Juneteenth was being celebrated across Wisconsin on Friday with marches, calls for action, historic flag raisings, parties and virtual discussions moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when news finally reached African Americans in Texas that President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves living in Confederate states two years earlier. The day is gaining more attention this year, and greater significance, as COVID-19 disproportionately affects black America and the calls for racial justice intensify following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
A Juneteenth flag was raised early Friday morning for the first time over the state Capitol in Madison. In Milwaukee, the flag was flying over the city of Milwaukee government building for the first time.
An all-day celebration was planned for the first time in Green Bay, featuring games, speakers and performances. A sit-in and solidarity march were among a host of activities scheduled in Milwaukee. In Madison, a seven-hour rally was planned featuring yoga sessions, spoken word performances and voter registration.
Online events included discussions with black doctors about the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic; spoken word and poetry open mic; community line dancing lessons.