Milwaukee kicks off Juneteenth celebration weekend

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Juneteenth celebrations in Milwaukee have begun. On Friday, June 17, City Hall raised their Juneteenth flag, a flag they said represents freedom and belonging. Marquette University also welcomed the public to an event where music, food and fun were all in attendance.

"We're celebrating liberation, we're celebrating freedom from slavery, we're celebrating the one's who toiled, who sweated and who bled to build this country. We're celebrating their freedoms," said Mayor Cavalier Johnson at the City Hall event.

Juneteenth -- also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Black Independence Day -- commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. This year, June 19, it falls on Father's Day.

"It's really significant because we’re talking about the freedom of black men and women so it really is, so it's not lost on me that it's on Father's Day," said Milwaukee Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, who was the host of the event at City Hall.

Marquette University and the Safe and Sound organization collaborated and invited the public to a Juneteenth celebration. Diamond Thompson of Safe and Sound said the federal holiday is not only a celebration for the Black community but for all.

"We want to celebrate everyone. We want to celebrate Black and brown communities, caucasian communities, Asian communities. Everyone," said Thompson.

Milwaukee has been celebrating Juneteenth for over 50 years. In 2021, President Joe Biden officially made Juneteenth, celebrated June 19, the 11th American Federal Holiday.

Alderwoman Lewis said she sees this as an educational opportunity for everyone, as she noted that several people have never heard of Juneteenth and its significance up until the last couple of years.

"I'm not blaming anyone for not knowing because we weren't taught so now it's just the education piece which I'm really excited about," said Alderwoman Lewis.

Milwaukee's Juneteenth celebration is among the older and longest-running Juneteenth events in the country.

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