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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A rainy and overcast day didn’t deter patrons or proprietors from the 2018 Juneteenth Day festival. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
An ACLU Legal Observer distributes information on civil liberties to a festival-goer. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
People promoted businesses, resources and political candidates at the afternoon festival. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
Free smiles were in abundance. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
Daniel Avant (left), 45; Marcus Tyler, 48 (in black); and their friend, who identified himself as “Shaky Dog,” have a drink at the corner of Locust and MLK. Tyler grew up in the area, but lives on the west side now. He said his experience in Milwaukee has been “all about adapting.” Avant, who was raised near 28th & Congress, said the group had been at Juneteenth for a couple of hours: “You see a lot of people you haven’t seen in a long time.” (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
Elriche Williams, 19, recently became a father. Though he and the mother aren’t necessarily friendly, he says “I don’t regret having her,” referring to his 1-year-old daughter. “It’s about her — it’s not about us anymore.” (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
Brandon Gibson (right), 19, has been in Milwaukee for the last three years after stints in cities across the country, a result of his father’s employment. Gibson plans to return to Atlanta to pursue a career in music. He writes about “the hustle, the grind … life — real situations people can relate to.” (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
Earnell Lucas (left) — who recently secured endorsements from Voces de la Frontera, Wisconsin Working Families Party and Black Leaders Organizing for Change (BLOC) in his bid to be the next Milwaukee County Sheriff — shakes hands with Charles Taylor (in orange). Taylor, 50, said law enforcement must begin to act differently, citing the need for transparency and “mutual respect.” He said: “There’s no reason my heart should start beating when I see a police behind me.” (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
The festival, which stretches from Center Street to Burleigh on MLK, drew a crowd of thousands, despite some light rain. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
Joseph Patten, 46, leans against a boarded-up building holding recently purchased, tin-foil-wrapped rib tips. Patten, who has been in Milwaukee for eight years, enjoys the Juneteenth celebration, and attends “to unite and fellowship with my brothers and sisters.” He says it feels good to see people together and that those of all colors and creeds must build stronger relationships with one other. “Living in this day and time, we need that,” Patten says. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
Zarria Stewart (left), 14, says the Milwaukee she knows has “a lot to offer,” while Juanita, Zarria’s grandmother, remembers a time when neighbors would congregate on porches and people left their doors unlocked. Juanita, who has 13 grandchildren, hopes we can begin to live in love once again. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
Dozens of police — on bike, foot and horse — congregated at places up and down MLK. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
A young person totes a toy saxophone in a Mickey Mouse stroller. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
James Harris, 32, and his daughter Aira, 7, paused for a moment. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
Victor Fitzpatrick, 13, (far right) and Jakquir Hale, 12, (in blue) stop to talk with Gab Taylor (far left) and Vaun Mayes, of Program the Parks. Hale and Fitzpatrick told of an incident near Sherman Park where they were handcuffed and detained by a Milwaukee police officer, who biked past as the group spoke. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
The heavy police presence was unmistakable, though slightly less pronounced than years past, when, in some cases, MPD stationed armed officers on rooftops overlooking the street. The practice drew ire and criticism from civil rights advocates and Black Milwaukeeans. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
Tommie Hall, 70, who has spent many years in the area, dropped by at the end of the day after a visit with his 93-year-old mother. “I guess they need to show force,” he said of the large number of police, acknowledging that there have been incidents here and there at the festival. “I know they don’t intimidate me,” Hall said, casually. “Maybe they do intimidate some people; some people intimidate them.” (Photo by Jabril Faraj)
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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