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Juneteenth Day celebration unites Black Milwaukee

Despite poor conditions, thousands of Black Milwaukeeans turned out June 19th to celebrate the 152nd anniversary of the event considered by many to represent the actual end of slavery in the United States.

The Juneteenth Day celebration in Milwaukee, organized by Northcott Neighborhood House, stretches up Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, from Center Street to Burleigh. The annual event features performances, food and local proprietors offering wares, from scented oils to hand-stitched clothing.

Juneteenth is the only Milwaukee festival where the presence of police is significant and noticeable. No major incidents occurred.

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Though the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in 1863, it was not until two years later that the news reached Galveston, Texas, a small city on the coast near Houston. Texas had become a refuge for those fleeing battleground states, some of whom brought enslaved people with them; the announcement abolished one of the country’s last bastions of slavery. Immediately afterward, freedmen rejoiced in the street; the first official festival, organized a year later was dubbed “Juneteenth.”

However, the end of slavery, in law, did not end the practice of dehumanizing Black people. Black Americans have continued to experience legal and extrajudicial discrimination, disenfranchisement, detention and death because of the color of their skin.⬩

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