Young women celebrate Juneteenth at Penn Park. (Photo by A. David Dahmer)

Kujichagulia Madison Center for Self Determination, a non-profit that promotes African-American cultural and educational events, is inviting Madisonians to join them for Juneteenth, the annual celebration of the historic event – the emancipation of all slaves in America – but in a virtual manner this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The theme for the 2020 Juneteenth Celebration will be “Exemplifying Our Legacy of Resilience.”

Juneteenth, celebrated here in Madison at Penn Park, dates to June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with news the Civil War had ended and slaves were free. (Photo by A. David Dahmer)

Annie Weatherby-Flowers and Mona Winston founded Kujichagulia in 2006 and had been hosting the annual Juneteenth celebration for more than 30 years. 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 collaboration with community partners and the Kujichagulia Advisory Board – made up of Prenicia Clifton, Derek Johnson, Roderquita Moore, Joshua Wright, Jimmy Cheffen, Janine Stephens, Tyson Jackson, Tara Wilhelmi, Kimberly Willams and Torvic Caradine –  Juneteenth 2020 will present a series of virtual events to promote political responsibility, educational advancement, sufficiency, good health, social responsibility and collective well-being within the Madison black community, according to a press release from the board.

Juneteenth in Madison
(Photo by A. David Dahmer)

There are a variety of events scheduled from June 15-20 (see below) that will feature many different virtual artistic and cultural presentations, displays, community conversations and other activities. A “Tribute to Juneteenth in Celebration of Black Resilience” will take place Friday, June 19 kicking off with the Annual Juneteenth Opening Ceremony at 6 p.m. followed by “Community Line Dance Lessons” and “A Tribute to Black Music.”

There will be a national flag-raising on Monday, June 1.

The Madison Juneteenth Day Celebration was established in 1990 to celebrate and carry on the legacy of Juneteenth and the rich heritage of African Americans. Juneteenth has been celebrated in Wisconsin since 1971 in Milwaukee. It was declared a Wisconsin State Holiday on December 1, 2009.

The Juneteenth Implementation Team consists of representatives from many sectors of the Madison community and is looking for volunteers for Juneteenth 2020.  If you would like to volunteer for variety of tasks, participate in the upcoming events, or would like to share a talent or gift, you can contact the team at (608) 616-0279 or by e-mail at [email protected] or [email protected]. For additional information, visit the website at