celebrated African American Holiday commemorating the Emancipation from slavery.
The celebration is an for the Peekskill community, which is home to a large population of African Americans and has . The Juneteenth celebration allows Peekskill to host other communities and come together to show case what African Americans throughout Westchester and Putnam counties have to offer to their communities, Swan said. Underground Railroad tours will also be held on June 16 during the celebration.
“I think its important because there are many African Americans that have made a lot of strides and it is good for the community to see what is out there,” Swan said. “For instance, the Newburgh youth bureau is in the parade with their drum corps and this gives kids in Peekskill a chance to see other young people from various surrounding communities and some of the things they are doing.”
Peekskill’s Juneteenth was a tradition started in 2011 after Youth Bureau teens were discussing and Swan found out many of them did not know what Juneteenth was, she said. Some kids were familiar with the White Plains Juneteenth parade and they all decided to get involved and help to make it happen in Peekskill.
“It gives the community a sense of pride and something to look forward to and participate in,” Swan said.
This year’s event is sponsored by , Shop Rite, Peekskill Business Improvement District, DoubleTree and
Are you an Omar or Chalky White fan? What do you think of Michael Williams' role in Peekskill's Juneteenth Celebration this year?