Black Platteville Community Network plans to celebrate Juneteenth in-person this year at Smith Park in Platteville on Saturday from 5-8:00 p.m.
“This year’s celebration, like the one planned for last year, is a continuation of our Black Joy series,” network member Sakara Wages said.
People from Grant, Iowa, Lafayette and Dubuque Counties and surrounding communities are expected to join BLKPlattCom for the drop-in event. Activities include a raffle, outdoor recreation such as basketball and volleyball, awards, face painting, photo booth, a community-curated DJ playlist, spades, dominos, and more.
“We’re just looking forward to getting together with our community shortly after the pandemic,” network member Jeremy Payne said.
The theme for the 2021 Juneteenth Celebration will be “Transcend, Connect, Free to Fully Be.” Wages believes the fuel for liberation is celebration, so BLKPlattCom’s event centers joy and sharing space with members of Platteville’s Black community.
“Black women, whether she is wearing a bonnet or not, she knows she’s good when she comes here,” Sakara said.
Last year, BLKPlattCom organized the inaugural Juneteenth “Black Unscripted Grill & Chill.” Sakara said families across different socioeconomic backgrounds, from both within and outside of Grant County, attended the event.
“If you come, you are welcome. In this space we want to make sure we recognize everybody,” Sakara’s mother Carla Wages said.
She also said Juneteenth represents both the legacy and heritage of African Americans and should be passed down to future generations. Carla believes descendents of enslaved Africans should learn about and understand the atrocities their ancestors endured.
“A lot of stories have not been in the textbook so our children have not gotten the real truth. This holiday is a celebration for, but we also want them to know what happened to our people,” she said.
Yesterday, the United States House of Representatives voted 415-14 to make Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday after the Senate unanimously voted to officially recognize Juneteenth National Independence Day. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law. Members of BLKPlattCom shared their thoughts on Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday.
“Regardless of what was passed, we’re going to continue to do what we do for the community,” Payne said.
Sakara feels it is unfortunate that white people get paid for a holiday based on Black freedom, and said it reminds her of when white slave owners received compensation after slavery ended. She also said new legislation does not always grant Black Americans access to the same rights.
“Our lived experience doesn’t change no matter how many policies change, no matter how many presidents are in office,” Sakara said.
Regardless, BLKPlattCom invites members of the community to join them for their celebration of Black resilience and find their own meaning for Juneteenth. While BlackPlattCom continues to fuel the fight for liberation through joy, Sakara hopes younger generations to continue to tap into that spirit of revolution.
“I also want folks to know that we all can celebrate these things in our authentic truths. We can come and be full and make our own meaning of it,” Payne said.
At the event, attendees can also make a cash donation at the Driftless Market on Platteville’s Main Street. Donations will go towards the Black Platteville Community Fund to help support ongoing collective care efforts.
“We also have an anonymous donation box for one of the local businesses. You can choose to write your name on the envelope or not,” Wages said.