MILWAUKEE — For the first time in 49 years, Milwaukee’s annual Juneteenth Day Street Festival will not be celebrated on North Martin Luther King Drive.
In place of the usual parade and street festival, the Northcott Neighborhood House is planning virtual events for Friday. Juneteenth Day celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.
In Milwaukee, the celebration usually draws people of all ages by the thousands.
On Friday, TMJ4 News, a news partner of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, will air clips about the holiday’s rich history and feature historians and community members discussing what the day means to them.
“We were planning to do an event later in the year,” said Fran Lee of Northcott Neighborhood House, a multipurpose community center that has been one of the anchor organizations for the yearly celebration. “But we don’t know when the coronavirus crisis will be over, so we had to do something.”
Northcott Neighborhood House partnered with the TV station and Bader Philanthropies to find a creative way to celebrate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley and County Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson announced that Milwaukee County employees will have a floating holiday on June 19 to mark the day.
In addition, Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday said the Juneteenth flag will be raised over the Wisconsin State Capitol beginning at sunrise on Friday.
“As a state that sees some of the most disparate outcomes for Black Wisconsinites, it is as important as ever that we recognize and reflect on our history, celebrate Black resiliency and move forward in solidarity and strength toward a more racially equitable and just society,” Evers said in a news release.
Other Juneteenth events
Safe and Sound will host a virtual Juneteenth via Facebook Live on Friday.
The organization, which works to unite residents, youth, law enforcement and community groups to create safer neighborhoods throughout the city, is usually in charge of the youth stage, which is used to amplify youth voices and creativity.
This year, Safe and Sound leaders intend to provide a virtual space for youth.
“Every year we are able to educate young people in the space on the importance of Juneteenth and provide entertainment,” Damien Smith, the youth program manager, said. “We want to maintain the education and entertainment aspect of Juneteenth.”
The event will take place from noon to 2 p.m. and include prerecorded performances, resident testimonials about their favorite Juneteenth moments and history lessons about the holiday.
COA Youth and Family Centers will host a community cleanup and peaceful protest in celebration of Juneteenth Day. The cleanup and protest will take place at Moody Park, 2320 W. Burleigh St.
The cleanup will start at 10 a.m. and is open to the community.
Ashley Harrell the director of Goldin Center, said the day will include a mobile studio, yoga and poster-making for youth.
Peoples Movement presents a Juneteenth sit-in at noon Friday at 3300 N. Martin Luther King Drive.
The BLACK WMNZ Emancipation Protest and Juneteenth Block Party begins at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Sojourner Family Peace Center, 619 W. Walnut St., and ends with a block party from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Alice’s Garden, 2136 N. 21st St.
A Juneteenth Day and Sickle Cell Awareness Blood Drive will take place throughout the day and is being sponsored by Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin. To schedule an appointment, click here or call 877-232-4376.
The Juneteenth Youth Rally and Expo takes place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Carmen Middle/High School of Science and Technology’s Northwest Campus, 5496 N. 72nd St. Masks will be provided.