“Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the resiliency of the Black community and the continued pursuit for freedom in our community. We are putting on this event to show that our government officials and our elected officials are dedicated to freedom and equity,” says State Rep. Shelia Stubbs. “On this day, we celebrate the strides we have made in our Black community. It’s vital that we always remember to celebrate Juneteenth to ensure that it’s never forgotten what we can achieve.”
Stubbs is the chair of the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus who host a special Juneteenth celebration this Friday, June 18, 10 a.m. at the Wisconsin State Capitol.
“Governor [Tony] Evers will be in attendance and we are excited about that,” Stubbs says. “We have Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Congresswoman Gwen Moore.”
Members of the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus will be in attendance as George Smith, co-anchor of Channel 27 News, will serve as the master of ceremonies for the event. Bishop Sedgwick Daniels of the Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God and Christ will deliver the invocation and Pastor Keith Evans of the Greater Mt. Eagle Baptist Church will deliver the Benediction.
“Annie Weatherby-Flowers, a jewel for Juneteenth in Madison, will be in attendance to talk about what Juneteenth is and why it is important and to talk about the Juneteenth flag,” Stubbs says.
Soloists Leotha & Tamara Stanley and Jaquetia Tate will sing and Tani Diakite & the Afrofunkstars, African drummers, will be performing.
Juneteenth recognizes the date enslaved African Americans in Texas learned of their emancipation almost two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Texas was the last state in rebellion, following the end of the Civil War, to allow enslavement,” Stubbs says. “Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, the actual emancipation was not announced in the last state practicing enslavement until General Gordon Granger came to Galveston, Texas, and issued General Order #3, on the ’19th of June,’ almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
“It is so important to recognize what it means to have freedom,” Stubbs adds.
Juneteenth has been celebrated in Wisconsin since 1971 in Milwaukee and since 1990 in Madison. It was declared a Wisconsin State Holiday on December 1, 2009.
“In the state of Wisconsin, Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday but it is without pay. So every one of our members of the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus will be fighting for this effort. We need to make sure that Juneteenth becomes a paid state holiday for all of our state employees.”
“This will be the second year for this Juneteenth Celebration but the first one with the community involved. Anyone can come,” she adds. “We are excited to be able to do this in person. This is our first event in a long time and we are excited to meet with community and partners and celebrate Juneteenth festivities.”
It’s Stubbs’s first event as the Wisconsin Black Caucus chairperson. She’s the first Black Caucus chair from Dane County since the start of the organization back in 1955.
“All of the other chairs have been from Milwaukee. So this is really important to me. I’m really excited about this,” Stubbs says. “I worked really hard to pull the speakers and entertainment together. I’m looking forward to seeing the community.”
The Juneteenth flag will be raised over the Wisconsin State Capitol on Friday. Last year the Juneteenth flag was raised over the Capitol for the first time ever in the state of Wisconsin.
“This year we are looking forward to having space where community can truly access us. Last year, we were on the observation deck and it was limited in how many people can come up,” Stubbs says.
“We are hoping for a big turnout from the community. We are going to work our hardest to get as many community leaders as possible to our State Capitol,” Stubbs adds. “We have a very robust line-up for this Juneteenth ceremony. I’m so excited. It will all happen for the first time.”
The Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus Juneteenth Celebration will take place on the first floor of the Capitol Rotunda on Friday, June 18, at 10 a.m. For more information about the event, e-mail Stubbs at Rep.Stubbs@legis.wisconsin.gove or call (608)266-3784.