Milwaukee's Juneteenth Day celebrations return in 2021

Milwaukee's Juneteenth celebration is a go for 2021 – and organizers expect this year's event to be the city's biggest since the pandemic. It's also celebrating 50 years of fun, food, Black history and culture. 

"Everyone is welcome at Juneteenth. It is not just a Black holiday, it is an American holiday," said Tony Kearney, Executive Director of Northcott Neighborhood House.

Tony Kearney

Tony Kearney

Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, when the last group of slaves in Galveston, Texas found out they were free. 

"We put this on for the last 50 years because it is important. Not only to the community but to future members of the community," Kearney said.

This year's Juneteenth Day in Milwaukee will also include a parade that will start at 14th and Atkinson. It will include bands, floats, and teachable moments.

"We portray the only Black unit from Wisconsin that participated in the Civil War," said Ricky Townsell, Civil War reenactor.

Ricky Townsell

Ricky Townsell

Townsell wants to remind Wisconsinites the state played an important role.

"You’re going to get an education in the parade. We will be in the parade and you’ll see what we looked like in 1864 and 1865," Townsell said.

What about masks and social distancing? Organizers say they will be encouraging both.  

"We'll have about 75 courtesy ambassadors who will have masks and will be asking anyone who's unmasked to mask up," Kearney said.

Something else to expect in this year's celebration – a fun zone for kids. 

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Organizers say 46 vendors have committed to taking part in Juneteenth Day. They're selling food, clothing, and merchandise. But organizers say they are looking for even more vendors to take part. The registration deadline is June 7.

The event will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 19.