Thousands attend Milwaukee's Juneteenth celebration

June 19 marks a historic day
Posted at 5:15 PM, Jun 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-19 19:13:16-04

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee has one of the oldest and largest Juneteeth celebrations in the country. 

Juneteeth, or June 19, marks a historic day for the African-American community.  It's when the last group of slaves in Galveston, Texas were emancipated in 1965.

It's an occasion that's still celebrated with festivals through the county. In Milwaukee, many celebrated the 45th annual festival on Sunday.

“We celebrate when the last slaves found out they were free - so we're all free,” said one community advocate.

To celebrate that freedom, the African-American community came together to show their unity and embrace their heritage and culture.

Dancers with the Nefatari Dance Co. performed in the festivals morning parade - showing off moves rooted in African dance tradition, which their instructor says is not taught in schools.

“We want to keep the culture and so that the young people keep passing it on and on so that we don't lose it,” said dance instructor Marilyn Douglas. 
The street was also filled with tents set up by community outreach groups to address issues impacting the African-American community. 

“Eighty-five percent of all people in prison, men and women, come from fatherless homes,” said Al Holmes with My Father’s House in Milwaukee.  

Coincidentally, this annual event landed on Father's Day. Leaders of My Father's House in Milwaukee said fatherless homes are at the root of many epidemics facing black men.

"Too many of children live in homes where there is no man or no father or no mentoring and that is the result of what we get out here now with all of the crime,” Holmes said.