Edith Hilliard

“Juneteenth is really important to me and I’m really interested in educating our community on holidays where we center ourselves as African Americans,” Tara Wilhelmi, volunteer manager at the Goodman Community Center, tells Madison365. “With all of these issues that we face – both internally and externally in our community – every opportunity we have to come together in fellowship and to talk about things is a welcomed opportunity.”

With that in mind, the Goodman Community Center will host its First Annual Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch on Saturday, June 23, 10 a.m. The guest emcee will be Antoine McNeail of 1Motion Outreach Enterprises who will lead a very entertaining program as the host.

“He’s just wonderful … I’m expecting some great things from him,” says Wilhelmi, who is organizing the event. “We have [pop and R&B group] Trilogy – three lovely young ladies – who will be performing. African N American Fit will be doing a showcase – they will have some models walk through wearing their clothes as Trilogy performs.”

Melly Mel’s will be catering the event that will feature fabulous soul food like fried chicken, baked ham, waffles, egg-vegetable bake, baked macaroni and cheese, collard greens, mixed vegetable stir fry, grits, biscuits and gravy, cornbread and more.

The First Annual Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch will also be a chance to honor Goodman Community Leader Awards. “The goal with these awards was to really think about people who have been active in our community but aren’t necessarily in that main group that always gets recognized. They are kind of flying under the radar,” Wilhelmi says.

Jalateefa Joe-Meyers will receive an award for her knowledge-sharing.

Jalateefa Joe-Meyers

“I went to high school with Jalateefa and as an adult, I’ve encountered her in many different places through engagement with the school district and now what she’s doing out in Sun Prairie,” Wilhelmi says. “No matter where I see her or how long I talk to her, I walk away with some new information.”

Edith Hilliard will receive the Legacy Award.

“Edith is one of those people who has always been involved in the community and has always been doing the work and she flies under the radar, as well,” Wilhelmi says. “I’m really looking forward to honoring her and celebrating her for all that she has done and who she is.”

Any funds that are made from the event will go right back into the programs at Goodman Community Center. Wilhelmi stresses that Goodman wants to make the first annual Juneteenth celebration as affordable as possible. “It’s about community. It’s really an investment from the center into supporting the community. We made it so there is a sliding-scale fees,” she says. “The suggested fee is $8 for an adult and $15 for families … that’s a suggested fee. You pay what you can and what’s been happening is that we’ve had several people go online and pay a little extra. It’s really evening out and I really like that model.”

Madison celebrates its big Juneteenth celebration at Penn Park on the south side every year. Now, it’s cool to have something on the east side, too.

“When I was talking to Becky [Steinhoff, Executive Director of Goodman Community Center] about having an additional Juneteenth, I told her about when I used to be a mother of three on the north side with no car what a struggle it was to get me and the little guys over to the south side for the celebration,” Wilhelmi says. “I thought how nice it would be to have something on this side of town. We talked about how there really isn’t a lot that centers the black community on the east and north sides in spite of all the population that is there.

“We do hope to do this every year and that the celebration grows,” she adds. “Next year, we used to have a few more community awards, too. I just love having the opportunity for people to come together like this on the east side.”

For more information about Goodman Center’s First Annual Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch, contact Tara Wilhelmi at taraw@goodmancenter.org or (608) 204-8056.