RACINE, Wis. — In Racine, Juneteenth isn't just a one-day event. For the community, it's a week-long celebration.
"People are now out of bondage, and we have the ability now to be everything and anything that we want to be," said Annette Washington, vice president community manager for JP Morgan Chase.
Since last Saturday, the city has hosted everything from a Miss Juneteenth Pageant to a Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony, black history classes, and more. It is all a part of an effort to educate those about the historic day.
"Up to this point, it's been great," said Melvin Hargrove, the chief diversity officer for Racine County. "It gives people the ability to really understand what Juneteenth is."
Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, when the final enslaved person learned they were free nearly two years after the emancipation proclamation.
Wednesday in Racine, minority business owners connected with contractors and learned how to start, grow, and sustain their businesses.
"The biggest problem for most minority companies is they don't have the connections, and they don't have the helping hand to go through the process to get to the table," said Kendrick Scales, co-owner of Scales Pro Audio & Media Group.
There are even more events to come, including an inaugural Juneteenth parade this Saturday and a fundraising gala.
"Friday night we have what's called a sneaker ball and it's just going to kind of pay tribute to the ones that were before us that made sure we kept Juneteenth going," said Washington.
People say it's all an opportunity to look back on where they've come from - and know they have a bright future ahead.
"I know my ancestors are proud, and I'm going to keep making them even more proud," said James Methu.
To see a full list of upcoming Juneteenth celebrations in Racine, click here.