Here in Milwaukee, the City of Festivals, there is a celebration of freedom that takes place in June that you absolutely MUST know about. Juneteenth. Let’s talk about what Juneteenth is and why you should get excited to celebrate Juneteenth Day!
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — Black History is Human History. Black History does not just belong in one particular month on the calendar, but should be taught, discussed, celebrated, and shared every week of the year and Juneteenth Day provides a unique opportunity to create a conversation with our friends, family, and children about slavery and to celebrate freedom.
The History of Juneteenth Day
Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day, celebrating when the last slaves were finally freed during the Civil War. The executive order of President Abraham Lincoln, signed on September 22, 1862, declared that all slaves were to be freed, however, this proclamation only applied to the states in the Confederate States of America. Many of the state governments in Union-held regions had already outlawed slavery and as the Union armies began to overtake Confederate-held areas, the people being held as property were “set free.” Although the executive order immediately freed the approximately 3 million people who were considered to be property, it was not until the victorious Union army physically reached them that they were released.
Juneteenth Day is celebrated on June 19th to commemorate when Union Soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 (yes, nearly three years after the Emancipation Proclamation) not only with news the war had ended but with enough troops to occupy the area and free the last remaining slaves being held.
Why Does Juneteenth Matter?
We think our friends over at Wine Country Moms Blog put it perfectly:
Juneteenth was an historic moment for Black people in the United States, and remains a cause for celebration today. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their native languages, cultures, religions, songs, foods, and family histories. Millions more, born into slavery, created a new culture in a foreign country.
Juneteenth is the first Black-centric holiday in America, ever. It is not celebrating so much the end of slavery, but the birth of Black America. Juneteenth recognizes survival, the power of knowledge, and the emergence of African Americanism. Juneteenth is not, however, a holiday for only Black people. All Americans can celebrate Juneteenth, ensuring that the lessons learned and struggles overcome are never forgotten.
Celebrating Juneteenth Day in Milwaukee
Celebrate freedom, history, culture and have a ton of fun by celebrating Juneteeth Day in the Milwaukee area.
The Annual Juneteenth Day Festival
2020 Celebration Canceled Due to COVID-19
An annual festival that features musical performances, numerous vendors from food to toys, along with community organizations sharing helpful resources for residents of all ages, has been canceled due to COVID-19.
Instead, according to a social media post, the Northcott Neighborhood House and the Juneteenth Day Executive Committee will hold a Freedom Ball later this year, to be scheduled sometime between October and December.
The event will also host fundraising efforts for the Juneteenth 2021 celebrations.
Juneteenth Day Scholarships for local youth will still be given out although this year’s annual festival will not take place.
Follow all updates on the Milwaukee Juneteenth Day Festival HERE!
Learn about Juneteenth Day and Celebrate with Your Family
Even though the festival itself won’t be able to happen this year, there are plenty of ways you and your family can commemorate this special day and use it as an opportunity to educate and celebrate.
- Support Black-Owned Businesses: Order food from a local black-owned restaurant with curbside pickup or delivery to maintain social distance. Obviously, many businesses will be opening up at differing paces and with a variety of policies in place to keep everyone safe, so always check in with the business directly first to make sure they are open and in what capacity. FIND YOUR FAVORITES HERE!
- Read Books that go into the History of Juneteenth: Have young kids who want to learn more about Juneteenth? Here’s a list of four children’s books about Juneteenth that you and your kids can read together. Want to read more from black authors about the history that Juneteenth is a part of? Check out this Juneteenth Reading List from Penguin Random House.
- Attend the Safe & Sound Virtual Juneteenth Event: This event will take place entirely on Zoom. Head here for more info on Facebook. The event will be celebrating the history, culture and freedom through arts like music, poetry, and dance.
- Explore the Black Holocaust Museum: Even in the times of social distancing, you can explore the virtual galleries of America’s Black Holocaust Museum, located right here in Milwaukee.
- Listen to the Bridge the Divide Podcast: The monthly in-person meetings at the Cedarburg library may be on hold for the time being, but you can listen to the podcast and engage in essential conversations about race and social justice.
Will you be celebrating Juneteenth? We would love to hear your plans!