MILWAUKEE — Kanika Ward and her 10-year-old daughter Kalimaa Free are no strangers to Milwaukee’s Juneteenth celebrations.
“We have been celebrating Juneteenth in my family since I don’t even know how long,” Kanika says.
“I always go to the parade, like every year,” Kalimaa adds. “So it was my first time being in the parade. It was really cool for me.”
Kalimaa got to be in the parade because she was crowned Little Miss Juneteenth last year. The Juneteenth Day Pageant honors young men and women in the Milwaukee area for their talents, academic achievements and service to their communities.
“I really liked riding in the corvette, that was really fun,” Kalimaa says.
But Kalimaa is much more than a beauty queen. She had to show off her piano playing skills and share how she gives back.
“My dad has a community garden that I go to a lot. So that was one of the things, I do a lot of volunteering, I pick up the trash,” she says. “I think that was one of the things that helped me win.”
Kanika is glad her daughter had the opportunity to be recognized by her city and to learn some history.
“We have tons of books in our home and we always surround ourselves with African art and culture and all that kind of thing,” Kanika says. “So it’s very important to instill that in another generation, so she’s grown up knowing what Little Miss Juneteenth meant.”
And we can’t forget, Kalimaa won a $2,000 scholarship along with her crown. It’s a great building block to further her education.
“I’m probably going to save it up,” Kalimaa says. “School is really fun for me, and I like learning new things.”
But college is a long way off for Kalimaa. For now, she’s enjoying being royalty – she’ll pass on her crown at the Freedom Ball on Saturday.
If you’d like to support scholarships like the one Kalimaa won, you can bid in the Freedom Ball Auction, going on now. There are great items up for grabs, including a Buddy Guy guitar or a signed Aaron Jones football. Just follow this link.