HBO’s ‘Omar' is Grand Marshal of Peekskill Juneteenth Parade

Michael K. Williams, Star of 'The Wire' and 'Boardwalk Empire,' joins the Honorable Lois Bronz as Grand Marshal of 2nd Annual Juneteenth Parade.

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? 

like it is June 13, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Valerie Swan is not telling the truth in this article about the conception of the Juneteenth Parade,in-fact the youth bureau children/teens are not in this years parade.
Liz Giegerich June 13, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Like It is: I spoke with Ms. Swan and she said this is all accurate. I am sure there were many more people involved in the creation of the parade, but this article states that it started after the kids talked about how they didn't know what Juneteenth was. Which Ms. Swan says is accurate. If you'd like to contribute something about how the parade was created and all the people involved in its production I'd love to publish it.
leesther brown June 13, 2012 at 02:19 PM
She sure isn't....
leesther brown June 13, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Liz, Ms Swan is telling an outright lie the children asked about the Juneteenth only after they were being prepped to march. I went to the Mayor in 2008 and asked to have the Celebration in Peekskill,and Ms Swan gave me the excuse that White Plains has the Juneteenth Parade(not having one this year) in 2011 it finally came to be.You can go to folks that say they knew and others that say they know I'm telling you what is so...
peekskillnative June 15, 2012 at 06:12 PM
It doesn't matter...what matters is having the parade however it came to be....who cares.


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