While celebrating Juneteenth Day, leaders of black community call for end to violence

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Thursday, June 19th marked "Juneteenth Day" and hundreds, if not thousands took to the streets to celebrate. Many of them were also having a very important conversation.

Juneteenth Day commemorates the day when the last of the slaves were told of the Emancipation Proclamation -- and some are saying this celebration is the perfect opportunity to talk about cutting down on violence and crime in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee's Juneteenth Day celebration has all the signs of a summer block party -- throngs of people crowded into the street, food vendors, and music.

"It`s kind of like our liberation day just as the Fourth of July is for the country," Marcellius Brown said.

It's a day to remember the past, but some also think it's a chance to plot a better course for the future.

"If you read the headlines, and living in neighborhoods like we do, you know that there is much more growth and much more that we need to do to return to the greatness of our people," Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele Coggs said.

Community leaders are using the festival as a forum to call for an end to the headline-grabbing acts of violence we've seen lately in Milwaukee.

"We should be concerned about violence always and we should be working every day -- even when there wasn`t a shooting last night, even when there wasn`t something that happened last night -- to ensure the safety of our children and our communities," Coggs said.

It's not just the leaders of the black community standing on that message. Even ordinary folks just strolling the street say this celebration provides them an opportunity to be good examples for younger generations.

"Terrible, terrible violence. There`s no need for all of that. You know, you get an education. You get yours, I get mine. Don`t feel that you have to take from me to be big. No -- it's not about that. It`s about using our minds and getting together," Rosie Caradine-Lewis said.

The Juneteenth Day celebration began around 9:00 a.m. Thursday.

The street festival is free and open to the public.