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Milwaukee's Juneteenth celebration draws 40,000+ people, advocates for Wisconsin to recognize it as official holiday

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 19:36:53-04

MILWAUKEE — For many people in Milwaukee, and across Wisconsin, it was back to business as usual Monday morning. Just one day after thousands of people celebrated the Juneteenth holiday.

"I saw smiles from everyone and we saw people of all races, which is what we wanted to see," said Tony Kearney, executive director for the Northcott Neighborhood House, which organized the parade.

For the past two decades, Kearney helped put on one of the longest-running Juneteenth Day celebrations in the country right in Milwaukee. With more than 40,000 people in attendance, 419 vendors and 122 parade participants, this year's holiday celebration was nothing short of a success.

"We actually accomplished something. We brought people together, which is what the African American community always tried to do since 1865," said Kearney.

Despite Milwaukee hosting such a big event, Wisconsin is still one of 26 states that does not recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday.

"If it was the Fourth of July, no matter what day it fell on, people would have it off. That's the way it should be with Juneteenth, because it's another independence day," said Kearney.

Last year, Juneteenth was recognized as a federal holiday. It's also recognized by the city and county of Milwaukee. Now the push is on to recognize it on a state level.

"I think we fight legislatively. We have a lot of elected officials that understand this. That's why it's a federal holiday," said Kearney.

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