Madison’s annual Juneteenth Celebration at Penn Park is dedicated to the celebration of the lived experiences and accomplishments of Black Americans historically and presently here in Madison and across the nation. It’s a unique opportunity to experience the rich history of Black Americans through various forms of entertainment, lectures, performances, exhibits, visual presentations, food, music, and other activities.
This year’s event host, Kujichagulia Madison Center for Self-Determination, will be officially commemorating the 158th year of the Juneteenth Day Celebration in the United States on Saturday, June 17, at Penn Park. The theme will be “Juneteenth 2023…Black Resilience: Collective Liberation and Transformation.” Organizers are looking for volunteers for the event in many different capacities.
“Black Resilience is our community’s coping mechanism and its ability to bounce back from difficult life experiences. It’s indicative of our personal and collective strength to face, overcome, and adjust to the centuries of racial disparities and lack of social justice,” said Annie Weatherby-Flowers, the longtime organizer of Madison’s Juneteenth, in a press release. “The Kujichagulia leadership and Juneteenth implementation team are seeking local artists to showcase resilience through their respective talents and community and faith-based organizations, professional associations and youth and families to showcase their talents or volunteer at the event for set-up and take-down. As always, your financial support will be most appreciated.”
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, a day when African-American slaves in Texas were told by Union forces that they were free. They were the final group of slaves to realize their freedom. Deep in the Confederacy, they were unaware of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation almost two years earlier. A celebration of the day has been held annually in Texas ever since, which eventually spread to other states.
In 1990, a group of Madison’s Black community leaders collaborated with the Madison Inner City Council on Substance Abuse to implement the first Juneteenth Celebration. This year’s celebration will be the 34th annual Madison Juneteenth Celebration. It will be hosted by Kujichagulia Madison Center for Self- Determination Inc. in collaboration with many community partners including All of Us –Research Project, UW WID/WARF, Urban League of Greater Madison, United Way, Madison Black Greek Organizations, African American Council of Churches, Madison Public Library, 100 Black Men of Madison, Women in Focus, the City of Madison Community Policing, Meriter Hospital Community Engagement Department, First Unitarian Society, Musicmakesadifference, Madison Jazz and Blues Fests, the Madison African, African Women and Caribbean Associations and Madison College.
For more information or to volunteer at Juneteenth 2023, e-mail Irene Katana at [email protected] or visit the Kujichagulia Madison Center for Self-Determination website.